I think we can all agree that the anticipation felt from the “first day of school” prompts vibrant memories. For me, year after year, there has always been the excitement mixed with nerves about meeting new classmates, the decision of what my first-day outfit will be, and the dreaded first-day-of-school photo session outside my house. Then again, I was also always pleasantly surprised to find mom’s celebratory first-day chocolate chip cookies waiting for me when I got home.
The first day of graduate school was certainly different than any other first day experience. I’m not exactly sure why, but I expected it to somehow be familiar. It has instead been distinctively refreshing. Things are completely different now than before my move. For instance, I found a cute house where I now live in Bloomington, Indiana, and I’ve been learning how to commute to classes on a bicycle! The most important thing really is the fact that grad school isn’t just in my imagination anymore. I can now focus on my career and personal ambitions in earnest. I’m 23, I’m single, and this is the first time in my life I’ve ever felt so independent.
I knew in February, when I received my first acceptance letter (to IU!) that I could start the countdown, so to speak, of when I would make my great escape. However, the reality of moving away from my home in Maryland meant that I had to detach myself from my family and my old friends. This looming anxiety weighed me down throughout the summer. I came to recognize that my upcoming lifestyle change would be the only way I could alleviate the stress I felt during this transitional period.
I know I am going to love the ethnomusicology and folklore department here at Indiana University. The faculty made a strong impression of their dedication and involvement on orientation day. Each professor was in attendance and introduced herself or himself to the new students – not to mention, they outnumbered us! My colleagues are especially welcoming. I’ve met some wonderful friends at all the backyard music jams and revelries even before classes began. I have been living here for exactly one month and my housemate told me, “It feels like you’ve been here all along.” I smiled at her sentiment, and at that moment, I realized I am exactly where I should be at this point in my life.
Though I am far from the home I’ve always known, I am getting closer to the life and career I want to have. Thanks mom, those chocolate chip cookies you sent in the mail were delicious!
Maryland state flowers bloom across my street in Indiana. A reminder to call my parents…