I am finding it difficult to make it to the end of the semester. Last year around this time I was meeting new people, preparing for prom by dress shopping online, running to the mall after class with my best friend to try on shoes, balancing AP exams with actual exams, planning for family to come into town for my graduation, decorating my high school bathroom and accepting the fact that my time at my beloved St. Ursula Academy was coming to an end. This year I am struggling to balance end of the semester coursework, thinking about the hassle of moving my entire life out of this tiny dorm room in a few weeks, getting ready to say goodbye to friends who aren’t coming back next year and trying to secure a summer job. March/April/May 2017 are quite different from last.
Tonight I sat in the basement of William T. Young library with my two best friends during a tornado warning. Well, potentially two tornados. Everyone in the library at the time was told to take shelter. There were Chacos and North Face backpacks everywhere, much like college in general whether there is a tornado or not. For some reason in this moment I thought of everyone in my hometown. Usually all of the people I follow on social media are experiencing the same weather as me which leads to incessant tweets and Snapchat stories. I am used to driving to school in the morning under a beautiful sunset and then seeing that same sunset posted on Snapchat by everyone I know. This is not the case when you are 290 miles away from your former life. My friends I had grown up with or spent high school with weren’t in the basement of a public building taking shelter. There were no pictures of funnel clouds on my social media pages from the girls on my tennis team or my parents and their friends. I don’t think my parents even knew that Lexington was experiencing severe weather. My grandmothers didn’t call my house like usual when we have a tornado at home and the local newscasters I had seen on my 5th grade trip to the news station weren’t telling me to run to my basement. I was outside of my bubble.
But then again, I was inside a new one. All of the strangers around me were texting their friends across campus asking if they were safe. The official university twitter was tweeting out alerts. That girl from linguistics and that guy from political science were across from me with their own groups of friends, quizzing each other for exams and talking about the weekend. It felt a bit like summer camp (something I have noticed about college quite often). It is very fun for short periods of time, makes you feel out of place every once in a while and is still not quite the same as your bed at home.
I’m not sure why it has taken me to the end of my freshman year of college to realize that I have left the familiarity of Toledo, Ohio, but tonight I have come to this conclusion. The days of Twitter blowing up when Brad Rieger tweeted out that Sylvania schools had a snow day are over, but hearing the screams outside of my dorm window when the basketball team wins a game brings a new sense of community that will take some getting used to. And as soon as I get used to it I will have to leave for summer (of course that is how it works).