A third-year’s first year

The lessons I learned as a transfer student

We did it, Wahoos. We made it. Our academic year is nearing the end, and we have overcome the many ups-and-downs of this semester. Sure, the nightmare that is finals has only just begun, but that imminent stress should not detract from our biannual accomplishment. After all, we worked extraordinarily hard. That is something that should be celebrated. Now, don’t get me wrong — wait two weeks or so before that celebration! Finish finals and tie all those wayward loose ends into a neat bow.

As a transfer student, the year was a little different for me. It was like what I assume to be a first-year’s experience. I went through the same worries every first-year has. Where is New Cabell? What can I spend my plus dollars on? Does the inner loop run by Lambeth? I learned all the answers to these questions (well, for the most part; I’m still not sure if it is the inner or outer loop that runs behind Lambeth) in a somewhat timely manner. I also derived lessons from these experiences, which gave even more meaning to them.

Students are always surprised when I tell them I’m a transfer student, and, for whatever reason, it seems like that fact leaves some kind of stigma on my back. Not-a-true-Wahoo or something. Not only that, but every time someone asks where I transferred from, I hesitate a little bit. If there’s a stigma for being a transfer student, there definitely will be a stigma for being a transfer student from a community college. Still, it is important to keep in mind the accomplishes that you, as an individual person, have made. When it comes down to it, nobody knows your history — how hard you’ve fought to be where you are and what brought you there in the first place. It is important to be mindful of everyone’s journey. That sounds like fortune-cookie-nonsense, but it is still true.

Classes were another point of transition. While the content and degree of difficulty was all fair and to be expected, I was struck by the relationship students often have with their professor. I did see a little bit of this at the community college, but not so ubiquitously. It felt like most of the professors here regarded their students as peers — fellow companions in an everlasting search for knowledge. Students were respectful. Students wanted to learn, and professors genuinely wanted to foster this. There was more freedom and understanding than I expected, but really that’s how it should be — students doing the best possible, and professors understanding when they need a bit of flexibility and understanding.

It was also the first time that I had to live with people I did not know, with roommates that I had never met before. That experience was fine — we had polite relationships, there were no instances of outward drama and everyone did their fair share of the chores. They were fine roommates. With some time, they digressed into exclusionary cliques — whew, the stories I could tell you — but they still fulfilled their purpose, and that was all that really mattered. Still, the experience taught me how to hold my head high in the face of difficult people.

The end of the year is a milestone that should encourage us to look into our past and to appreciate how far we have come as students and people. We have learned so much, whether it be academic facts or practical day-to-day knowledge, and that is something to take pride in. 

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