A Year That Melted Away

533549_10151615126213504_200884615_nIt seems like it was just yesterday when I awoke to sheer terror. The sun was still only a hazy promise; a promise that within an hour or two the sky would be filled with light. As I stepped out my front door, the chilly summer morning air greeted all parts of my body that were not covered by my light T-shirt or knee-length shorts. I welcomed it. It was the familiar nippy early morning summer air that seemed to be the only thing staying constant in my life as I prepared to head toward a year of uncertainties and firsts. I stepped into my Mother’s car with my brother and his girlfriend, slammed the door shut and drove toward my future; my new home for the next four years. It could have been the best decision of my life, or maybe it could have been the worst. All I knew was that I knew nothing. I just didn’t know; and no one else did either. No college movie or show ever prepares you for the real thing, and no good words from close friends and family can quell the emotions of emptiness, anxiety, and worry mixing in your stomach. In a short car ride and some quick goodbyes, I would be off on my own. Alone. Alone and unprepared.

644343_3504463304413_1838216618_nThe first few days were frightening. I seemed to have way more questions than answers. Who was my friend? Who would I go get lunch with? And dinner? Maybe I can just skip this meal if I can’t find someone to go with, but oh my lord, I am so hungry that I think my stomach is eating itself. Wow, look at all these people I don’t know, will I ever know them? Will these strangers ever turn into something more than just a person walking through campus. Will they turn into a handshake, a smile, a “hello,” or maybe some of these faces will turn into a greeting with a hug, but who is who? Am I ever going to fit into this sea of faces? Will I ever make it here?

I definitely made it here. I made this unfamiliar place home.

Familiar faces began appearing in the crowds. I found my circle of friends, the people who I will either form closer bonds with over the next four years, or the people who I will slowly drift apart from, but I still found friends. These were people who needed me just as much as I needed them. We were all lonely, and loneliness can only be cured when two people open themselves up to let others into their lives. We found that loneliness could only be healed by risk; good thing we were all 223046_4602009736826_1552541280_ngamblers.

I fell into the rhythm of college life. Going home to the place where I lived for 17 years now seemed more foreign to me than my home at school. Weekends spent home became weekends yearning to get back to Connecticut. Weekends that I would bide my time as I waited to be back in my other home.

There were days when I began to forget that I was at school. It was just too much fun. Sure, I did all my work and went to all my classes, but as soon as class was over, my worries were left behind in that classroom along with the projectors, the desks that are almost too small to fit a laptop and the pungent smell of dry-erase markers. Leaving class just to go back to my room to be 485083_10151158932112185_996743725_nsurrounded by good friends, better music and whatever stupid show we were watching on TV. This was school, but at the same time it almost had the feel of a summer camp. The work was difficult at times, but it was never not worth it. My friends made this all worth it.

As the year passed, I began to comprehend the terminologies on campus. I know what the rat is, I know that the food in the cafe is “wicked” awful and I personally know what it means to “mount the bobcat.” I began to understand the lay-of-the-land. Tator hall, that was a seven minute walk. CAS, now that’s a hike; give yourself at least ten minutes, kid. School of communications? I bet you could make it there in under ten. A class in the school of law? Definitely a 12 minute walk, maybe you should pack a lunch for the road.

385188_498235870226458_954494772_nI learned that what is good for me, is definitely not good for everyone. Not everyone had the same experience that I have had this year. It’s not that they did anything wrong, and it’s certainly not that they didn’t try. Maybe this just was not home to them. It is hard to make a place home if it just isn’t meant to be home. Where some find gold, others find coal; what’s good for some is not great for all. And life will go on for these people, they will learn from this mistake. Next year might be one spent closer to home, or it may be one spent in that once place that deep down they always knew they should have gone to for college. This place could be in the woods of Vermont, the cities of New York, Boston or Chicago, or maybe it is that SEC powerhouse football school rooted in the deep south. There is a place for everyone, and if this place was not it, it just means that this was just a stepping stone on the way to a future that is still waiting to be uncovered. A future that I’m sure we will all undoubtably find.

943310_10151464404467198_246807566_nEverything always works out somehow. It’s just how it is. If this year wasn’t your year, next year will be. If this place wasn’t home, next year can bring a nice new change of scenery; another chance to unpack and find a home. A place where you find that you are so excited for the future, but are so happy with the current situation that you also dread the future. The future becomes bittersweet because the moment is just too surreal. The moment is too beautiful.

That’s how it has been for me.

19211_595911120425989_1279435638_nSo as I say goodbye to my first year in college, I can say that, “yes I did make it.” So I made it to college and I also made it through; at least one year, that is. I’ve certainly changed. I am a different person than who I was stepping out of Momma’s car late in August. I still look the same, I still smell the same (by the way Mom, I definitely need more soap) and I still sound the same, but I am definitely different. I have seen that there is so much more out there in this world that I have often heard is so vast. My mind has been opened up to  new points of view, my mind has accepted new outlooks and I have crafted some of them as my own. I have met people with their own demons, their own ghosts and their own challenges. I have begun to confront my own demons, too. I have come to understand my strengths and weaknesses, and have realized that everybody has those too.

I better understand people, better understand myself and better understand this world. Mostly, I understand

208829_10200847971426205_488830485_nthat I really don’t understand much.

To put it simple, college has been great. Not just good, but great. I still have three more years. Three more great years.

So let’s go, I’m excited to see where we all end up.

 

 

 

 

Here We Go, Again

So for some, syllabus week has already come and gone — destined to be a fond memory or maybe even a painful nightmare of the past. For others, syllabus week is  now underway and the allure of excitement and maybe even a bit of anxiety are filling their most inner thoughts. Wherever you may currently find yourself, however, there is no denying that it’s time to get back into this. Shake the cobwebs off from that winter break that is too short for some and an eternity to those impatiently waiting to get back to the relative freedom that college offers. So brew your coffee, unpack your books and catch up on that sleep that you did not quite get enough of over break despite the promises you may have made to yourself prior to returning home. It’s time to get back to where we left off. All students now have a semester of college under their belt; some may even say were used to this now. We know what to expect — or maybe not quite. Whatever happens though, we are getting back into the swing of things. So competitors, take your places. On your mark, get set, go!… or should I say, here we go again.

(This music video is so cool by the way)

 

 

Maybe this too is home

So there’s something remarkable that happens over the course of your first semester. The place that at one time you were so anxious to come to becomes the place that you cannot wait to get back to. Your dorm becomes a home-away-from-home to some and for others, it just becomes home. The freedom, the friendships and the renewed sense of togetherness is felt upon entering your dorm room after a long break. Good friends, long nights and more importantly good times. It is where memories are made and everlasting friendships are ignited. It may not be exactly like home, but I like to think that it still is home. So welcome home everybody, I hope you feel welcomed, comfortable and excited for what this semester may, or may not, have in store for you.

 

Hello, Fall

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

-Stanley Horowitz

There is something unmistakably remarkable about fall. There is an indescribable feeling in the air. The way that days can be dreadfully warm, but nights are crisp and cool. The feeling of frigid air being sucked into your lungs is a drastic change from the heavy, humid air of summer. The way the air feels lighter. Fall is a time of change. Fall says goodbye to summer, but with the promise that summer will be back again next year. Fall is a kind change. A gentle transition from the dog-days of summer into the leaf-cluttered streets of fall. There is a unique change in the human senses upon the arrival of fall. There is a certain smell of nippy fall mornings. The characteristic crunch of leaves under your feet. Leaves scattered across the street like a collage created from the heavens. The yellow, red and orange leaves that linger over the horizon, presenting an entirely new palate of color to an otherwise colorless world. Comfort in fall is nothing more than a cozy sweatshirt and a cup of tea. Whatever it may be, fall welcomes change, it says goodbye to what was. For some it is a welcomed entity, offering a new spin on life and a new beginning. For others, fall is not welcomed. Fall can present nostalgia for what used to be. Whatever it may be, change in fall is inevitable, and for many freshmen in college, as well as many other students, I would whole-heartily believe that fall has presented an enormous change.

Coming into college I was someone who I would now see as being ignorant. I might call it immature, or maybe I was just like any other 17 or 18 year-old boy who was going away from home for the first time. I thought that I knew what it was like to be responsible. I was a legal adult. I knew everything, and because of a sheer unwillingness to accept anything other than my own beliefs, I convinced myself that I had already grown into adulthood.

I was dead wrong. I soon realized what it meant to live without my parents. It may not have been that it was what I wanted to do, but based on the circumstances, it was what I had to do. I began to make my own decisions, and early on, I often made the wrong decision. It was blatantly obvious that I had to regroup and make changes within myself, a task that many freshman find themselves doing.

It began with my study habits. Although I did an above average job of skating-by in high school, I noticed early on that it would no longer work. As the first few weeks of school passed, I saw a dramatic change in my study habits. I no longer waited until the night before an assignment was due to begin working on it. I put pride into each paper that I submitted. For the first time in my life, I decided that school work came before anything else. It could have been the realization that my parents are spending so much money on my education that caused me to become motivated. Then again, it could also have been that I was just comprehending that the work I was being given was for my own benefit. My study habits changed like the warm breeze of early fall changes to the stinging bitterness of a cold gust of wind in late fall.

I have seen a change in my friends as well. The people whom I thought would become my most loyal companions have slowly vanished into a sea of unfamiliar faces. Those who I thought I would never know became the people who I look to in times of need, the moments at college when I was at my weakest. With much remorse I have had to slowly pull away from people who were leading me in an undesirable direction, and subsequently surround myself with people who I could more easily relate with. Just as the leaves of summer vanish from the branches that once held them by late fall, so did many of my early friends. It may be saddening to some, but with each goodbye there awaits a new opportunity.

I would like to think that I have matured after the first 10 weeks of college. I would like to believe that I am the adult that I thought I was when I left for college. Maybe I have changed for the better and done some growing up, but maybe growing up a little is realizing that you still have a lot of growing to do as an individual. The person that believes that they have grown into the perfect version of themselves are those who have grown the least. It can be inferred that the wisest and most knowledgable mind is the mind that never stops listening; it never stops growing. Fall may have changed me, and it may have changed me for the better. It could have caused me to grow, but if there is anything that I can take away from this fall, it is the idea that just as fall continues to change, I will continue to change. I will never again believe that what I currently am is all that I should forever be. So like the fall breeze and the fall leaves, I will change.

What goes for me does not go for all. Maybe some of you out there have watched yourself change in much different ways. Maybe you have become more cynical. Have you become more trusting in the world? Some may have seen their normally stellar grades slip into disrepair. For some their choices may have become impaired by the longing to be a part of something that they could have found in so many different places. So before I say goodbye, I would like to ask just one simple question; how have you changed throughout fall?

Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn.

-Umberto Eco

Cheers,

Andy

It’s Here for the Taking

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It can be argued that college is nothing more than an opportunity. Enrolling at a college does not guarantee success. Admission into a college guarantees nothing more than a reserved seat in five classes a semester. It elicits a chance to listen to the ideals and teachings of professors who have become experts in a field of study. A college may offer programs or extracurricular activities that facilitate in preparing you for work in the real world in your chosen field of study. Varied and diverse people may attend the school, offering an insight into different cultures. A college can offer you all the elements needed to have a fulfilling and successful life, but these elements are nothing more than a bullet point on a pamphlet in the admissions office until those opportunities are seized by willing students. Opportunities on campus at any college are limitless, but opportunities are nothing when they fall into complacent hands. I may be nothing more than a mere freshman, but already I have seen the limitless amounts of opportunities that are present in college.

Academics. This is where the first opportunity of college presents itself. The grades that people have received through their entire academic career no longer matter. Whatever college someone may be attending does not worry about past academic failures and successes. Bygones will be bygones; a clean slate is created. As a freshman, I am entitled to a new beginning. I have the opportunity to either relish this opportunity and strive for excellence, or I can just continue putting minimal effort into my school work. The opportunity to begin college with a strong academic record is present. I am given the chance to listen and actually learn from faculty members who have made it their job to make myself a more intelligent individual. Some people grasp the opportunity, but others, as it has become apparent already, tend to inculcate themselves with the idea that they are too busy or that they are just too “cool” for all of the extra activities. It is of human nature that we rationalize all of our decisions; we can convince ourselves that sometimes the wrong decision is the right one.

Extracurricular activities. This is a topic that can make me quite angry. Most colleges offer an absurd number of clubs and activities that students are welcomed and encouraged to become involved in. Many of the clubs and activities offered can also be important  in preparing students for their chosen career paths. A strong resume after college will need to consist of numerous clubs so that it becomes possible to set oneself apart from other students that will be searching for jobs directly after graduation. I’m certainly not attempting to persuade anybody to join a club that they are not interested in, but if it can be done without interfering with school work, then every effort should be made to do so. Connections can be made, friendships can grow and opportunities will arise.

Opportunities do not only present themselves in academic situations. Opportunities on college campuses happen at any time of the day and at any location. They are infinite. Some are harmful; the opportunity to drink alcohol or take part in any type of destructive behavior. Others, however, are beneficial;  the opportunity to meet someone new, hold the door for someone which can spark a conversation and maybe even being able to fall in love.

It can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to understand how each opportunity that presents itself can have a dramatic impact a person’s life. Each action has a series of implications that may be insignificant or of dire importance. It can change the course of someone’s life or just be another moment of unimportance. Each moment is fleeting and so are the opportunities that accompany them.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” – Benjamin Franklin

Cheers,

Andy

 

Parents Weekend

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Welcome Mom and Dad!!!

So I am glad that we have made it to this point in the semester. It may have been rough, it may have been arduous and most likely you are beginning to question your own sanity. Unbelievably lengthy nights of homework until the wee hours of the morning, caffeine highs from that extra-large, burnt-tasting coffee from the overpriced cafeteria. Oh yeah, and of course those nights that you get barely an hour or two of sleep.

Come on though, those days are behind us now. Its time to let the past be the past and turn your focus toward the future. Anyway, is the past that important anyway? (Don’t you dare say anything you history people out there) Now it’s time to start turn your focus toward the not-so-distant arrival of your parents.

So now that you have been at school for nearly two months, although it could possibly be a little more or a little less, things are much different than they were when Ma and Pa dropped you off at school. You are college kid now. Oh yeah, you are. Eating Ramen Noodles, sitting around in your dorm room and sitting in public with that new MacBook Pro typing away. We are part of a new crowd, we are college kids now.

When your parents are getting ready to infiltrate your dorm room, it comes down to making sure that you do some solid prep work. It becomes important that you make sure that it comes across to not only your parents, but also your roommates parents, that you are not a filthy slob. Grab the Windex, maybe a little Lysol and bring the garbage can over to the corner of your room. If you are not in the mood to do laundry, maybe you can just Febreeze the smell away, after all, it is the thought that counts.

Alright, well now that you have a clean room, it is inevitable that you have to start placing things in your room to start making it look like you are doing everything your parents are expecting you to be doing. For some, this may entail putting some things away into a place that cannot be seen by all who enter the room. For those that this does not apply to, it then means that you should begin to carefully place objects throughout your personal space to present the idea that you are being exceedingly studious. An open textbook in the middle of your desk with an open highlighter can go a long way. For those of us who are feeling extra inclined to pull off the deception can even toss an open dictionary on the desk; make sure you highlight the most ridiculously complex word on the page.

Once you have prepared your room, it becomes of dire importance that you talk to your group of friends. Let them know that your parents are coming. I mean, just give them a little heads up so that they might consider acting and behaving in a somewhat normal manner. I’m not expecting everyone to put on their shirt and tie with their nicest pair of shoes and dark-black dress pants, but it is going to be quite an awkward situation if someone’s parent walks in and no one is ready for it. It is best to give at least a little bit of a heads up.

Alright, so now you are completely ready for your parents to come visit for the weekend. You definitely are not in the clear yet, however.

Once your parents arrive at your school, the real entertainment is about to begin. Once your parents get here, it becomes the difficult and sometimes daunting task of ensuring that your parents do not embarrass you too badly, but in some respects, that is their job. While meeting your new friends, one must try to make it the least awkward experience that it can possibly be. It has been apparent thus far that whenever a parent enters a dorm room, the vibe throughout the room suddenly begins to change. There is an awkwardness that hangs in the air. I’m pretty sure I could actually taste the awkwardness once. (yeah, it was that bad) When a parent walks in, all normal activity ceases to occur and everyone is normally just holding their breath until the parent or parents leave. Due to this, it is often quite important that meetings between friends and parents are quick, simple and over within a matter of minutes.

After the awkward encounter between parents and friends are terminated,you can go about the rest of parent weekend with relative ease. It will be relieving to be with your parents and being able to relax. It will be a momentary reprieve from the normal day-to-day stress that college can become. It allows you to talk and catch up with the people who you have spent the majority of your life with. In all honesty, it is a truly remarkable and overrated time of the semester. It offers you and your parents a way to bond at the place where you, their child, will be spending the better part of your next four years. Through events during the weekend, your parents are able to become engulfed in the culture and values of the university. It unites parents, students and a University.

So go ahead, welcome parents weekend with open arms. Do not look at it with trepidation and anxiety. Everything will go well. Good preparation goes a long way, and yeah, these are your parents anyway, and I am quite positive that they will take you as you are anyway.

Feel free to leave feedback for me as well as comments!

Cheers,

Andy Landolfi

and what a journey it was

Contrary to popular belief, that long, arduous journey to college did not happen over the course of one night. To be honest, the journey to college honestly wasn’t started when you just began high school either. The journey to college starts as nothing more than a glint in your father’s eye. It begins before you are even brought into existence (is this kid really claiming that the journey to college start before you are even born?) To that question I say, “hell yes!” There are not many people who influence you more in life than either parents or legal guardians, depending on your current situation. Little Billy boy or little Lucy lady are brought into this world prepared to take in the ideals that their parents instill in them. So when little Billy boy puts his velcro sneakers on and grabs his little brown bagged lunch to go and get on the bus on that first day of school, he goes with the work ethic and belief in education that his parents have.

After those few innocent years of elementary school come to an end, it means that you are headed into those embarrassing and often not-so-talked-about middle school years. (For me, middle school meant being chubby, awkward, and having my hair dyed blonde, it was pretty bad news) Middle school means possibly going to a new setting with people who you may not have ever seen before. At this time, most kids still really care about school, but it is also the time when the caring begins to cease. Little Billy begins to grow a few straggly hairs under his chin and little Lucy, well she starts wearing a training bra. Nobody has “cooties” anymore, and the school dances start becoming BIG news. “Did you hear Billy kissed Lucy?!” “I hear that they are dating!” With so many “love” affairs happening at one time, some kids just begin to start losing interest in school. (This didn’t happen to me because I was, as mentioned before, quite awkward) Some students carry on their excellent study habits, and some may even grow out of this phase, but for some, this loss of interest is unescapable.

So now you have FINALLY made it to high school. For the most part, the same friends that you grew up with are still with you. You’re in the big leagues now Billy and Lucy. That one random relative is constantly telling you about how great he was in high school, and you sit pretending and struggling to put on this facade that you are interested. We all have had those conversations with people who give us an uneasy vibe where all that can be done on your part is an uneasy laugh accompanied by an occasional forced smile and a nod of the head. High school is supposed to be the best part of anyone’s life, well at least Hollywood says that, so therefore it must be true. (I really do not mean that) Now that you are in high school though, the awkwardness that you once had has subsided at least a little bit. It is time for you to leave your mark, you are nothing more than a mangy freshman, so you know that you have to play it off like you are cool. Being cooler than the other side of the pillow, is the level of coolness that you are expecting to have. This is the moment where you can either sink or swim, it is the moment where a student needs to find balance. Some were destined to start believing that it is just high school and that if they at least show up that college will still be within reach. Others are able to realize that you can still be whoever you want to be while at least maintaining a fairly good grade point average. This is when the division into different groups or “cliques” occurs. There are a group of kids that some would call nerds, then there are  the gothic or “emo” kids. Along with this, there are your typical jocks, preps, kids who are “too cool for school,” and that one group of kids that wishes that they were going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Oh yeah, and then there is that one kid that no one will see until the night of graduation at the end of senior year. Although it does not seem like a big deal at the time, the group of people you surrounded yourself with does make a tremendous difference. They were either the kids that you studied with OR the kids that you slacked off with.

Now junior year rolls around and the college search is in full swing and more importantly,  the SAT’s are right round the corner. There is nothing nicer than putting so much pressure on a kid to do well on a single test. “oh come on, it’s just a test, it’s not like it affects the rest or your life!” Well actually it does, and it will be a major factor in determining where you will be going to college. Well now that the SAT’s are done, it would be time to begin picking the place that you will be studying the trade that you will be doing for the rest of your life. (no pressure) It is also the time when you either say “Wow, I’m glad I buckled down during high school,” or its the moment when all you can say is, “Wow I really wish I tried harder.” Applications to school are sent out and the nerve-racking wait for letters back from those school begins. Being denied acceptance to a school is just a polite way of them telling you that you are not good enough for us, try somewhere a little less renowned. Nothing boosts a young adults confidence like being told that you aren’t good enough, right?! Once you are settled on your second choice college, or for the lucky ones, your first choice, the journey to college is basically at its end, thus ending a nearly 18-year-old journey.

So there you go not-so little Billy and all-grown-up Lucy, you made it! Don’t be sad though, college is normally where the real journey begins, college is truly the stepping stone to the path that you will be taking for the rest of your life. Feel free to let me know what you think of this. Any comments or feedback is greatly appreciated. cheers, Andy