Ah, freshman year of college - the most anticipated year in most high school students' lives. It’s the year of massive changes and the beginning of an essential journey to the next chapter of life. We have all heard crazy stories about this year but, we never really know how it is going to turn out. Well, never fear because Shakespeare isn’t here :) It's me, Sanjana, and I am here to tell you to hop onto a magic carpet and explore my freshman year with me!
My first Instagram story of Wheaton College - the most important snapshot ever, was taken the day I moved into my dorm room and got all settled in. I had orientation the following day. Even though it was swelteringly hot (yes, I know Mass is always cold. I lowkey think I’m the one who brings terrible weather) my roommate and I walked all over campus trying to take everything in. I would definitely count this as my first unofficial campus tour and the kickoff moment of my freshman year.
The One Where I Was ‘Oriented’
The first day of orientation week was one of the most critical moments of, I dare say, my whole undergraduate experience (although it's not over yet, thank god). This was the first day of orientation week for all freshmen (not just international students) and was also the day I made my first, and fortunately my best, friends. I was bored and, as expected, I was fidgeting because I did not know many people. So I struck up a conversation with the people closest to me (gutsy, I know). We strutted over to try our luck at a game that requires tremendous hand and eye coordination - foosball. This very spot happened to be where my two best friends fell in love, and it was very Lady and the Tramp. It was perfect. This picture marks the day the three of us became inseparable (although I have been accused of third-wheeling numerous times, the three of us are always friends first)
The One Where I Decorated My Room
I was very late to the whole "decorating my room" game since Bed Bath and Beyond not only lost my order but also did not refund any of my money. I was in my holy trinity phase of student decorations for about two weeks hitting every store I could find - Walmart, Target, and TJ Max, you name it. Finally, after splurging at sales and bringing four of my friends to help me choose whether the painting with two cacti looked better than the painting with one cactus with flowers I managed to buy what I needed for my room. Also, my wonderful handyman friend ( a super important person to have as a friend in college) helped me (fine, he did it all himself) build a table. That day was definitely fantastic since we spent hours making my room exactly how I wanted it to be while blasting Billie Eilish, and hoping the neighbors wouldn't knock on my door.
The One Where I Went on a Thrift Shopping Spree
Ah, this day comes in almost every freshman's life and sprinkles them with hope and love - thrift shopping day. Before college, I had no idea what thrift shopping was, and my friend had never been thrift shopping, so this was an exciting adventure. Fun fact- we were supposed to be there for forty-five minutes, but my friend and I transformed into Rebecca Bloomwoods and could not stop. We are not proud of this, but we blocked the changing rooms for more than half an hour since we tried on about thirty different clothing outfits. At the same time, our mutual friend seriously regretted introducing us to the thrifting world.
The One Where I Turned 18
My best friend, her twin sister, and I share a birthday!!! We got many of our friends in the common room, feasted on some delicious Mediterranean food, and talked about everything under the sun. The day was so fun and exciting I legitimately forgot to turn in an assignment. No worries though! My professor sympathized with me since it was a special day and extended the deadline! (I love college professors). I turned 18, surrounded by my closest friends, eating a lot of cake. It was one of the best days of my freshman year. Although I didn't give me time to miss my family, there were some misty eyes during facetime that night, but I swear I was just cutting onions :)
The One with the Hair Dye
They say when life gets tough, change your hair. Life wasn't tough, but I wanted a change anyway. Something about moving across the world and living in a foreign land with people I had never met before just made me want to reinvent myself. Call me an adrenaline junkie, but I couldn't resist doing the stereotypical college thing - having my friend color my hair in the communal bathroom. What colors, you ask? Purple and Magenta. Did my parents know? Excuse yourself out of the room, please, this is an adults-only space :) Now Abram, Jeanne's boyfriend, was our assistant in this process, and boy was it stressful. Jeanne was doing the purple patches of my hair, and since Abram was too busy goofing around, he handed her the WRONG COLOR. I screamed. Loudly. This was followed by Abram hollering, "don't worry about it" after realizing his grave mistake. No worries, my hair turned out absolutely fantastic. My fabulous RA walked in, stared at the three of us covered in aluminum foil, and said, "whatever is happening over here, I completely approve of it." Definitely a monumental moment.
The One Where I Saw the Leaves Fall
I had my very first Fall at Wheaton, and dare I say, it was magical. It felt just like all the books I had read growing up had said it would. Fall at Wheaton, or anywhere on the East Coast, really is full of activities and bustling with immensely happy people. At least that is what it felt like while I was at Wheaton. I got to go to Wheaton’s fall carnival, carve a pumpkin, drink lots and lots of apple cider, and play many fun games. There were woolen hats, mittens, and tons of really delicious goodies up for grabs! I even got a free t-shirt!
The One with the Museum
Another great freshman year memory was Wheaton's annual trip to the Met Museum, where I go to explore art and culture. My friends and I hopped onto a bus and took the journey to New York. Of course, my friend and I had to pretend to be Blair and Serena on the Met's steps, thinking we were a hoot. We explored Manhattan, got a bunch of ice cream, and ate fantastic Italian food at a rooftop restaurant.
The One with the First Dance
Here comes the iconic Halloween dance which also happened to be my first dance of dances! Wheaton pulled through and came up with brilliant music and a great dance floor. My friends and I grooved to the music past midnight. Did I wear heels to the dance? Yes. Did I dance till I couldn't? No, I danced even after I couldn't, and I have never had more fun before.
The One with the Game
I made friends with a darling puppy who will always hold a very special place in my heart. This was right after I watched my first ever soccer game for the season.
The One with the Snow
Another one of Wheaton’s charming moments is wintertime with gorgeous sunsets. Norton's little town was magical and had the whitest snow you have ever laid your eyes on. It was perfect. I even drank hot chocolate with marshmallows while staring out of my window in absolute awe. It wasn't my first snow, but it was the first time I spent more than an hour in the snow. I was practically jumping with joy during the first snowfall of the season, with all of the looking at me like I was a five-year-old (in their defense my excitement positively portrayed that emotional age). We even got ourselves matching Christmas jammies and had a full-blown photoshoot which involved rousing my RA from slumber to be our photographer.
The One with the Break
One of the great things about December is Winter Break. I came back home to find that out of everyone in my family, my dog had missed me the most, and honestly, nothing made my year more. He jumped up and down like I had been gone for years (well, I mean it was months) and didn't leave my side for a week. After that, though he was back to normal - ignoring me when I wanted to hug him :)
The One with the New Semester
As Winter Break finally came to an end I was reunited with my friends. We bought a projector and watched Jojo Rabbit, where I cried so loudly I was told to "shut up and cry later." However, all was forgiven when we went out to get a mouth-watering Japanese Hibachi lunch and I had too many Shirley Temples for my own good.
The One with the Exploring
This is the day where I was reunited with my high school friend who happened to be just forty minutes north of Norton. We spent an entire day exploring Providence and Boston. It happened to be one of the best trips I had ever taken, full of nostalgia, laughter, great food, and the best company!
The One with the Corona
Ah. Corona. I wish I could leave this part out of my first year, however, as the college has proved, things don't always go your way. So I packed up and left and headed back to India. Online learning was difficult, but it wasn't impossible. However, it did include a couple of breakdowns with the amount of work we were all still expected to do.
I ended my finals on a high note. As college will teach you, I was smiling and alive at the end of my first year sitting at home in my room, pretending to not be wearing mickey mouse shorts in class. It was too depressing to put a picture of that, so here is a happy fall shoot picture instead.
That's it. That was a little glimpse into my first year at Wheaton. Not everyone's year may go this way, it might be better, or it might be worse. It might be completely different than mine. That just happens to be the beauty of the undergraduate experience. No matter what adventures you go on, and how your classes might make you want to drop out, you will get through it not without a ton of happy memories, learning experiences, and transferable skills that you can use in your real life. My first year at Wheaton was definitely not what I expected it to be, nor was it my dream first year. It was so much more than that, which made me question why I even visualized a perfect year? It turned out to be so much more enjoyable than that :)