Unexpected adjustments to college

Emily Doran

By Emily Doran

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College has been full of adjustments for me. Some have been big – living far away from home and family, for example – while others, such as learning to find my way around campus, have been much smaller. I foresaw most of these challenges as I prepared to go to school, but I’ve still been confronted by a few unexpected ones.

First, I didn’t realized how strange it would be to live in a community so densely populated by people my own age. Growing up, I lived in a fairly average town inhabited by people within a far broader age range, so there was a much more balanced mix of young and old. Now, I am living on a campus overwhelmingly occupied by young adults. This almost seems ironic, given Grand Valley State University’s enthusiasm for diversity (which is, of course, abundant in other areas), but I suppose such an imbalance is unavoidable. As a result of this disproportionate population, there is a general atmosphere of lightheartedness and hope which seems to have pervaded even the remotest corners of campus. (Whether this attitude will turn to despair when we are confronted by snow and finals, however, I have yet to discover).

Another change that has played out a bit differently than I expected is my living situation. While I enjoy my apartment’s space and the privacy which it affords, I have found that living with only one roommate (even though we get along very well) has been an even bigger adjustment than I anticipated. Perhaps I should not be too surprised by this; after all, I grew up with six siblings and almost always shared a bedroom with at least one of them. It’s strange, then, to have so much space to myself. While this has its advantages, it certainly has its shortcomings as well. For one thing, it’s quiet, almost aggravatingly so at times. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to so much music within the span of one week in an attempt to fill the silence.

Nevertheless, some of the unexpected adjustments I’ve experienced have been entirely positive. The best example of this is the plethora of resources available at GVSU. I went to Campus Life Night last week and was overwhelmed by the number of clubs represented. There were more than I could have imagined, and they satisfied an enormous range of interests. With so many outlets for professional and creative pursuits available, it will be easy for me to become an active member of the campus community in ways that are both productive and fun.

These past few weeks, I’ve learned that college life is full of adjustments, but I think that the way we view and treat these adjustments directly affects their impact on us. There is certainly a lesson to be learned or some knowledge to be gained in each of these situations, regardless of whether or not they are difficult or unpleasant. In keeping with the infectious spirit of optimism shared by GVSU’s students, then, it seems only natural that I should choose to exchange the word “adjustments” for the word “opportunities.” After all, with the right attitude, isn’t that what they really are?