Since first grade, my best friend and I have gotten together after our first day of school to give a moment by moment account of what happened on our day: who we sat next to, how our teachers were, embarrassing moments we had, any cute guys we met, the whole deal. Now that we’re in different states at different colleges, we have to give each other the first day rundown over FaceTime. On Wednesday of week one, I had the expected FaceTime date with my best friend, but the conversation was extremely different from our conversation from last year. Last year, as a freshman, every single aspect of college was new — a campus waiting to be explored, friends yet to be made, professors still unmet, funky Stanford traditions unknown.
When I moved in on the Saturday before classes started there were no RAs screaming my name as I entered the dorm and there were no scheduled activities where I could meet other students. After my family and I moved my things into my room, I was faced with the question, now what? I texted a friend and grabbed dinner with her before visiting another friend’s room. What a different feeling it was actually knowing people the moment I stepped on campus, having friends to come home to. I immediately felt at ease, happy to be back at a familiar place with familiar people — quite the opposite of what I experienced last year.
As I headed back to my dorm after a Stanford Daily meeting around 9:30 p.m. last Sunday, I heard some tubas, trombones, drums and shouts. I also saw a few police cars beginning to block off Escondido Road. Ah, Band Run. My heart felt a little bit of a pang as I thought back to last year’s Band Run — how chaotic it felt, how lucky I was to meet my now best friend at college, how overwhelming the running, shouting, crazy-band-playing was. I smiled, excited for and jealous of the freshmen who were likely experiencing those emotions. I was jealous of all they had ahead of them, the excitement they must have been feeling due to the mere fact that they were here. On the other hand, I wasn’t the least bit jealous of the nervousness, the lostness they may have been feeling simultaneously. As I ducked into a different road to avoid the crowd, I was once again reminded of how different things were now. I even knew shortcuts on this campus which felt so big and impossible to navigate a year earlier.
Every year since middle school, I’ve woken up earlier than my alarm on the first day of classes. Perhaps my subconscious is anxious for the new year starting, or afraid of starting the year off being late. This happened to me this year as well. Last Monday my body woke me up at 7:30 a.m., which was much earlier than I needed to be up before my first class. I couldn’t help noticing all my “seconds” and comparing them with my “firsts.” My first class freshman year was a Thinking Matters class called Stories Everywhere, and now I’d be attending a Human Biology class. My first first meal was salmon, and my second first meal would be fried rice (I knew to avoid the usually dry chicken). My first time looking for classrooms in Main Quad, I left 30 minutes early. Now, I know exactly where the Geology Corner is. The first student group I’d joined was the Stanford Daily; now I was tabling at Activities Fair explaining the different sections of the paper to freshmen.
As I look forward into the year, I am realizing that a lot of my “firsts” of college are behind me. I am nostalgic. I am relieved. I am sad that time seems to be passing so quickly and I am excited for new adventures to come. I look forward to my “seconds” spent at this incredible, stressful, healing, stimulating place with incredible, stressed, healing, stimulating people — both old and new.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.