As I boarded Southwest 468 to Houston I realized that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a pang of longing to stay an extra day at home: I was both eager and exhilarated to return to college. Rice has already sturdily stationed itself as a mainstay in my life. I have had an abundance of new experiences since arrival, and it being mid-February has not changed the frequency of these occasions. Yesterday, I basked in 79 degree weather whilst my numerous friends at institutions in the Northeast waded through snow and slush to get to class. Today, I fired a crossbow at a slab of cow flesh. Tomorrow, the world. Daily, acquaintances become closer to friends, and friends encroach on the line separating them from family. As second semester continues to unfold, a freshman cannot help but feel that the Rice experience is no longer a foreign, dream-like wonderland, and far more akin to a second home.
When O-Week ended, we were thrust into the hustle and bustle of college life like baby sea turtles taking to an ocean filled with both promise and uncertainty. Thereafter, the learning experience was ceaseless, as we learned from each speech, meeting and PowerPoint slide that Rice threw at us. Coffeehouse was our fueling station, and our steadfast study habits the vehicle with which we steered ourselves into the future. Sure, we veered left here and swerved right there (frankly, I think I skidded onto the curb once or twice), but returning from winter recess was a completely different story.
Despite being an overzealous freshman and only two months older than I was in first semester, I feel like a veteran already. Waking up for 8am classes became routine, and I eased my way into more personal relationships with my professors, even getting lunch or coffee with them on occasion. Seeing high school seniors gazing up at the arched Sallyport on their tours started to give me an upwelling of nostalgia, rather than the pangs of anxiety I used to feel as I reflected on my own college process. To my utmost surprise, I feel more mature as a second semester freshmen than I ever did as a second semester senior.
Naturally, any upperclassman who may read this will scoff. “Pfft!” they’ll exclaim, “how little he knows!” And they’re right—I’m still just a freshman. I’m still just a rinky-dink teenager trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, and I will most likely change my major five more times before figuring out what that purpose may be. For now, all that it seems I can do is keep my head above water and continue to relish the youthful stages of my Rice experience.