Getting used to an unfamiliar campus and a new community is something that doesn’t typically happen within Orientation week.
It can take months to finally feel like you belong and can call campus your home. For me, it wasn’t until October, nearly two and a half months after our move-in date, that I realized I was finally saying I lived in Raleigh as opposed to, “I’m just going to school in Raleigh.” This is a process that takes time and no one should feel rushed by the comparisons being made between themselves and their classmates.
Although change can be very intimidating, it ultimately brings new outlets for personal growth. Finding spots that made me feel like I was at home in this unfamiliar city played a major role in my journey of finding my place here on-campus, and later, my place here in Raleigh. Getting out of my dorm and exploring the area around me with new friends was most beneficial for me. I found spots in downtown Raleigh to film and take pictures at, thrift stores to shop in, and places on campus to spend my time in.
Finding areas on-campus that allowed me to be productive and focused was one of the most important parts of this process since so much of my day is spent walking on these bricks to and from class. I remember the first time I truly found my own space on an afternoon in September. I was given an assignment from my Introduction to Education class which required me to go find the office of one of my professors. I set up a time to meet with Dr. Vepraskas, one of the professors for my Climate Change and Sustainability class, and saw that his office was located in Williams Hall. I had never heard of this building until this moment, but I eventually found it in the brickyard after using my GPS (I was still using my phone’s GPS to get everywhere at this point). Little did I know when I set up this appointment that I would simultaneously find my new favorite spot on campus.
I didn’t realize it at first, but I had built a routine around this place.
Everyone has a certain type of area they work best in, and this place was exactly what I needed. There were big open windows that let in natural light, plants surrounding the workspace, and very little foot traffic which prevented me from getting distracted every few minutes. I had finally found an area that made me feel comfortable in this otherwise stressful environment. I returned every week to work on assignments from class and found this to be my most productive spot on-campus.
I didn’t realize it at first, but I had built a routine around this place. I followed this routine for weeks until I walked up the stairs one day and the area was completely disassembled. The plants were moved, tables changed, and the seats were nowhere to be seen. I felt like my whole day had been turned upside down just from a room simply being rearranged.
After reflecting on this moment, I found that I had learned a lesson from this rather small, but impactful, incident. Life is going to throw things at you when you’re least expecting it. You might have a system in place that gets disturbed for the day, but you can’t let it affect you for the long term. We have to adapt to and overcome these unexpected changes in order to keep moving forward, even if it’s not how you thought the plan would go. We just have to relax and believe that everything will work itself out in the end. Because for me, to no one’s surprise, the room was put back together the next week, all cleaned and polished like nothing had even changed.
Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program