Breaks make new students’ transitions difficult, increase importance of College community

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GRAPHIC BY JAE CHO/ THE FLAT HAT

When the abrupt “hurrication” sent me back to New Jersey three weeks ago, I caught a glimpse of my high school in full swing: traffic circled the building, students crowded the entrance and teachers gossiped in the parking lot. I was in utter disbelief — they started school without me?

My ongoing denial of being a freshman at the College of William and Mary instead of a senior at Montgomery High School is largely due to the short amount of time spent separated from home. Nineteen quick days were all freshmen had to grasp the reality of being a college student before the mandatory evacuation thrust them back to familiar air-conditioned bedrooms and home cooked meals. Returning to my house after a few weeks on this beautiful campus felt like hopping off a plane from Hawaii; I was done with my “vacation” at the College and more than ready to revert back to my previous lifestyle.

Even when settled back into Williamsburg after the “hurrication,” we continue to escape reality when our developing routines are interrupted with visits from loved ones.

Students’ families frequent the College for Family Weekend, football games or simply to check in. As sincere as these visits may be, they make it difficult for freshmen to take the giant leap into adulthood.

I appreciate my dad driving four hours from his job in Maryland solely to spend time with me, but his inability to let go only prohibits me from becoming truly independent.

Without a doubt, fall break provides the relief that students need from the daunting “midterm season.” For the members of the class of 2022 who plan to leave the campus, however, the break comes with a cost. Although we were given 27 more days to convince ourselves that our home is the College, uncertainty continues to cloud our new lives.

The fresh experiences and exciting opportunities of higher education rival the warming memories of high school and our friendly neighbors that overcome us when we return to our hometowns. While I am eagerly making arrangements for a weekend in New Jersey, I have grown concerned for my readjustment following the days after Oct. 16. Will the longing for familiarity weigh me down and affect my attitude for the rest of the semester?

To avoid the possible repercussions of fall break, I advise freshmen to put down roots in Williamsburg. For the next few days, immerse yourself in extracurricular activities, sit next to someone different in class and grab a bite to eat at Chick-fil-A.

Bottom line, spend less time in your room staring at the pictures on the wall of life before college and find your place here. It may take some extra effort, but there’s a big payoff — an easier transition period post-fall break.

“Summer camp” is how the freshmen described Orientation week, which meant the freedom, friendships and peculiar surroundings all seemed fleeting. Moving into college was one of the most drastic changes we’ve ever faced, so naturally, we equated it to a concept more fathomable. However, the sooner we grasp that we’ve arrived at a new, more permanent stage of our lives, the happier and more focused we’ll be. So instead of counting down the days to this Saturday, I’m going to focus on how I can improve my life in Williamsburg with the time frame given to me.

My goal for the upcoming break in New Jersey is this: look back at my high school with fondness, but long for the comfortable community of the College.

Email Manaswi Alagani at malagani@email.wm.edu