Illustration by Becca Teichman

A whole new world: a first-year’s view

By Quentin Gaul

Eight months ago when I officially enrolled at Lewis & Clark, it seemed like a far-off dream that did not feel like it would ever be real. It is a surreal and gratifying feeling to finally be living in the place I spent so much time envisioning. College so far has been a strange mix of easily sliding into a new life and routine, and constantly dealing with new challenges and wonders.

I am surprised by how much of my college experience fits into the stereotypes shown in media. I do not think I will ever stop complaining about my 8 a.m. class. I have no discernible sleep schedule and I have been up past 1 a.m. finishing homework more times than I can count. It seems like half of the people I know have gotten a tattoo, a piercing or dyed their hair in the first month away from home. Highly-caffeinated mate is my new favorite drug of choice. No one ever has enough sleep. And based on the number of cookies and bowls of ice cream I have been eating, I am definitely working my way towards gaining that “freshman 15.”

In many ways, however, LC does not conform to the college experience shown on TV because starting college life is much more nuanced than that. I am learning how to live on my own, far away from home, and this comes with a mix of stress and responsibilities. I will be honest and say that every time I have to sign a waiver or do something health related I have to remind myself that I am 18 and I do not need to consult my parents. I have also realized I am a little too eager to get involved with, or at least check out, all of the clubs and events that I can. After a month of doing this non-stop, I am starting to get a feel for how to not overwhelm myself too much. Even though the process is stressful at times, I am enjoying figuring out my life as an adult.

At this point in my experience, the newness of everything is starting to wear off and the fact that I am in college is fully sinking in. I am starting to see some of the ways in which LC is not perfect, such as the low school spirit and high transfer rate, or learning about how the food quality at the Bon used to be better. But I have also gotten to know the aspects of the school that I did not anticipate loving, like how we have talked passionately about Hogwarts houses in my E&D class, or how my IA professor brings her dog to class and also gives really engaging lectures. I am loving my environmental studies class more than I thought I would, which has made me rethink what I want to major in.  

Some days it still kind of feels like I’m on a long vacation away from my home and family, even though I will officially be spending most of my year in Portland. But more and more coming back to my dorm room feels like my home. I think that by Thanksgiving it will feel much more like I am going to visit family, and coming back home to LC, rather than the feeling that I am at LC for an extended time away from home.

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