When I went back to Nashville at the end of August, my hotel was right on the edge of Vanderbilt property. To be more specific, there was a parking lot in between the hotel and the Vanderbilt football stadium. It was a bit strange to be right at the campus where I spent 4 years – and drove through even longer – especially because so much has changed since my senior year. And even more has changed since my freshman year! It got me thinking about my freshman year, even more so because I stayed with a friend who I met on my second day of college and was in my orientation group. With all of these reminders of my freshman year, it got me thinking about what I wish I had known then. Like many of my life experiences since I became a blogger, that led me to a blog post. Here is what I wish I knew my freshman year of college.
It’s 2009 and you’ve recently started your freshman year at Vanderbilt. You’re excited for the next four years and what they will hold, and you’re excited for your new home. Vanderbilt feels familiar, but Nashville is so far from what you’re used to. And you love it. It’s hard to wrap your head around that the Vanderbilt campus features more people than your hometown and all much closer together. Everything is new, and sometimes you can’t believe that you got so lucky.
Prepare yourself because next four years are going to be wild. After adjusting to your new life – and because extremely annoyed that it stays so hot for so long – it will all change again next semester when you join a sorority and then join concert choir. Both will completely shape the rest of your college career. Delta Gamma brings you sisters and friends who will be key parts in your life, as well as experiences you’ll treasure forever. One will bring a whole bunch of people who can’t go to their homes home with her for Easter, others will be there through breakups and friend drama, and many others will be in many of your classes throughout college. Even when your chapter has to close in your sophomore year, they will be with you for the rest of your time in Nashville.
Easily the biggest influence on your life will be the Vanderbilt University Concert Choir. The vast majority of your friends beyond college will be ones you meet there, and you’ll meet both of your college boyfriends in choir. The friends you make will be there through all of the messes from your arthritis – 4 will take you to the ER on 3 different trips – as well as so many more wonderful adventures. You will go on one tour with them to Washington, D.C., and on another to Savannah and Orlando. There will be so many amazing themed choir parties and social events. But when all is said and done, you will only have been in choir for a combined total of 2 years. This is how amazing choir is and how great an influence it can have on your life. As VUCC says, “Come for the music, stay for the people.” Choir will be one of the top 3 best decisions of your college experience.
But you’ll join choir because you’ll have to stop playing the viola. You came to choir with your viola and with the plan to keep taking lessons, but within a few months, your hand will make that stop. The issues you had with your hand in your junior year of high school will come back and it will become too painful for you to continue playing the viola at the level that you have been because practicing for 1-2 hours as you are not supposed to do too much. Like your junior year of high school, you’ll end up in the splint in the picture above. Stopping to play an instrument will break your heart, but you’ll know that it’s the right decision, and, after all, it will bring you to choir.
College won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You’ll learn so much and take so many great classes (even if you’ll have to take oceanography and geology). Your heart will be broken and you’ll lose friends and your health will get awful – next summer you’ll wake up one morning unable to open your mouth more than 8mm and you’ll be diagnosed with arthritis – but it will be an amazing experience. Nashville and Vanderbilt will become your second home, and when you have to leave eventually, you’ll leave a piece of your heart there.