Defining Home

I used to see home as a stationary object — a house situated between the ocean and the bay in rural Northern California. Where redwood trees grew in saltwater clogged air and I knew everything, I grew up with it traced on the back of my hand. There was an ode of familiarity: our old parlor stove that spit up flames as we tossed in wood; the drawing I made in kindergarten that my mother refused to take down; my cat, who would be content sitting next to you until you tried to pet her; and the treadle sewing machine my dad brought home when I was eight.

I always knew college marked a time of limbo. We are in-between the stages of angsty rebellious teens and adults who know where their lives will take them. Everything is suspended in the current unknown, wherein we’re convinced that anything could happen. (Because anything can.)

I expected that for nine months out of the year we’d branch out. Explore a new place, learn things, gather all of these experiences which we’re told will define our life and then we go back home. Back to our roots, back to everything we knew from before. I forgot that our perspectives would shift.

On a cork-board in my childhood house, there is a pinned up flyer with a picture of campus that says, “HOME.” My mom put it there when it first came in the mail nearly two years ago and it has stayed there since then. When I went to Orientation and sat in the stands along with everyone else, students were counting how many times Ron Thom repeated the word. (I think it was 67, if memory serves correctly.)

Although I could tell you countless numbers of facts that I learned in my first year here, none of them are the most valuable thing I could say. Instead it’s that I’ve discovered home isn’t a stationary object: it is the way people make you feel. It’s the way I feel here.

It’s falling asleep at three a.m. with your friends talking and laughing around you. The morning the fountain froze, when we all gathered around it, taking pictures of the icicles hanging down. Making cookies on Pi Day and setting an alarm so you are eating them right at 3/14/15 9:26:53. Running in the rain. Being sung to by a barber shop quartet on a friendaversry.  Racing to the bus stop and managing to get there right as it pulls up. Going to Oppenheimer Cafe in the rain, right before closing, when the lights shine just so. Spending hours helping a friend with an essay, for a class that you’re not even in. Tight hugs, long, slow smiles. Playing Justin Bieber’s acoustic album and Nickelback, just because we could. Sitting and starring at the stars. Grabbing a cardboard box filled with packing peanuts and commandeering it. Bringing it into your room. Convincing people to come and sit in The Box. Seeing someone on campus and taking a “SPOTTED” picture. Walking to the Met late at night for The Cookie, just for them all to be gone. Curling up in a blanket, drinking tea, while watching a movie. Hanging a stray sock on a command hook, to see how long it’ll take people to notice. (Sixteen hours.)  Waking up early to meet people for breakfast, hours before your first class. And staying up with your friends, even though it’s three a.m. and laughing.

The fountain, the morning after it froze.

The fountain, the morning after it froze.

Gaea sitting in The Box, before she brought it back to our room.

Gaea sitting in The Box, before she brought it back to our room.

Going out to dinner for our last meal together before summer. From front to back, left to right: Maddy, Me, Gaea, Maggie, Emily, and Claire.

Home is all of the memories I’ve made here and all the memories to come.








Small Liberal Arts Colleges

Recently on Facebook I stumbled upon this article: Struggles Everyone At A Liberal Arts Colleges Knows on Buzzfeed that basically summed up every thought I’ve ever had at Puget Sound. The statements made in the post which were submitted by the buzzfeed community of people who go to schools like Puget Sound. I could name an incident or moment in time where I’ve had the exact thoughts of the things mentioned at Puget Sound.

And while the title of the articles does indicate the points are struggles, I would say they are also the benefits of going to a liberal arts college. Colleges aren’t just for individuals who want to be a doctor or lawyer, they are for people with a passion for learning, wanting to gain more knowledge about our world and decide how we can impact it. At a liberal arts college we can pull together interdisciplinary learning to be confident in doing unique for ourselves and valuing the arts. yes, I’ve taken some really interestingly named classes such as Medical Discourse and the Body and Constitutional Controversies. Both were my seminar, freshmen English classes that combined redefining writing research papers and how to participate in college-level discussions. And I can’t wait to take a Connections course here, I’m hoping for Health and Medicine but there are so many fascinating options of study that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy if I didn’t come here.

And the one thing I am so happy to be a part of is the community, that we can hold discussions in class about the readings we actually did, that I know the names of my classmates to interact with that, I know the names of the people who make my chai lattes at Opp (thanks Em!), silently laughing in the Library because I accidentally fell down. These experiences in our Puget Sound, liberal arts, community, wouldn’t be possible if I went to a big state school, or a one-track college to just get my science degree. These can be  the struggles if you don’t like someone or you see people that saw you make a complete fool of yourself last night, but those are the small things that when I’m gray and old I won’t remember, I’ll only remember the good times.

Taking a Break

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, and I’ve had many times where I thought to myself, “hmmm that’s interesting maybe I should blog about it” only to inadvertently get distracted and not actually post anything or the feeling of “maybe I should post something, I’ve been blog silent for so long” but I didn’t want to post any foolish nonsense. But then I realized, blogging is just supposed to be a way of expressing myself, for me to throw my thoughts and feelings out into the world and maybe when I’m out take a look back (because hey anything you put on the internet will be there forever… right?) on those formative college years.

If there’s one thing I noticed in the spring semester, it’s that everything is BUSY, like beyond busy! Throughout the semester all the events, schoolwork, planning ahead, applications and end is reaching a crescendo and piles of things to do. The wind has been picking up, but so has the heat so it’s like the even out almost. The cumulative nature of learning is definitely building up like year this semester is coming to a close and all that information is necessary to succeed but in reality we’re been storing information from kindergarten from preschool. A human’s brain is most plastic the first three years of our lives, so basically everything we know, our habits, our behaviors are all built from our experiences before we were three years old! Who needs college anyway right?

Out in Public

I think everyone at one time in their life was (or still is) afraid of doing things in public. Society has all these set standards on what we should be doing, how we should be doing it and where we should be doing it. Today’s Valentine’s Day and I didn’t have any special plans except to participate in my crew team’s ergathon fundraiser. Erg is a land rowing machine that simulates the pressure and stride of rowing with a monitor to measure stroke rate, speed, distance, time and our supporters can donate $10 for every 1K we row or $1 for a power 10 (10 fast strong strokes at 150% effort). Despite the number of students who didn’t know us, or lack of carrying real money around and that weird feeling you get knowing you want to support a good cause but you don’t have money and you’re a broke college student and hungry but you can actually see all the hard work your friends on the crew team are working. And I think while we may not have raised a huge amount of money at our ergathon there were a lot of friends, classmates and even prospective students and families on tour that got to see how hard all the rowers work and what crew is about.

We had hour erging shifts for everyone to get their daily Saturday workout and show our campus (at least those that were up and ventured to the Sub in the morning, although we kept going until 3pm) more about crew. We’re a more obscure sport, we don’t have an official DIII conference anymore and by nature of the sport, smaller teams, less knowledge about it (it’s a legs sport guys NOT an arms sport) that being out in public was good!

A Year Ago

Last week was midterms, and it coincided with my alma mater’s third quarter finals as well. It’s so weird to think a year ago I was deciding where I wanted to go for college. That I was anxiously checking the mail and my email from any sign of the college acceptances. I had friends waiting to hear back from huge state schools, technical schools, the Ivy’s, or any school that would let us leave Hawaii (small rock syndrome we like to call it). I wasn’t super aware of checking my mail with concerts, finals, and leadership conferences to plan so the day I came home to an ivory envelope stating “Open this! It’s Good News Inside!” from Puget Sound I was instantly excited! I decided to wait to open the envelope until both my parents were home so I could share the good news with them!

A year ago I was worried about all the scholarships I was applying for, my entire senior “last” activities and actually going out and being tourist-y around Hawaii. I knew that if I was going away to Puget Sound, I would miss Hawaii with all my friends, family, food, fun and sun so I decided to soak up all the rest of spring and summer; trying to live in the moment. Now, I like to think I’m still living in the moment but I’m more aware of the future. For the 18 years of my life I knew I’d be going all the way through high school and college and then I’d really be on my own to decide what to do. That time is only three years away and I’m still deciding what I want to do, it’s crazy to think it’s only been a year since I was in a completely different place.

From applying to schools, getting accepted, deciding to go to Puget Sound, graduating, my last “free” summer, going off to college, meeting all these new, amazing people and trying new things, I think it’s been a great year. I’ve changed as a person, I was so worried about the differences in college and being away from all that was familiar but Puget Sound welcomed me into the fold and I continue to love my new home. In high school all my upperclassmen friends stressed “make the most of the time you have. It goes by way too fast!” and my senior year I took it all in, every chance I got but I think that saying applies to life. I never thought I’d be almost done with my first year of college already, that I’d only have three more years of Puget Sound and into the real world I will go. But Puget Sound has definitely prepared me for the future and I can’t wait for more opportunities, friendships and learning experiences I’ll encounter along the way.