Early Sunday morning, as soon as Megabus dropped me off in Burlington, a friend of mine picked me up and drove me to Middlebury. It was a good hour commute, but we spent all that time updating each other on school, work, and family news. I was surprised to tell her that this was going to be my last semester in Middlebury College. That starting on Monday, it was going to be my first and last day on campus, and every day that followed will also count as my first and last days in Vermont. I was surprised because I did not feel the time fly by, and I wondered…what have I done all these years to become the person I am today? I also asked myself if I honestly felt like I have grown as a person in MIddlebury College and if I made the right choice by coming to Vermont. “After all these years,” I started and my friend listened quietly as she drove up and down the green hills on the way.
When I was a high school senior in 2008, I remember applying to eight colleges, but none of them was Middlebury College. I did not even know Middlebury College existed until my guidance counselor brought it up one day. For some reason, he strongly believed that Middlebury College was the right place for me. At the time, I was clueless about my future, career, and choices. Also, I had no idea what major in! All I wanted to do was to submit my applications and get over the stressful college application process.
However, my guidance counselor had other plans. He had set an appointment with me to review my applications, personal statements, essays, SAT scores, etc. He said that I was set to go, but he wanted to make a suggestion. I thought the suggestion was related to editing my personal statements or retaking the SAT II exams. But he suggested something completely different: apply to MIddlebury College! All I said was, “Middle-what?” but he went on and on about the green hills in Vermont, the diversity on campus, and strong language program.
I applied because he asked me to. A few months later, I was accepted to all nine colleges, and I had to make a life changing decision. I crossed out six colleges off my list, and Middlebury was not one of them. For Preview Weekend, I visited the campus, and I fell in love with the green hills in the background, the white snow that trickled and delicately sat and sparkled on the ground, and the small-sized town that grew silent in dark hours. I was lured by Vermont’s uinque lifestyle and the fact that Middlebury College provided that lifestyle as well. I wanted to get away from New York City because it was too loud, too distracting, and too much for me. I know some people will disagree with my statement, but as a New Yorker, I needed a break from the stressed environment. I took a huge risk on basing my decision on my gut feeling instead of on academics, facilities, and community life, but it was one I don’t regret.
Luckily, I fell in love with the English department and took classes on Creative Writing. I learned two languages (Italian and German), took several political science, sociology/anthropology, and women and gender studies classes, and became a part of several cultural organizations. The best part of my college experience was my creative writing workshop classes because that was when I truly grew as a writer and a person. I sharpened my writing skills and learned to discipline myself into writing hours on end every other day while I managed to do super well on my four classes, commit to volunteer work, and run an organization. In my freshman year, I wrote 234 pages on a novel I am still working on today, seven poems, twenty five short stories, and a few blurbs on my notepad. But I know for a fact that I could have not done it with the help of my professors who, like my guidance counselor, also believed in the power and talent of my writing.
“After all these years, I honestly feel like I learned a lot. I gained enough experience to feel ready to go and about in the real world,” I told my friend. She said that was a cheesy comment, but I knew for a fact that it was one I truly meant and felt since the day I stepped on campus as a prospective student.