My last first day of school. That Monday that students everywhere both dread and look forward to had particular poignancy for me this year. I was a senior, or, as I’ve also come to think of it, officially in the 16th grade. As my dad reminded me in an email early that morning, there was always the possibility of grad school after Middlebury, but I couldn’t escape the realization that for all intents and purposes, this was it.
I tried hard to recount past first days of school. What did I wear to Ms. Levine’s kindergarten class on day one? How did I feel before walking into seventh grade homeroom? I vaguely remember going to the first day of high school with my best friend Bridget, her mom driving us in a blue Jetta, pulling up to the curb past senior lot where kids who seemed infinitely older and obviously cooler than me milled about, blasting music and shouting cheerfully across rows of cars. Other than that, I have to say, the details of my previous first days are pretty fuzzy.
This year, I awoke early for my 8:40 AM class, U.S. National Elections. Of the six other girls I live with, four of us were up, brushing teeth, packing books, making last minute outfit adjustments before walking out the door into the crisp September air. I had two classes that day, and managed a busy afternoon with working here in the Admissions Office, running in the gorgeous trails around campus and formatting the newspaper for our first issue out that Thursday (side note: The Middlebury Campus is the school’s student weekly. It rocks and you should definitely check out our new and improved website: middleburycampus.com). At the end of a long day — filled with both new and familiar faces — I arrived back home with a smile on my face.
Since then, the days have proceeded in typical Middlebury fashion: fast! It’s been a blur of classes, meetings, late nights, problem sets and books. But mixed in with those memories are experiences of a different — non-academic — sort. Since classes have started, I’ve constructed flower crowns and ground corn kernels to make corncakes at a nearby fall harvest festival. I’ve biked 25 miles and sampled treats along the way from a variety of farms in one of Vermont’s best autumn events, the Tour de Farms. I’ve chatted with friends and professors at a reception for students who recently returned from studying abroad. I’ve played field hockey on a turf field overlooking the Green Mountains as the sun was just beginning to set.
The past few weeks illustrate exactly what I love about being a student here. The opportunities for learning and exploration extend beyond the classroom and into the surrounding community and the gorgeous Vermont wilderness. While my first day of school this year may not have been exceptionally exciting, I am aware of a slight shift among my peers and me as we enter the fall semester with full Midd Kid force and enthusiasm. As seniors, we have a renewed appreciation for what it means to be at Middlebury. Graduation day, pushed back as far into our minds as possible, may loom in the distance, but it also challenges us to take advantage of all that we can while we are still here. I am excited not only by class discussions about the current Presidential race or strategies to alleviate hunger around the world; I am excited to delve into the outdoors, meet new students here on campus and laugh a lot with those whom I already know. Somehow, just knowing it is my last year here makes the grass a little greener, the Proctor granola a little sweeter and the music blasting on Saturday nights a little louder.