Thursday, October 2, 2014

This place will change you (for the better)

When I decided to come to Macalester, almost four years, I had no idea how this place would change me. Though I still have most of my senior year to complete, and many unforeseen changes yet to come, I owe the person I am today to this institution. As a First -Year setting foot on campus, I had no idea what was in store for me. Sure, I knew I’d learn a lot in classes, make new friends from around the world, and become a member of Macalester’s softball team, but I never anticipated that the shy, virtually uninvolved high school girl I used to be would become the – dare I say - outgoing, confident, overinvolved woman that I see when I look in the mirror today.

My first year on campus was filled with academic awakenings and realizations: I could no longer get by with my standard of work from high school, I was learning about ideas and theories I never knew existed, and I got the first (and only) C of my life. 

"All about that base"

Besides academics, my first year was also filled with early morning weightlifting sessions and springtime daily softball. With my parents no longer driving me to practices or weekend games, the decision to play softball was finally entirely mine and I truly fell in love with the game. My first year was filled with academics, softball, and many new friends, but I longed to be involved on campus more broadly.

Sophomore year began with a new work- study position on the student-run programming. To be honest, I had applied for this position on a whim, fueled by my desire to be more involved on campus. And to be honest, I am so thankful for that impulse. Program Board (image above) became my second home on campus. I was able to create and organize student events both on and off campus, by the end of the first month of school, I knew that this is what I’d been looking for. My life became more balanced and I became more than just a student-athlete. My role on Program Board, affectionately called PB, was my first step in learning that branching out was more than okay, it was wonderful.

Junior year was defined both by time spent both away from campus and time nestled in the heart of my collegiate home. The first semester I lived in an 18th century French mansion in Paris; the second semester I lived in a double with a bay window in Kirk Hall. 

I was absolutely terrified of going abroad. I was intimidated by having to speak a different language, adapt to a big city, and make new friends. One month in to study abroad, I realized my fears were almost completely unfounded. I made friends almost instantly and life in Paris was amazing.

I was initially apprehensive to return to the frigid winters and commitments of my life at Macalester. But while I did miss my Parisian life, I threw myself into life at Mac and never looked back. I added more onto my plate than I had ever taken on before, and the things I’d learned abroad began to shine through. I was no longer afraid to approach people and strike up a conversation because, I’d done the same in French for months. I became more independent, I no longer only went to activities and took certain classes because that’s what my friends did. Instead, I became unafraid to try new things without the security blanket of my established pack of friends.

Then, I decided to become an Orientation Leader. This is probably the decision that really sealed my fate as a newly labeled extrovert and now, I cannot imagine my life without this experience. I shared more of myself with more strangers (now friends) than I ever had in all the years of my life combined. Because of Orientation I learned how to be vulnerable, be a better friend, have confidence, and how to be an effective mentor. All lessons I carry with me every day.

To wrap this up, get ready for the best four years of your life, it may not always be easy, but this place will change you, I can almost guarantee, for the better.

Erin Slater ‘15
Federal Way, WA