An Open Letter To Athens & My Freshman Year Of College

Ten days stand between my “freshman” status and me. After just four more days of classes, a weekend and four days of final exams, I can no longer use the excuse “I’m a freshman” to explain my unwarranted behavior (or my repeated issue of getting lost on the way to the dining halls – which still happens every once in a while).

While I am excited see what new adventures this summer holds in good ole Cincinnati complete with my puppy, my backyard and my best friends, every time I think about classes ending and parting ways with the Athens bricks, I can’t help but feel some pre-summer blues.

It seems like as soon as the ice has melted and every day in Athens starts to feel like heaven, I’m getting kicked out to fend for myself in Cincinnati until August 21 rolls around.

My relationship with Athens wasn’t love at first sight. I’ll never forget the utter fear that overcame me when my parents first dropped me off—What if my roommate hated me? What if there’s nothing to eat in the dining hall? What if I didn’t make any friends?

And—believe it or not—from day one, my roommate hardly said a word to me, I couldn’t find anything to eat during my first dining hall experience and I spent my first night alone in my room spilling hot water all over my floor as I attempted to make ramen.

It certainly wasn’t my dream first day, but I can honestly say that aside from some rough patches, almost every day was better than the day before it.

I watched a community of people crawl through houses on Mill Street on Welcome Weekend. I went on a run with a hallmate down the beautiful Hocking River. I spent hours with my learning community in study rooms trying to master philosophy concepts. I watched the sun set after a rigorous hike up Bong Hill. I attempted to summon spirits via Ouija board at OU’s haunted abandoned insane asylum. I was falling in love with Athens and everybody in it before I even realized what was happening.

I can’t say every experience of my freshman year was perfect, but I’ve learned a number of things from it. Yes, I’ve learned how to give a proper persuasive speech, how to analyze Shakespeare’s poetry in 1500 words and how to break down a philosophical argument, but there’s so much more to college than that.

I’ve learned how to live alone, how to ask for help when I need it and how to manage my time. I learned to value every person I meet, because not all of them are here to stay. I learned to schedule alone time, to keep track of my keys and to balance the amount of extracurriculars I joined (I’m starting to wonder if I’ll get emails from the nutrition, wildlife and running club for the rest of my life.)

I’m not going to throw all this away when I go to Cincinnati for the summer, but I’m certainly going to miss walking through beautiful College Green every day.

So, Athens, I know this isn’t goodbye forever, but I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss the late nights spent in the library, the late mornings where my roommate and I fill each other in on what happened our nights before, and the occasional tofu lunch option in Shively Dining Hall.

Goodbye, freshman year of college. Ups and downs, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just have to keep reminding myself not to cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened.

Much love,

Rachel