Please welcome back a former “Voice”, Brooke Shamon, who graduated last June with the BHS Class of 2019. Several of her submissions last year spoke about the college application process and her mixed emotions around graduating and leaving Bedford. Brooke is now settling into her freshman year at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York and offers this reflection as she prepares for her return to Bedford for Thanksgiving break.
First dates and new mates, time can go by in the blink of an eye. I already knew that from the experience of my senior year in high school slipping rapidly through my fingers. In just three short months of college I have formed life-long friendships, made my imprint on the school academically, and survived the many knocks on my door at ungodly hours from friends looking for a hug or a safe place to land. It’s hard to comprehend the fact that Thanksgiving break is already here. Sometimes it feels as if we’ve been here all our lives, have known each all our lives, and belong in New York City. All of which are good things…but nearly indescribable.
Thinking back to the beginning of the semester it’s hard to imagine now what it was like without the core group of friends I now spend most of my day with. My roommate Jessie and I and our friends Deanna and Dani joined this core group late. We thought we had found our people right away and slowly realized we were just looking for people to latch onto and to distract us from the major transition we were making. Our eventual safe-haven from that earlier group was the three guys in our building: Kyle, Kyle, and John. They brought smiles to our faces and nightly foosball playoffs in the lounge.
Gracelyn, Genny, Kim, Heather, Cassidy, Becca, Cameron, Vin, Tyler, and Jess came flooding into our lives at the time we needed them most. While the four of us loved each other and bonded immediately, it was extra special when we found 10 more people just like us. It was harder than any of us realized to be apart from our friends from home. It still is. But having a great group of people to surround ourselves with makes the hard work and the distance from home bearable. Memories of old friends remain strong.
My classes are tough, but I lucked out with most of my professors. This time of year is a constant uphill battle. We’re preparing for finals and at the same time are being attacked with papers to write and projects to finish. My least favorite thing is when a professor assigns reading on top of a paper. One of the toughest lessons you have to learn in college is to prioritize things. One of them may mean you have to skip out on the reading in order to prioritize a paper which is actually worth your grade while the reading may or may not impact it whatsoever.
Since being here I’ve ventured to New York City three times. I had an awesome opportunity to take a trip in with friends for my nineteenth birthday. We stayed in Queens with my cousin. It was quite a preview into what could be my future and I loved every second of it, even the subway rats (gross, I know). I think what I love most about it is that the city is its own world where you just see everything from folks yelling and hollering at one another to kind people opening doors and helping you navigate the subway. New York City is unique; there is something magical about the city that never sleeps. Getting on the train to return to school at the end of a 23,000 step-filled day is the worst part. It’s like leaving a piece of me behind.
Some of the best advice I can give all new college students is to take the time to get off campus. That is so important. It doesn’t have to be to a major city but getting away from the hustle and bustle of college life helps you realize that there is a whole world out there, one which excludes all the textbooks, 8am’s, and papers. Another tip is to find clubs and organizations to fill up whatever free time you may have. The two clubs I have connected with are MCDE, the Marist College Dance Ensemble, and Habitat for Humanity. As I write this the Dance Ensemble is starting rehearsal week for two big shows coming up soon. Spring break 2020 will be spent house-building with Habitat in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. It is great being able to continue working on something I have always loved while at the same time starting something totally new and out of my comfort zone. That’s what college is all about!
College is also a time for self-discovery. Something I learned for the first time after going into New York City was that I could trust myself, that was something I never realized before. Back home, I hated going places alone; I was fearful about even a trip to the Dunkin Drive-thru or sitting in the cafeteria by myself. I didn’t realize how much I needed to be able to depend just on myself until I stayed at my cousin’s and met up with my friends who were coming back to the city from New Jersey. I had taken a morning stroll to the subway station alone, stopping to get a cup of coffee and a muffin at Dunkin’. Then I hopped on the subway to Fifth Avenue and got off at Bryant Park. My friends got a little lost along their way which gave me time to explore the area by myself. At first, I was wary about leaving the table I had claimed as my own for fear that they wouldn’t find me. But I became impatient and set off to find a Starbucks where I had a coffee by myself. Then I walked back to Bryant Park, and to a CVS to pick up a few things – all without my GPS. In the time left before my friends arrived, I figured out the streets we needed to take to get to a local Panera and on to Rockefeller Center, and could lead the way confidently. I felt no need to take my phone out as a barrier for insecurity about being alone. I took it all in, truly embodying Carrie Bradshaw. I could’ve spent the entire day roaming the city on my own. Those two nights in Queens ended with a walk along Queensboro Harbor with my cousin and roommate which was a perfect end to the best birthday weekend I could have asked for.
I’m definitely feeling the growing pains I mentioned in my previous article and life is not perfect one hundred percent of the time. There have been some tough days here, like, for example, the possibility of a new relationship and things not exactly turning out as planned. Another important thing to note is that you really have to put your health and school-work first; boys come behind school and friends and sometimes, you just need to do what’s best for you. College life has so much more to offer than I ever realized, but I’m excited to return home for break and see everyone and everything again. It’s been a long time, Bedford, MA.