leah-85A stampede of freshmen entered the Lang Concert Hall for the formal welcome to Swarthmore College. I looked around and I saw nervous smiles, I heard small talk of “Where are you living?” and “What are you thinking of majoring in?” I was in a new environment where I knew no one, so of course I was a bit uncomfortable, yet that didn’t stop me from approaching people and introducing myself. As the Dean of Admission walked to the podium, the room fell to a silence.  His speech basically complimented the class of 2014. Before earning his round of applause, he said, “You all belong here and no one is a mistake. Welcome Class of 2014!”

Orientation went on for the week and it was fun. I met a lot of great people, participated in fun activities and got to know my roommate better.  But the dean’s words still lingered in my mind.  Could he have been wrong? Did I really belong at Swarthmore? During orientation, my hall mates and I had to participate in a workshop similar to a privilege walk where instead of taking steps forward or backward we stood or sat when we could affirmatively respond to a statement.  The facilitator said, “Stand up if in your household you had fifty or more books.” Everyone, but I, stood.  I was embarrassed but then I kept thinking I am here and I made it here and that’s all that counts.  I have the potential, brilliance, and the determination to succeed at Swarthmore!

The first week of class was not how I expected it to be. I thought I would grasp the topics easily and be the head of the class like I was in high school. During class, I felt discouraged. Everyone was saying brilliant things and I felt like I didn’t belong. I was really down on myself because I had a lot of catching up to do. Again, I kept thinking, “Am I the mistake?” “Can I handle it here?” and “Am I worthy of having the repertoire of being a Swattie?”

But, I realized that a lot of people were feeling the same way.  I was not alone and that gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities. The first week of classes was a shock, but I am adapting to the academics.  I advise you, future student, to meet with your professors so they can help clarify the concepts covered in class. Professors are very accessible and approachable. Other resources are your peers-whether it’s people in your class or an upperclassman who can be a tutor. Also, use your resources as soon as possible or else the semester might not turn out so well.  Even if you think things might go fine don’t be ashamed or nervous to ask for help.

Don’t worry there are more blogs to come!