On move-in day, I knew precisely twelve other students, all of whom I had met in mid-June at the Entrada Scholars Program. Several of us took the above photo together on August 31, 2013. Without the friendship of the people I met at Entrada, I am certain that I would not have finished my first year at Calvin. Pictured left to right: Shontavia Weatherly, Kelsey Waterman, Becca Iturralde, Jessica Lewis, Alicia Coultas, Helen Boayue, me, Bethany Love.   

After a loving, sincere goodbye to my parents as they headed home to Alabama, I turned into a huffy brat when they called me to return to the parking lot a few minutes later. They wanted me to have a pair of sandals I had forgotten in the minivan, and I snapped something to the effect of, “Just leave me alone now and stop hovering because I’m going to be fine.” The memory of their faces in this moment is one of two life events that can make me cry on cue. 

In an early round of “Never Have I Ever” at the circle of hell known as Quest, I made the ghastly, impulsive, catastrophic error of saying “Never have I ever been to high school.” Obviously (but not obvious soon enough to tragic freshman Sadie), no one could relate to this statement, so I had to follow up with the explanation that I was homeschooled, all while observing side-eye pass between several members of the group. In mere seconds, my status in this group dropped to the lowest place in the pecking order. (For another account of the nightmarishness of Quest, see Carolyn Muyskens’ excellent piece). 

I skipped the final day of Quest because I never could recover from the unfortunate incident above, and (perhaps as a coping mechanism? Maybe? Could it be?), I found my group to be exceptionally annoying. Becca, pictured third from the left above, also skipped and came to see me in Veenstra 272; we watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower while the late morning sunshine streamed through the window. 

The weekend before classes started, a group of Entrada friends and I went grocery shopping at the Fresh Market in Gaslight Village and cooked chicken spaghetti together in the second Veenstra coffee kitchen. We felt very grown up. On Labor Day evening, we talked at the Seminary pond for a long time. “I can’t believe we’re really in college,” one of us said every fifteen minutes. 

I missed my very first class of the fall semester (8:35 English 101 with Laura McGrath) due to extraordinary menstrual cramps that left me whimpering on the shower floor. A strong dose of Advil helped me make it to 10:30 Spanish 203 with Alisa Tigchelaar.  

On the second day of classes, my phone made its way from my back pocket into a library toilet. A wave of despondent homesickness smashed into me as I tried to press the water out of the phone and into paper towels. The phone revived within a couple of days; the homesickness swelled all semester long.

I was told of a freshman guy who looked like Thor; I would know him when I saw him, said my source. In September, I did know him when I saw him emerging from SE. Frantically, I elbowed my roommate, Jessica (pictured center and front) to a stop on the path nearby. “Him, it’s him, we have to say hi!” I hissed. We did say hi, and I learned his real name: Luke. Today, he is my beloved spouse of one and a half years. 

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