The first month in a new place is always intimidating.
Especially when that new place involves a class of nearly 4,000 people you’ve never met and dozens of red-brick buildings that all look identical.
That love for new-found independence, in combination with the nostalgia and longing to be back with your family and old high school friends, is common. It’s so common, in fact, that it’s usually a starting point for making new friends.
And after a few weeks, a routine starts to form. Things slide into place and Oxford begins to feel like home. But these snippets of awkwardness and adjustment often linger in the minds of those who experienced them well after they find their feet.
Introduction written by Emily Dattilo and Duard Headley.
By Sydney Arend
I gazed in the mirror at my green shirt, dress pants, and tan flats. I bought this outfit specifically for the Empowering Leadership pre-semester program I was attending during the two days before Miami University’s official move-in day.
I loved every part of my new outfit, but I was especially excited about my shoes. I was used to wearing heels with my business professional attire, and I was glad that I now had a pair of more comfortable flats for my walk across campus.
Or so I thought.
I skipped to the main lobby of Hepburn Hall from my third floor dorm room where I greeted a few of the girls in my program that lived in my hall. From there, we began our ten-minute walk to the dining hall. As we strolled across campus, I noticed that my right heel began to hurt as my shoe became progressively more uncomfortable.
I hid the grimace that began to form as I attempted to maintain a normal stride. The daunting pain subsided when we finally arrived at the entrance to Garden Commons, but the pain was then replaced with a sticky sensation that spread across the back of my foot.
I turned to look down at my heel, horrified to see that it was completely covered in blood.
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“Let me help,” said Lindsay, one of the girls that I walked with after she saw my injury.
“Thank you so much, but you don’t have to do that,” I responded.
“No, seriously, I want to help,” she pressed, leading me to a chair and bringing me a few napkins that I could use to clean my foot and shoe.
I managed to scrub the blood from the heel of my foot and found a band-aid I could use to cover my blister. However, my effort to remove the stain from inside of my shoe was pointless, and I had to settle for having a large, red stain on the tan leather inside of my shoe.
When we left the dining hall, I attempted to continue walking in my shoes, but my shoe was pulling so badly on the back of my foot that I could not bear the pain any longer. I felt instant relief as I slipped off my shoes and let the soles of my feet greet the warm sidewalk.
“How does your foot feel?” Rachel, another girl from the program asked me.
“A lot better now that I took my shoes off,” I responded. We both chuckled as we continued our walk to Armstrong Student Center.
I spoke with Lindsay and Rachel for the rest of the day, grateful for their kindness, and that evening we exchanged numbers on our walk back to Hepburn. As I told them goodbye and entered my dorm room, stepping onto my grey fuzzy rug, a stinging sensation spread across the soles of my feet.
I grimaced, realizing that walking barefoot across the hot sidewalk resulted in burns on the bottom of my feet. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket, composing a message that read, “Oh my gosh guys, the sidewalk burnt my feet!”
I smiled as I sent the message to Lindsay and Rachel, realizing that my crappy tan flats led me to my first friends at Miami.
By Sarah Grace Hays
As I strutted from the hotel lobby to the car, I knew Miami was my place and I could not wait to begin my college journey. I was filled with wonder about the day ahead.
Would it be magical?
An hour into my move into Collins Hall, my mom and I had already fought over the assembly of a refrigerator shelf and a six-cube storage cabinet. My dad had decided he would sit by and watch. Eventually, he offered to take the trash out.
That's when the day took a jarring turn.
My roommate had moved in several days earlier for the Made@Miami event, so the trash can was already full. As my dad tugged at the bag to remove it from the bin, a bright pink latex object fell out onto the floor.
A condom. Out of its wrapper.
After a few seconds of pure confusion, he began to gag.
Across the room, my mom and I went into a fit of laughter.
My dad stormed out of the room to find the nearest bathroom and rub his hands raw with soap and water. As he tried to pull himself together, I received a text from my roommate saying she would be at the dorm in about 20 minutes.
My parents promptly decided that now was the best time to take a quick trip to Walmart. As we searched the store for S-hooks, tupperware containers and more, my dad continued to worry about the inevitable meeting with my roommate.
“Who could she possibly have done that with this early on?” he asked. “Is she a party girl?”
He spiraled into an anxious stupor as my mom and I tried and failed to assuage his concerns.
When we finally arrived back on campus, my mom and I carried the bags to my room as my dad parked the car. My roommate was waiting with a plate of warm cookies and an eager hug.
She introduced herself to my mom, then flitted from the room to meet a friend for lunch. When my dad arrived, his relief was obvious.
Finally, it was time for my parents to leave, and I assured them I would investigate the mystery of the bright pink condom.
Several days later, I finally built up the courage to ask my roommate about it. She explained that she worked at Planned Parenthood, and as a result she has access to an abundance of condoms.
One of them had been flavored, and she and a couple of her friends were curious.
Enter: the unwrapped condom in the trash can.
I was comforted and I explained to her what had happened with my parents. We shared a good laugh and moved on easily.
Now I'm eager to see the formal introduction of my roommate to my dad.
By Lexi Whitehead
I love orange juice.
For me, it’s kind of like coffee, since I never actually tried to enjoy overdosing on caffeine first thing in the morning. So, before my 8:30 UNV 101 class, I poured myself some orange juice and made my way to Irvin Hall with my morning fuel on one side of my backpack and hydroflask on the other.
Stay hydrated, kids.
When I finally found my classroom, I was greeted by a cramped circle of too many desks. To be fair, the amount of desks was correct for the amount of people. But, the amount of people was too high for the size of the room.
To make this grouping even more unfortunate, the desks included those weird tabletops attached to the side that rotate. And, while it’s a nice concept, the desks require you to move that tabletop anytime you want to get in, out, or under the desk.
The class was pretty uneventful.
I sat squished between two other girls and sipped my juice, trying to stay awake. It was introduction after introduction then syllabus. Pretty standard, boring, first day stuff. But when I decided to get a pencil out of my backpack, the girl to my left had the same thought at the same time and “BAM!”
The desks slammed into each other.
Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic. It was more like a bump and a thud but it was enough to send my cup onto the floor in the middle of our circle. The orange juice splashed onto the floor and every one of my classmates saw.
My first thought: Wow, that’s embarrassing.
My second: The professor just explained how technically, food and drink wasn’t allowed but it was fine as long we didn’t make a mess.
My third: I had to clean this up. (These are all very calm versions of what I was thinking. I was very much freaked out. Curse words and self-deprecation were definitely involved.)
I got up out of my hazardous desk and quickly picked up my cup before rushing out to find paper towels. Everything was fine — I just had to find a bathroom.
But, I didn’t actually have any idea of where one was.
I hurried through the seemingly maze-like halls, halting to read every door sign and then picking up pace again.
It was like playing a game of red light, green light — except I was all by myself and I had no idea where my goal destination was. I zig-zagged through the hall, almost bouncing off the walls in a freaked-out frenzy trying to look around every corner until I saw it.
My savior took the form of a rectangle on the wall with a simplified figure of a woman on it.
I had made it to the women’s restroom.
I shoved the door open, ripped countless paper towels from the dispenser and made a beeline back to the classroom.
Upon my return to the cursed circle of desks, I used my wadded up paper towels to clean up what juice hadn’t already soaked into the carpet.
This was the first time my professor realized what had happened and it didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. Everyone in my class had already moved on to filling out their “life-maps” and probably did so less than two seconds after my spill.
So as it turns out, it might be true that no one really cares what you do in college. Especially all the other freshman in your UNV 101 class who are likely as embarrassing as you are.
By Joey Puckett
The car was soaked in a tense silence.
We drove past collapsing trailer homes not three miles from a community of several well-preserved country palaces. It was a far cry from Minneapolis. At the sight of an imposing red brick home nestled next to an idyllic, undersized cornfield, my old man quietly mumbled to himself.
My father had not set foot in Ohio for over 23 years. He told me to turn my music off, and then began violently coughing.
Ferocious, empty coughs.
He leaned his passenger seat back. His bald head squeaked against the leather and his wide gut flattened as he lowered. He lulled himself to sleep with his complaints.
Less than an hour later, we arrived in Oxford. I was thrilled to be seeing Miami University for the first time. Eyes wide, I breathed a sigh of relief. The campus was as picturesque as advertised. I was giddy, anxious to move into my dorm. My dad, immune to my contagious attitude, remained silent, except to point out spots where his old friends used to hang out during his days as a student.
Our first order of business was not to pick up my student I.D., as we had planned. Rather, he asked me to approach a Kroger parking lot just a little ways off-campus. I thought he might be gunning for some cold water or hot soup, both of which often helped to ease his frequent coughing fits.
He remained in the car. I unbuckled my seatbelt, but he ordered me to drive off.
He guided me into the neighborhood behind Kroger.
“This was the edge of our farm,” he said, stone-faced. He did not speak again for two blocks. He stared out the window. “Lot’s changed.”
“I used to drive the tractor all up and down here,” he said to no one in particular. “Aunt Pammy would sit on it too. Dad didn’t want any of the girls driving the tractor if me or Uncle Tom was around to.”
It was rare for my dad to talk about his own father. He rolled down the window and the fresh air carried away the new-car scent.
My father’s family moved constantly as a kid. His father, a carpenter, moved the family between four states before my father left them for Colorado. In his 12 years of public schooling, he attended 10 different schools. Oxford was the only city they stayed in for over a year. They lived there for three.
He and his brother both returned to Oxford to attend Miami for college. They did this because, unbeknownst to me, our family has deep roots in the area. Though my father and I are close, he never told me how connected I am to Oxford.
As we walked up High Street, my father stopped long past any of the popular bars and restaurants to point out the rooms above a janky lawyer’s office.
“Grandpa and Grandma, my grandpa and grandma, lived up there for 40 years. He sold oriental rugs, that old hippy.”
I had no clue that my great-grandparents lived in Oxford. You’d think that my father would have mentioned that at some point during my college selection process, but he didn’t.
We walked back down High Street, and he tried to remember the old spot of the restaurant where he worked at as a student in 1979. We walked into the new business, a sandwich joint called La Bodega. We ordered our sandwiches, and the two undergrads behind the counter got to work.
As she threw my Reuben into the toaster, my dad approached the counter and asked her, “Do you know if a restaurant named 'Mother’s' used to be here?”
The undergrad looked at him as though he came from outer space.
“I have no idea.”