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Falling into the college experience

There’s nothing like fall on a college campus.

After spending the final weeks of summer sweating on afternoon commutes and wearing the same athletic shorts and t-shirt combo every day, feeling the crisp autumn breeze on your skin and wearing a cozy oversized sweater feels like heaven. 

The weather is perfect for a hot pumpkin spice latte or walking to the Formal Gardens with friends. In a few weeks, the budding red-orange foliage on campus will remind us why poet Robert Frost famously called Miami “the most beautiful campus that ever there was.”

This year, the new season means more than just a transition to sweater weather. Fall marks a new beginning for all of us.

Last fall, I spent my school days cramped over a desk in my childhood bedroom, mindlessly moving my way through asynchronous high school courses and practically dying of boredom during Google Meets. There was no such thing as meeting up at Starbucks in between classes or having study sessions with friends at the library.

Senior year was merely a hurdle I was trying to overcome so I could make it to that mythical “college experience” all of the admissions packets told me about.

One year later, I am having a completely different academic experience.

Rather than attending class on my iPad, I get to sit in a classroom full of people. I get to make small talk with my teachers after class and wave hello to friends while walking through Armstrong. Little things like attending the Unidiversity Festival or Obergefell’s Lloyd and Mary O’Hara lecture make me feel grateful that I’m having a far more immersive learning experience than I did last year. 

Although I have more homework than I did as a remote high school student, gathering with friends at Cafe Lux or having half my corridor study together in the common area makes the less glamorous parts of being a student more manageable.

For the first time in a year and a half, I genuinely enjoy school.

After a year of wearing hoodies and pajamas to class, I like getting ready in the mornings and taking the time to pick out a nice fall outfit. 

Despite the fact that I am ungodly tired on my way to my 8:30 a.m. class, I love walking past the gorgeous fountain outside Hillcrest and listening to whatever new song Pulley Tower is playing.

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I enjoy all of the fall events that I have to look forward to: football and hockey games, outings Uptown, club meetings, upcoming guest speakers and farmer’s market trips. Personally, I am incredibly excited to spend my first Halloween on campus.

As we continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, not everything about this fall is going to be perfect. We are still battling undervaccination, the surge of the Delta variant and breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals. 

Besides COVID, countless people on campus are still dealing with miscellaneous bronchitis/strep/upper respiratory infections and “freshman flu” symptoms. To keep our community safe, we still have to wear masks in classes and in shops uptown.

However, despite these setbacks, I am still overwhelmingly optimistic for fall. 

I’m ready for the trees on campus to look like the gorgeous fall photographs Miami showed me on my first campus visit three years ago. I’m ready to waste all of my declining dollars on coffee and all of my checking account on cute blazers that I can wear to fall-themed activities. 

I’m ready to feel like I’m actually living my life again, rather than just going through the motions of existing.

I’m ready to have “the college experience.”