Taking on Welcome Week one bite at a time

First-year students live in Travers and Wolfe halls. (tcnj.edu)
First-year students live in Travers and Wolfe halls. (tcnj.edu)

By Mia Ingui

I’m always up for a challenge. Before moving into college, I said, “This is going to be great! Freedom, new friends and newfound success.” What I really should have said, though, is, “Mom, we need to buy another fan.”

This summarizes my heartbreaking-yet-heartwarming story of Welcome Week at the College. Though Welcome Week was an action-packed, highly-anticipated couple of days, it proved to be far from easy.

My Welcome Week began in Wolfe Hall. Holding my container full of paper towels and granola bars, I looked up at my new home, not fully digesting what was in store for me. The move-in was easy, if your idea of “easy” is dragging furniture across a tiny, sweltering rectangle of a room with 10 people in your way and fussing with hanging strips because “that picture of my cat must go up.”

When the time came, my Community Adviser dragged my away from me, even though I grappled onto my mom for dear life and whimpered, “I love you. I’m going to miss you so much. I’ll see you soon,” as she pulled away and walked toward the elevator through the crowd. That moment was when it hit me. My whole body hurt from the sudden realization that I was now completely alone. This was really happening.

But then, I remembered something. My dad has a famous quote he always offers when I’m overwhelmed, which is, “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” Though it was kind of strange, I found some comfort in it. I could do this. I’ll do it one bite at a time.

The week pressed on and everything seemed to be coming up roses, until Sunday rolled around. I was watching TV from my bed when I glanced over at the two strands of pictures hanging from my shelves. The nostalgia became so potent that I couldn’t ignore it. These were the best photos of my family and friends in some of our happiest, brightest moments together. Now, I wasn’t with any of them and did not know when I could experience great moments with them again. How do I come to terms with that? How am I going to be OK?

I called my mom because talking to her is the best relief when I’m panicking. She reminded me that I have so much to look forward to, and to remember what I was here at the College to do — follow my dreams, be successful and live larger and fuller than I ever could have back in my hometown. Her words made me feel all right again. Welcome Week surprised me, enraged me, enlightened me and emotionally tried me all at once. But in this one week, I began to tap into true college. Some of it is glamorous, like any outsider would envision college to be like — late night walks around the twinkling campus, all you can eat whenever you feel like eating it in Eickhoff Hall and making new friends every time you turn around. With that, though, comes the utterly un-glamorous — sharing one bathroom with 30 other girls, awkward first introductions and, the lack of cool, breathable air in Wolfe Hall, where I currently and modestly reside.

As most things in life, Welcome Week had its highs and its lows, but it taught me so much more about myself, how to make the best of things and to eat the elephant one bite at a time.