Starting college is a milestone in many people’s lives, and it is exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. With the academic year having begun here at the University of the South, freshmen are embarking on a whole new chapter in their lives. They have moved from home to a new place they may have visited once or twice beforehand; they’re meeting new people from all over the United States and even the world while balancing a new schedule and classes that are constantly challenging them. However, every freshman has a different perspective on these circumstances and handles them differently.
Being a first-year student at the University of the South is exciting yet intimidating, as described by Glennis Sanchez Ogando (C ’27). “It can get scary sometimes,” she said. “But that’s just the way of growing up.” As a freshman myself, I can echo this sentiment. It gets scary sometimes being on your own in a new environment, but it is just a part of growing up, and there are ways to cope with the scariness. I find comfort in calling my parents and talking to them, while Ogando finds comfort in Sewanee’s nature. “The sky makes me feel protected because it’s so beautiful and peaceful,” she explained.
The nature surrounding Sewanee plays a large role in the University’s culture. Many activities here deal with the outdoors, such as hiking, swimming, canoeing, caving, and so on. Kyra Chung (C ’27) and Ogando both said their favorite aspect of the University is the nature around it. Chung finds it nice to just walk around campus, and Ogando finds the view here to be amazing.
However, with nature being all around the campus, it can make Sewanee feel isolated from the world, which Chung dislikes. “It [the isolation] makes it feel like partying is one of the only ‘fun’ activities here,” Chung said. Greek life and its parties also play a large role in the University’s culture. As mentioned by Chung, if you’re not a party person, it feels like you’re out of the loop. I tend to feel this way often since parties are not my thing, and they seem to be the only chance you have to socialize with others and make friends.
Since classes started, I have personally struggled to find opportunities to socialize with others since I’m busy with classes and their coursework, and my schedule differs from the people I have met so far, which makes it hard to find the perfect time to have lunch or dinner with people I’m familiar with. It can also feel difficult to fit in at Sewanee since everyone comes from different backgrounds. Chung explained, “I feel left out in the social scene as someone who came from the west coast. I feel as if some groups are inclusive, but others are incredibly exclusive.” Ogando echoes this sentiment but in a bit of a different sense. “I am a POC [person of color], and it can be daunting getting into the white scene. But there’s always someone for you, and the more time you spend with them, the more you understand that it’s going to be okay,” she explained.
It’s still a scary time for freshmen as we are still settling into Sewanee and becoming comfortable with everyone, but it feels right to be here. Chung and Ogando both say they feel as if they made the right decision in choosing Sewanee and coming here, and I can say I feel this sentiment as well. It is going to be a long journey, but it’s the right one.