I’m Going On An Adventure!

adventureIn a beautiful September of 2009, I stood in front of Clark, my freshman dorm building, for the first time of my life. It was my first time living away from home, and I felt exuberant for my new semester. As I was staring at fellow new students coming in and out of the dorm building, I just couldn’t wait to start living here. This was also the exact moment the first real problem hit me: how to move all my luggage into my room. I had two large suitcases and a huge backpack. Luckily, I was assigned on the first floor, just by the staircases, and a few upper classmen helped me settle in. It was a real pain moving everything in and taken everything out in my room. I was forced, yet gratefully, to learn my first lesson of traveling alone: never pack more than needed. Later, I learned from my upper classmen, that the campus had tag sales every semester. Most of the non-essential or essential items can be found at those. As the freshman class comes in, the senior class graduates, and people love to recycle. I got two lamps (in perfect condition), a mirror, a dozen hangers, and a laundry basket, almost for free. They have served me loyally during my college years, and have been passed down to my lower classmen. In short, just pack the essentials, and the rest can come later.

The other things I realized after moving to Wesleyan were that I was expected to be more independent and take on a lot more responsibilities than I’d ever imagined. Of course, the first thing that jumped into my mind was “Freedom!” The first semester of college was like a door suddenly swung open, and waves of thrilling things kept washing me over. To keep myself standing in the tides, I would need a lot more skills, such as self-control, time management, etc. After many years of learning, I gradually acquired these skills.

There were so many “first-time-experiences” waiting for me in my freshman year. I used a clothes dryer and the campus ID card paying system for the first time. I had to figure it out with a hallmate. I still remember the two of us standing awkwardly in front of the laundry machine, trying to figure out the difference between the bottoms of “regular” and “bright color”. I had a roommate for the first time. The residential life had us sign a roommate agreement. It seemed silly when we sat down to read over the agreement, but it made sense afterwards. We learned from each other, learned to share, and grew together. It was a great time.

Moving away from home for college was a big step outside my comfort zone, but the magic did happen. The new environment tested my limit. This was a great opportunity to discover myself, to build new bonds, to broaden my horizons and to challenge my belief. I learned to use different perspectives to view things and make decisions. “Independence” and “responsibility” were not merely elusive concepts anymore. They gradually grew flesh and bones, became my concrete reality. I may have been far away from home, but I formed new roots, and learned to extend them further. That was a priceless adventure for starters, and I am still traveling.

Shu Zhang, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13