February 27, 2014
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that my college years are going to be the best four years of my life. Although I have loved and enjoyed (almost) every second of my Hamilton experience, I dislike the pressure that this idea puts on students.
Let’s be real, telling students that their life is going to go downhill from the moment they graduate isn’t the best way to make them look forward to their future. College (and life, as a matter of fact) is what you make of it, and each person’s experience is unique. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that college years are among the most important periods in a person’s life.
Naturally, people have different answers to what makes college so special. Some would say it’s the newly discovered sense of freedom, while others would argue that it’s the exposure to different and exciting experiences. While I agree with both of these views, only this year did I find my own answer to this question.
For me, the beauty of college is the personal growth that one experiences throughout these four years. We students rarely take time to step back from all the homework, essays, office hours, projects and parties, and acknowledge how much we have changed from the moment we stepped on the Hill. I know I have changed.
Before I came to Hamilton, my parents were worried whether I’d able to arrive on the Hill safely and not get lost somewhere along the way (a good sense of direction was never one of my strongest suits). This winter break, though, I traveled to Sarajevo, Amsterdam and Istanbul, all on my own, and although I was stuck at the Istanbul airport for more than two days due to terrible weather conditions, I arrived home safe and sound.
Less than two years ago I was scared that my English wasn’t good enough to live in America. Growing up in Bosnia, I had never studied nor lived in an English-speaking environment before. I would check a sentence millions of times in my head to make sure it was grammatically correct before having the courage to raise my hand and share my opinion.
After I received my first A on an essay in a government class and became a co-president of the Model EU club, which focuses on public speaking, I realized how silly my worries were. I remember the long Skype conversations with my parents the first time I felt homesick and the slight disappointment I felt after realizing that, instead of dresses and formal shirts, I should have focused on bringing leggings and warm sweaters. Here at Hamilton, I’ve spent whole nights discussing ideas and sharing lifestories with my friends, and have learned the importance of finding balance between nights spent studying and nights spent dancing.
I also realized the beauty of showing and staying who you truly are inside. You might be stubborn, reserved, imaginative, nerdy, courageous, shy or outgoing; you might hate the show everyone else is crazy about, you might be the worst or the best dancer at the part—but as long as you do what your brain and heart tell you to, you are on the right path of becoming the person you are ultimately meant to become.
As with nearly everything, this is easier said than done, and finding yourself can be frustrating and challenging at times. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you every step of the way, who love you with all of your silly and potentially annoying habits and flaws, and who choose to grow with you.
Moreover, as Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet and a novelist, in his beautiful book Letters To a Young Poet wrote: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.”
This is my second year at Hamilton, and somewhere along the way I’ve changed, just like we all do. We keep on changing and developing every day, although we sometimes fail to realize it. We make new friends, face success and failure, fall in love and have our hearts broken, then heal and love again; we laugh until we start crying, we cry until our tears dry up. We fall and then we rise. But, we’re all in this together.
So keep breathing, keep loving and keep growing. After all, that's what life is all about.
“From Where I Sit” is a column dedicated to the international voices of Hamilton’s campus. If you are an international student and are interested in contributing a column, contact Hristina Mangelova (firstname.lastname@example.org).