Semester One

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On day one, I gave my parents a quick hug and waved goodbye as if I was leaving for the weekend. As I watched them walk away, I was tempted to run after them, hide in the trunk and go home. Instead, I distracted myself with what seemed like meaningless small talk questions like “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?”

Every time I said I was from New England, the 800 miles that separated me from all my family and friends seemed to grow more and more distant. Now deep into the first semester, when someone on campus asks where I am from I respond, “Second Belk!” which I now consider home with friends I feel like I’ve known for a lifetime. I will even regretfully admit that I gave more hugs leaving for a short four-day fall break than I did leaving home for seven weeks when coming to Davidson.

Living with so many people in tight quarters almost forces immediate friendships. Everyone’s schedules guarantee that at any given time, someone will be hanging out in the lounge, going to get food or going to the library to study at every hour of the day, so even if someone tried, it is impossible to avoid people when living in a dorm, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Friendships that started out with awkward small talk dinners turned into nail-painting dance parties, late night food runs and post-exam group naps.

Personally, the Myers-Briggs roommate survey was spot on for me and my roommate and I share very similar schedules and habits. Besides roommates though, the hall, building, class and community as a whole is a part of a close-knitted family that consists of the same makeup as a blood-related family. Even if it may seem that you have nothing in common with another student, at least you can bond over the amazing quesadillas at Davis Café during the late nights of studying.

On every college tour, including Davidson’s, the quality and compassion of the professors is emphasized. What is the purpose of going to school if you are not going to learn anything? However, at Davidson, that simple statement is anything but superficial, which I quickly learned on the third day of classes when I felt that I was in over my head in my Latin 201 course. I thought if it was too difficult—which I automatically assumed it would be—I would drop the course after the first few classes. After the second class, my professor sent me an email asking how I was doing and if anything was wrong because I looked overwhelmed (which was the biggest understatement of the century). I went to office hours the next day with the plan to drop the course. However, I left not only still enrolled in the course, but also feeling more confident in the material and my ability to understand Latin. Since then, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and have seen a dramatic improvement in my knowledge, confidence and academic strategies in all areas and subjects.

In my first semester at Davidson College, I have learned when to push more and question material in order to strive to understand content to its fullest, while also learning when to step back and reflect by either dancing to whoever’s Spotify playlist is on in the lounge or by simply talking to a friend until we both fall asleep on the floor watching Netflix.

In the past few months, which have felt like years, I have discovered a myriad of new things about myself, my friends and, of course, academics, and I still have a long way to go. Just the other day, I learned that, despite my avid searching, Alvarez College Union does not have a fourth floor! To the parents of the Class of 2020: Although we are still confused, first-year students, the support of faculty and bonds with friends means we may still be lost, but we are most certainly not alone.

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Andrea Shill ’20

Andrea is a first-year Davidson student from Barrington, Rhode Island.

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