After 4 Years, Looking Back on My Arcadia Experience
In the weeks leading up to my first day of college, my parents told me, “The next four years of your life will go by in a blink of an eye, so enjoy it.” After four of the most challenging and exciting years of my life, I can finally say this statement is as true as it comes. It may sound cliche to say, but I can remember the excitement of getting my room key to Knight Hall, Room 305-D. Not long after I hugged my parents goodbye, I began to meet friends that would have a greater impact on my life than anyone before. For the next four years, I would be sharing the happiest, saddest, and sometimes even the most boring moments of my life with them.
My first year at Arcadia was filled with new experiences and breaking old habits. I was learning to be more of an adult and I made many mistakes along the way. I like to think of freshman year as the time to find who you are, find what you enjoy, and what path you might want to follow in life.
In high school, I wasn’t the best student. I slacked off, not doing my homework most of the time, and was content studying the same day as the test. These were things I wanted to change. It wasn’t something I was proud of or wanted in my future. Starting college gave me the opportunity to create a new name for myself, almost like a rebranding. From the first day, I was in the library studying for exams that were weeks away. This new attitude I adopted made me get called a nerd by my friends. I was so excited about their joke, too, because it meant I was succeeding with my goals.
My first year was sadly cut short by COVID, but I experienced a new state, city, friends, and attitude. My freshman year taught me what working hard meant and showed me that working hard doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. After four years of school, I have never missed a weekend out with my friends because of schoolwork.
My sophomore year was the year of COVID, but I like to think of it as the year I learned what real self-control is. All of my classes were held over Zoom the entire year. During this time, I lived in a house down the street from the university with four of my friends. We had no lacrosse, no clubs, or meetings to attend. The only thing we had was our online classes.
Living in a place that is also supposed to be your academic environment proved to be more difficult than it sounds. While taking courses on Zoom, it was tempting to click off the screen to do something else, turn off my camera to go talk to my friends, and even not show up to class. This is something that most people can relate to during this time. However, I decided to take a loaded schedule with classes like organic chemistry, genetics, and comparative anatomy. The attitude of success I exhibited in my freshman year was harder to maintain during this time, but I believe it was a test of self-control.
During this time period, I actually had some of the most memorable experiences of my college career. The simplest things like cliff jumping in the Wissahickon River, sledding during snow storms, and even hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I have to admit right away, this was one of the most stressful years academically. I just came back from a summer of working two jobs seven days a week. I was burned out from the summer but had to make it through the academic year. I was taking more medical-based classes for graduate school, like human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry. On top of that, I had to fill out my applications for Physician Assistant programs.
One of the biggest things I learned during this time was how to set priorities to achieve the goals I had set forth. From freshman year, I maintained a new attitude of being a “nerd” in hopes of becoming a Physician Assistant and this year I had to make big decisions to prioritize my dreams and goals. One of the biggest things I sacrificed was my collegiate athletic career on the men’s lacrosse team. The time I was spending between working, school, and sports made me tired and drained, especially coming off a full summer of working over 70 hours a week. I needed a mental break to prioritize myself and focus on the next chapter of my life. Leaving the team wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I knew I had to. Looking back on that decision over a year later, I am extremely happy with how I prioritized myself.
Although I am not done with my senior year yet, I look back at my freshman self and see how much I have changed. I have learned more about myself as a person and as an academic, but, most importantly I am happy with the decisions I made to get me here.
After applying to multiple universities for graduate school and receiving acceptance and interviews from Butler, Stanford, and Midwestern, I have made the decision to stay at Arcadia University for the next two years. Arcadia has shown me what a small community of amazing people can do for you and I cannot imagine another school coming close to what I have experienced here.
In my final semester, I have taken the opportunity to relax more than I usually would have and to enjoy more time with my friends and family. This last semester has truly opened my eyes to the opportunities and people Arcadia has to offer. I am truly thankful for all the people who have supported me throughout my college career, especially my friends and family and the faculty and staff here. Arcadia will always be a second home for me.