Rewind four years ago: I was a high school senior who had no clue where he would end up. A high school senior with big dreams and lots of plans, but no means of executing those plans. I was about to make one of the most important decisions in my life by choosing Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa.
I cannot believe my last semester at Arcadia is here. These four years have been a roller coaster for me. But despite the ups and the downs, I have had an amazing experience. Here are a few candid reflections on what I’ve learned—from gaining independence, to studying away from home, to changing majors, to meeting new people, and now, finally, feeling comfortable with the path I see for my near future.
1. Rarely in life does anything go as planned.
I came to Arcadia as a Biology/Pre-Physical Therapy major. I went from Biology to Psychology, Psychology to Healthcare Administration—that’s where I found happiness. I picked up a Psychology minor, and am taking classes to apply to Occupational Therapy schools. I have made so many changes to my plan that I am going to graduate with well beyond the minimum 128 credits Arcadia requires. Had my entire collegiate experience gone as planned, I would have turned out a lot different. While I do agree that organizing and establishing routines can be helpful, sometimes not having a plan is the best plan of all.
2. Having a good roommate is actually a pretty big deal.
I have had a lot of different roommates at Arcadia—some amazing, some not-so-good. I’ve had roommates who left plates of food on the kitchen table for days, roommates who refused to do their laundry, and roommates with questionable hygiene. I won’t sugarcoat it: There were situations when I felt downright disrespected.
On the flipside, I’ve also had roommates who made me breakfast in bed when I was sick. Roommates who threw me a surprise birthday party. Roommates who hand-washed and dried their dishes and put them back in their appropriate locations. From living with many different people, I’ve learned more about who I am (clean and particular) and discovered the type of person I cannot live with (dirty, disorganized, lazy). If you like tidiness, watching movies before bed, and don’t mind waking up to the sight of a 5×8 Australian flag hanging above your head, I’m probably the roommate for you.
Each of my roommate experiences allowed me to grow and learn. I truly believe that you never lose if you learn.
3. You have to work for what you want.
Obviously each major is different, but the majority of Arcadia’s classes will require you to put a lot of effort into them. You likely won’t love every minute of it, but as you learn how to manage time and study properly, things will get a lot easier.
4. Making connections is sometimes more important than getting perfect grades.
Getting involved at Arcadia actually made my life a whole lot easier, despite taking on more responsibilities. The more friends I made, the easier it was for me to network my way through college. By joining clubs, I met people who shared similar interests. By becoming an orientation leader, I learned what it was like to lead a group of peers and delegate responsibility. By connecting with professors, I became more comfortable with speaking up when I didn’t understand something, and they learned my name, offered their support, and worked with me to better my chances of succeeding in class.
5. Arcadia wants you to see the world.
We are ranked first in study abroad participation for a reason. I was fortunate enough to study abroad twice. Being a FYSAE student at the University of Stirling in Scotland was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I grew as a person.
After FYSAE, I took part in a GFS course to South Africa, then studied abroad at Bond University in Australia. My last adventure with Arcadia takes place this May, when I’ll travel to Peru in South America. Arcadia has helped me see so many places I never would have imagined visiting in my wildest dreams!
6. Take advantage of being near a big city.
Philadelphia is a wonderful city full of awesome things to do. Whether you’ve lived here your whole life or have never been before, there is something for everyone to discover and enjoy. When I first came to Arcadia, I had only been to Philly once. Now, I try to go into the city as much as I can. Glenside Station is within walking distance from campus, and having that opportunity to explore whenever I want is really awesome.
7. You can be anything or anyone you want to be.
Arcadia is a very accommodating and progressive university located near one of the most progressive cities in America. Our Office of Institutional Diversity works hard to ensure expressions of hate based on religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender will not be tolerated. Our Civility Flag represents us as a community, so when someone within our community is not treated fairly, the flag is lowered. We, as a community, really respect each other, and that shows in how Arcadia respects us.
These past four years flew by. I will forever be grateful for everything that Arcadia has given me, how it tested me, and how it allowed me to grow into the person I am proud to be today. Cheers to you, Arcadia U!