The Freshman Experience: Always Together, Never Alone

I am never alone in college. Sure, I have the elevator to myself occasionally and sometimes my roommate is at class when I’m not, but usually there is always someone else nearby. This is drastically different from my high school experience.
Of course I would spend every high school moment from that morning bell—which seemed to ring earlier and earlier as my senior year wore on—to the final bell with my friends by my side. I was part of a bunch of different groups, all of which met after or before school and surrounded me with people. But at home, I had solitude.
With both my parents working and my brother off at college, I spent many nights doing homework, watching bad television and heating up leftovers all by myself. Some may think that would be lonely, but I really liked the peace and quiet.
It’s never quiet here. And sometimes I like it; with all the commotion, I haven’t had time to get homesick or have a culture shock freak out. There’s a feeling of community when I walk around campus and see someone I know or when I strike up a conversation with a stranger in the dining hall. Yet every once in awhile I realize… I never have a moment to myself.
I don’t sing anymore. No, I wasn’t a good singer, but I used to belt out lyrics while driving to school or doing some late-night studying with the radio on, my iPod providing a soundtrack for every occasion. Now, even when I’m sitting alone in my dorm room, I know anyone can walk by and hear me. When I’m walking alone around campus I know there is probably a person around the corner. And when I study in the library, I have to stop every three minutes to talk to a person who saw me and wanted to say hello.
In some ways I love that there are people always wanting to say hello. I’ve never been so friendly to so many people before, and I think some of them will actually become life-long friends, not just Orientation-buddies. But I also love the sound of silence, and there is precious little of that in college. Someone is always chatting loudly on her phone or blasting bad rap music from her car or playing the piano in the common room. Endless chatter, the bass of a car stereo and the notes of a musical instrument: this is my new soundtrack.
And soon I will learn to sing along with it, but for now I will start with just a tap of a foot, and maybe a hello in the library.
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