Not a day goes by without learning something new. Transfer students know this all too well.
I was blessed to have transferred to Saint Vincent this past fall. But from dorm living and late-night study sessions, to monk sightings and homesickness, there’s a lot to get used to at SVC.
As we settle in for spring, I would like to share a few lessons I’ve learned for a successful, peaceful and exciting semester from one new student to another.
- Ask questions! It seems like a little thing, but it’s tough not to feel foolish asking questions all day long. But questions like, “How do I get food in the Shack,” and, “Are there any bathrooms in Alfred?” are important to ask! You can make life a lot easier for yourself by giving up a little pride, making friends with strangers and asking questions!
- Be understanding with yourself. Especially if you’re coming from another college where you knew the ropes, it’s easy to be hard on yourself for not knowing how to do something simple or for failing that quiz or feeling awkward in conversation, but really, it’s O.K.! It will be hard. It can be stressful. It might be lonely. But remember – you’re making a transition. Cut yourself some slack when you need it, take care of your body and your mind.
- Revel in the little things. Like knowing where all your classes are without checking your schedule or learning how to work the toaster. (Go ahead and laugh, but the cafeteria’s toaster is unlike any you’ve seen before.) It’s a beautiful thing to feel victorious once you’ve mastered the perfect lunch combo, or found the perfect route from the library to Sebastian’s Garden. There are lots of opportunities for simple moments of beauty or fun - stop by the practice rooms in the music hallway and mess around on the piano or just sit and people-watch in Carey. These aren’t big things, but they can add up to some priceless experiences.
- You are Benedictine. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, every student has a place at Saint Vincent to grow and learn and live within the Benedictine community. Saint Benedict’s Rule was designed to be universal, to move beyond monastery walls and impact the individual right where he or she is. This is something I’ve learned and come to love. Whether it’s the history of the monks, the spiritual hallmarks or the friendly brothers you encounter on a daily basis, there are so many benefits to going to school on monastery grounds. There’s an atmosphere here that is unlike any other, and you have a place here.
- Take your time finding your community. Anywhere you go, there will be tight groups particular to a certain interest. Ski club, Frisbee team or the entire biology major - every good school will have groups that will help you deepen your passions and skills. Saint Vincent is no exception. I’ve found that SVC has a strong bond of community influenced by the monastery next door. It might take a few weeks or even a full semester, but you will find a place. (Without sounding like a Hallmark card,) I encourage you to find a niche where you can be comfortable and truly thrive amid the unique personalities and beautiful people here at Saint Vincent College.
I still have so much to learn, but these five lessons were hard-won last semester and I am sure they will carry me through the next few weeks. Whether you’re a freshman or a transfer student, I hope you find your place here at SVC!