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The Smiling Sophomore

This is going to be my best college year

In chorale at St. Michael’s College, ­Madeline Hughes, top right, “made friends over trips and dinners after rehearsals.”

    I return to college as a sophomore even more excited than last year, for my high hopes for my first year at Saint Mike’s were exceeded.
    Declaring to go to Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, propelled me from March to August. Closer to move-in day, however, doubt and fear crept in. Had I made the right decision? I had dreamed of going to school in a major city like New York or Boston. Now I was about to make a nine-hour journey to Vermont, where there are more cows than people.
    I could not have made a better choice. Even my mistakes taught me lessons on life.
    At first, I avoided my professors out of class. Soon I learned to avoid taco meat in the cafeteria instead of my professors. Some of my best memories include professors. Friends from my favorite 8:am class  (probably the last one I will ever take) and I saw our professors’ band play downtown. I made new friends in a professor’s office as he trapped us in conversation while we tried to cram for an exam.
    I learned not to give in to peer pressure by face-planting down a Vermont blue-square ski slope, a supposedly moderate hill. It was my first day out. I was with a bunch of New Englanders who skied the winter they learned to walk. My experience was limited to Mid-Atlantic hills. My second day out, I skied the beginners slope.
    I learned to make good friends. The first weeks were terrifying because my best friends from home, the people I counted on the most, were scattered around the world. Now I found countless ways to bond with new friends. My friend Jacqui’s habit of liking our friend group’s old Facebook photos exposed embarrassing periods in our lives, which in a weird way made us grow closer.
    I learned how to avoid the campus skunk that lives off the sidewalk connecting the cafeteria to the upper-classmen suites that I will be living in this year. He comes out at night, particularly when walking back after a long night of studying, so I will have to avoid this path to spare potentially being sprayed.
    I learned to get involved with clubs. I joined Saint Michael’s Chorale and the drama club. In chorale, I made amazing friends over trips and dinners after rehearsals. When an upperclassman made fun of us for taking photos for every occasion, scoffing at us as the silly freshmen girls, we knew she was envious. This year I plan to do more. I am joining the rugby team.
    I think this is going to be my best college year. I am not a first year, going in knowing nothing and no one. I am not a junior with friends studying abroad different semesters, meaning we’ll be apart all year. Nor am I a senior, with a thesis to write and a life to plan for after college. Sophomore year is going to be great.