Freshman Year

Click to hear "The Freshman" by the Verve Pipe

I nearly failed my first exam in Physics that fall.

My physics class was a huge lecture class that was held in an auditorium in Olds Hall.  I walked in there with Joe and Karen (who had similar schedules to me due to our matching majors) and couldn’t believe it.  I knew this was common at larger universities, but still.  We chose seats up near the top (as I always did in church too, anonymously in the back) and opened our notebooks.  Back then there weren’t laptops and no one we knew even bothered recording lectures.

Which wouldn’t have mattered much; I understood about every third word my instructor had to say.

I didn’t like things I wasn’t good at.  I was used to working hard and applying myself and figuring things out.  But midway through the term, I was still slogging through the lectures and labs, and reading the voluminous textbook more than once trying to understand the concepts.  I remember none, because I understood very few.  I had the prickly, terrible feeling that I was going to do poorly in this course, which was something I never considered.  I knew people often floundered their first year in college, but not valedictorians.  Not me.

To make matters worse in my ultra competitive head, Joe DID get the material.  This bothered me immensely.  I was used to being the best, and it wasn’t something I took easily to have him doing better than me in the course.  Further, he’d taken Honors English while I’d punted into standard Freshman English.  One class in and I knew I’d made a terrible mistake and should have taken Honors with him.  They were teaching Advanced composition, things that Mr. V. had taught me (and taught me better) last year.

Overall, I wasn’t enjoying my freshman year nearly as much as I thought I would.  I knew it would be hard, but I was harder on myself when I didn’t naturally rise to the top of the pack.    I should be happy; Joe was still by my side, putting up with my crazy; I had great roommates and had met a few other nice people in classes;  I was lucky enough to be here in the first place.

I swallowed deep and promised myself to buck up.

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