After all these years, I’m still so excited to teach first semester freshmen. There’s this sense of overwhelming possibility, of a fresh start, of crafting an adult life, and of hope.
Can you remember your freshman year of college and that first classroom with that first professor? Can you remember wondering if you could really do this? That first night in your dorm room bed you looked up at the ceiling and thought, “I’m really here. Nothing will ever be the same back home again.”
That night at the University of Virginia in the fall of 1993, I had as much happiness and joy as I had fear and a sense of being lost at sea. (They are not freshman at UVa; they are first years.)
I found my way. Every day, I knew this new me more and more, and I gradually adapted. It was little things that made all the difference: having someone to sit with in the dining hall, seeing a familiar face in a large lecture hall, and having an instructor know my name.
So I am already memorizing their names. I’m on the other side now, but I remember exactly what it felt like to walk in that college classroom and hear things that professors said that shaped my adult life. On my bookshelf beside me as I write, I keep my freshmen textbooks right here. My Norton Anthologies have my writing all throughout them in the margins.
And I have the journal I kept that freshman year where I know–through poems and letters and quotes and snippets of wisdom–all the angst and wonder and love and fear that make up that freshman year.
So when I walk past the groups of them, I remember myself back then.
I’m so excited to meet them.