Summer has barely begun and I’m already missing Rochester. I miss my friends, I miss my campus, I miss my classes, and I miss my independence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been wonderful to be back home—getting to spend time with my family and friends, eating home-cooked food, and enjoying the beautiful landscape of rural Central Oregon. Nevertheless, I’ve got more free time than I know what to do with and my mind keeps drifting back to Rochester, to all the wonderful experiences I had freshman year and all the things I’m excited about for sophomore year.
I’m starting to get flashbacks to last summer. Like most high school seniors headed to their dream school, from the day I sent in my enrollment deposit, I couldn’t wait to begin college. Senioritis kicked in like never before as I did my best to “finish strong.” But graduation brought little relief. I no longer had the distraction of school and homework to keep my mind off Rochester, and so began a summer of torturous anticipation and excitement. I spent three months learning anything and everything about my future school. I was constantly on Rochester’s website and the Class of 2017 Facebook page, counting down the days until move-in. I thought that level of impatience was a one-time thing. Surely college would lose its luster after a year and summer would be a relaxing break from college life. I was wrong.
To be honest, summer break has never really been my thing. I like to be busy, and while I always manage to find something to do during the summer months, it’s never nearly as stimulating as my “normal life.” During this past school year, every minute was filled with something—class, studying, attending events, going places with friends . . . it was exhilarating. Leaving the fullness of college life to be abruptly thrust into days with little on the agenda besides taking my dog for a walk and helping cook dinner has been a difficult adjustment to say the least.
It’s not that I sit around and do nothing all day. I finally have time to exercise and have been running and hiking as much as possible. Now that I don’t have homework, I can read for fun again, which is rather exciting. I’ve also been sleeping at least two hours more a night than I did during the school year. But as ridiculous as it sounds, after just over a week of relaxing, I’m ready to be busy again. I’m craving college in a way completely different that last summer. Before freshman year, my excitement was based on expectation, on things I’d read online or heard about on campus visits. But now I know what life is like at Rochester, I know how much I love it.
My freshman year was more than I could have hoped for. Of course, there were a few struggles along the way, but there were infinitely more good times than bad, way more happy memories and exciting experiences than troubles and frustrations. But as great as freshman year was, I’m certain sophomore year will only be better. I’m living in a suite with five amazing friends, I can’t wait for my new classes, and I’m even planning on exploring activities I didn’t get a chance to squeeze in this year. But best of all, I’ll know what I’m doing. I know my way around campus, I know how to handle college classes, I have a large friend group, and I’m used to all the quirks of life as a Rochester student. I have a lot to look forward to, and waiting three months before getting back to college will probably be just as hard as waiting three months before starting.
I have a game plan, however. It’s important to use college summers to your advantage and I don’t by any means plan to sit around and pine for Rochester (no matter how much I miss it). Some college students spend their summers working to pay off school loans, others secure internships or research positions to build their résumés. As someone who still doesn’t know what they want to be when they grow up, I plan to use this summer to get some real-world experience doing any work related to my majors that I can find. I’ll be writing at least a few stories for my local newspaper but I’m also working on finding other relevant job/internship/volunteer opportunities.
Spending the summer in a small town nowhere close to a big city can be both a blessing and a curse. While there isn’t a huge range of work options (particularly for someone interested in anthropology and international journalism), there’s a better chance of securing work at the places that are available. Things are less formal in small towns, there is less competition for positions from other students, and when it’s the place you’ve lived your entire life, there’s also a pretty good chance you have some sort of connection to every business in town. Now all I have to do is to write a few emails, make a few phone calls, and wait to hear back from employers while I try to keep my mind off college.
I’m determined to make this summer a productive one—one I can look back on as at least well spent if not without eagerness for the fall. There’s a reason I love (and miss) my school as much as I do, but the whole point of going to college is to prepare me for life after. I suppose this summer will be good practice for the day I’ll really have to tell Rochester goodbye. Plus, like I said, it definitely is nice to be back with my family and friends, back in the town I know every inch of, where I get to drive my car and see our beautiful mountains every time I step outside. I’ve missed this place too.