Dodging the Bullet: My First Class
By John Zak, Contributing Writer
As I awoke to my alarm at 7:45 AM on Monday, August 28th, I knew this was it. My first day of college, I had no idea what to expect as I hopped out of my bed to attend my first class at 9 AM. I had showered, got dressed, made a cup of coffee in a Yeti cup, and walked to Weidensall Hall (which I made sure I knew the location of the previous day). I felt a mixture of excitement and uncertainty as I walked towards Weidensall, anticipating what would happen in my 20th Century World class. I was excited to begin my career as a Gettysburg College student and was looking forward to enriching my mind with the wealth of material I’d comprehend by the end of my time as a student.
I did, however, feel a sense of naiveté, as I really had little idea of what to expect once I walked through those imposing and historic doors of Weidensall. I walked up the stairs to the third floor and went into classroom 301. I took a notebook and pen out of my backpack and placed it on my desk, a move I figured would demonstrate to my first professor that I was eager to hit the ground running. I then began to wonder to myself if this class would possibly be too difficult for me; if I’d become disillusioned with my coursework and college as a whole. It helped that the class I was in was primarily made up of freshmen just like me, helping reassure myself that my classmates probably were thinking the same things I was. As those feelings of uncertainty began to sweep over me, my professor walked into my classroom. He introduced himself as Professor Hadley and said hello to the class. I was now excited for class to begin, as I would get a sense of what 20th Century
World was going to be like. Before my Professor started introducing the syllabus and getting into our first lecture. Professor Hadley let it be known that he himself was an alumnus of Gettysburg College. This was another sense of reassurance for me as I figured he must know the exact same feeling, for he himself took classes in the same rooms that I will. This allowed me to get a unique sense of the nature of Gettysburg College and reminded me of the reasons why Gettysburg was my top choice. The feeling of community and small group learning that made Gettysburg College so attractive to me, and what I figured drew my Professor to come back and teach here. When Professor Hadley got into the my very first college lecture, on the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, my interest in History came to serve me, as I suddenly found myself raising my hand and actively participating in the class discussion on the first day. As we began to go further in with the lecture, I began to feel more at ease with the flow of class and more confident in my ability to manage college and the intellectual rigors it entails. When the 50-minute mark of class ended and we were dismissed, I felt so much better about the upcoming semester and was looking forward to learning new things. I especially enjoyed learning in what was my first college class of 20th Century World. Just as I began to have doubts about my college prospects, I found myself pleasantly surprised.
Editor’s Note: This article is the eleventh of our series “Dodging the Bullet: The First Year Journal,” in which The Gettysburgian‘s staff members from the Class of 2021 share stories, reflections, and perspective on their first year experience. You can read the full series here. (BP)