Dodging the Bullet: Impressions of the First Week of a First-Year
By Kaley Michael, Contributing Writer
One of my favorite quotes is “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.”
Usually, people respond to memes and say, “Omg, literally me,” but like, that quote is literally me. My proclivity for indecisiveness has been the bane of my existence — and my parents’. I am never able to decide what I want, when I want it, or how I am going to get it, and use eeny-meeny-miny-moe to make important choices. This method of decision-making did not bode well for my college decision process, which considered six schools across Pennsylvania.
There were a few qualities I was looking for in a college: small, well-ranked, and not a one-way track to a life full of debt. Gettysburg was the only college that met all the criteria. I toured the campus thrice before picking the college, but if there was one thing that made me choose this place, it was the cookies. Thus, I put in my deposit and packed up my bags a week ago for the start of my first year.
When I got to campus, I had no idea where I was. I knew I was in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but finding my dorm to get a room key was a feat in itself. I knew I had to acquaint myself with my new home, but it was disappointing to know that my previous tours had escaped my mind.
I have frequently visited the town of Gettysburg: Mr. G’s, The Pub, the store that only sells Irish items, etc. Albeit, my previous knowledge did not help me orient myself on campus.
Leaving my hall on the first day of classes was terrifying. I checked my schedule numerous times to make sure I had the correct buildings, room numbers, and times, keeping a screenshot of the campus map open at all times. I made it to my classes safely, opening the wrong door only once. That was an awkward time, but thankfully people understand that most of the first-years need help (on many levels).
After class, my go-to spot is Servo, and I see some interesting things along the way. Some people sit on the quad and play their instruments, whereas others stare at their phones and pray that people avoid running into them. Some couples argue with each other over whose dorm they’re going to, while some are rushing to class and push past you like you’re another college obstacle.
The average Gettysburgian is gracious. Once a boy stopped walking to ask me if I needed help getting to class, while another sat next to me in the library and talked to me about home. I enjoy walking around and talking to people about their outfit choices or where they are going to class. It’s nice to feel like I know them, even if reality says different. It’s also warming to see a familiar face at Servo or have someone offer you seat next to him/her without asking. Gettysburg students double as amazing friends.
I still haven’t mapped out the most efficient ways to get to and from class, often going out the wrong door or taking a path that leads me 18 feet in the opposite direction of where I’m needed. However, each misstep is an opportunity for learning. That one incorrect exit was a chance for me to see what was behind the building, and that one unnecessary path precipitated my discovery of a new club on campus.
My favorite experience was just last night when I walked — rather uncomfortably — to Lincoln Diner with my best college friend, Ana. We saw some sophomores walking too, boombox in a backpack, sans a care in the world. They were eager to talk to us, giving us first-year advice and telling us about their own lives on campus. It made the trek to the diner a nice sojourn from the chaos that can be first-year housing. Oh, and the chocolate chip pancakes at Lincoln were pretty good.
If there’s one thing I love about Gettysburg, it’s the people. Walking around is never lonely or boring when there are so many individuals willing to get to know you, and places that people want you to know.
Editor’s Note: This article is the seventh of the 2018 edition of our series “Dodging the Bullet: The First Year Journal,” in which The Gettysburgian‘s staff members from the Class of 2022 share stories, reflections, and perspective on their first year experience. You can read the full series here as well as 2017-18 stories here. (-B. Pontz)