Harder Than I Expected

“My first year experience wasn’t very welcoming, and I never really got that initial ‘belonging’ feeling.”

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Transcript for Harder Than I Expected

I came in as a sophomore transfer student and as a commuter, so I missed the whole living in the dorm as a freshmen-socializing thing. And I missed the whole freshmen year you take your CORE and your general classes, and so that’s when you really meet people too. So I missed all that and I came straight into my education classes where everyone knew everybody, and I (for about a good month and a half) went home crying a lot. They force you to talk to people and it was very hard to discuss with people because these two would pair up, these two would pair up, and then I’d be sitting there having to talk the professor because I didn’t know anybody. In my math class it was very hard, and I think we got our homework grades back one day and I turned to the girl next to me and I was like “Can we do homework together next time because I can’t do this anymore?” I mean, everyone failed the first assignment, it was awful, and she’s still my best friend now from school. And I mean she was like “Yeah,” and we did homework everyday together. But it just took me opening up and asking that.

I mean, for the longest time I knew coming to Valpo it was going to be hard after my experience with high school–being comfortable for so long. It was a lot harder than I expected. My mom works here, so I get tuition remission. And I…I’ll tell anybody I pay the general fees to come here and that’s it. I don’t have any loans. After a while I learned not to say that as much. People would be like “Oh, you don’t pay to come here? You shouldn’t even be in the classes.” And it’s like, “I got the grades and got accepted to come here, so why does that matter where my finances come?” I guess I would kind of be frustrated too if I was putting up so many loans and so much money, and then there’s people who didn’t have to, and were sitting in the same classes getting the same degree. I don’t know if I’d take it out on them or really be frustrated, but I just think that’s how it works. It’s just…you work here you get tuition; that’s the benefit of working here.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve ever felt …that I really belonged at Valpo. I mean, I know this is my school and this is where I go to school. I like bringing my boyfriend here or my sisters here and being like “This is where I go to class. This is what I do.” But I mean just because my first year experience, it wasn’t very welcoming and I never really got that initial belonging feeling. I think that I could have made myself belong if I really tried. But I never really did. I kind of did my own thing unfortunately. I don’t think there has ever been a time where I didn’t feel welcomed here on purpose, or like somebody said something or did something that I was like “Why am I here?”–other than the people, like, who knew I had tuition remission and were like “You don’t deserve to go here; you’re not paying for it.” Which is kind of ridiculous because a lot of people have scholarships, and they work to get those scholarships. Like I have tuition remission but since I transferred in I got a transfer scholarship. But like, nobody knows that. It’s just ridiculous to be like…”Well, I didn’t pay the full amount to come here so I shouldn’t have this education.” I just find it as a blessing that my mom got to work here and I can graduate loan free.