Small Town to Big Campus Life at College By Morgan Owen
College Life Abroad
By Morgan Owen
Written June 30, 2018
College housing can be… interesting. First, you move into the dorms and, oh man, is that an experience. Put three hundred nervous, hormonal, and “finally free” nineteen-year-olds together into one building and things are bound to happen. You know, things like being awakened at three in the morning because someone thought it was a good idea to pull the fire alarm and wake everyone up in the middle of the night, or like the bathroom being flooded because someone started to draw a bath but then completely forgot about it when their classmate asked if they were prepared for a quiz tomorrow that they had no idea about. Trust me, there are many interesting experiences that come with living in such cramped quarters.
But living in the dorms has its upsides are too, particularly when they involve getting ice cream from the dining hall - any time you want. Upsides can also include a built in social network, having your food already cooked for you, and a convenient living area right on campus.
Then, once you have blossomed enough to be fed up with living in a 30-square-foot box with one, or sometimes two, other people, you graduate to an apartment in the college town next to campus.
Much like the dorms, you will be cramped into tight quarters, but there is the added benefit of slightly increased privacy for your roommate to violate, a common living area for your housemates never to clean, and the oh-so-fun monthly pastime of paying for utilities that you had no idea you used so much. But seriously, living in your first college apartment is an experience that everyone tells their kids about.
Sure, you may have noisy neighbors, but that is all part of the charm. It may seem like a whirlwind or cascade of things you never knew you had to know, but finally living alone or with friends, without your parents doing everything for you, is a valuable growing experience everyone goes through. Plus, now you can get your very own mail delivered to your house!!! How cool is that!?
In my opinion, your first dorm, and your first apartment will occasionally seem like there are no upsides, but there is one key to living happily in any situation: your mindset. If you come into college thinking “I’m going to hate my roommate, my dorm is too crowded, everything is going to suck”, then guess what? It’s all going to suck. If you come in with the expectation that you can overcome all difficulties, and that all the things I’ve listed above are just trivialities that are bound to happen anywhere you live, then you will have a happy, though not entirely conflict-free, four years at University.
Nothing can replace or become a substitute for what you gain in these situations: life-long friends, learning how to take care of yourself, and learning how to just live away from home. It is all worth it because in the end, when you are determined and have the right mindset, you will have carved out a happy little place in this world that you can finally call your own.
Written May 7, 2018
By Morgan Owen
I’m coming to the end of my study abroad experience and I’m not quite sure how to feel. I’ve lived for almost a year on the other side of the world and made a new place my home, only to find out that I actually do have to leave in two weeks. On the one hand, I am ready to come back to my own culture and feel at home again in the state and place where I grew up, but on the other hand, I’m not ready to leave this new place that I have come to love.
I’ve decided that transitions are difficult and they bring a whole mix of feelings to the surface that one can only struggle with. Am I relieved to be coming home or am I reluctant to go? Did that year go by too quickly or did it go by too slowly? Am I ready for this next year, the year when I graduate, or am I going to crash and burn? Every single feeling that arises with a transitional period seems to come with its own contradicting pair.
You would think that I would have some advice for those of you that are transitioning into college, or transitioning into a new stage of their life, since I’ve gone through a few transitional periods myself… to college, to living on my own, to living in another country, to returning to the United States… but if I’m being honest, I have no idea what I’m doing and I bet none of you have any idea what you are doing either.
It sounds cliché, but the only thing I can do right now is let life happen. Do I have any idea what I’m doing when I come back to the U.S.? Not a darn clue. Do I have any idea what career path I’m going to choose and how I’m going to use the year I’ve spent learning Arabic? Nope! We are forced to move forward with our lives and the truth is, I have no choice but to get on that plane in two weeks, fly halfway across the world, and keep living my life, whether or not I make up my mind if I’m happy or sad about it. California, here I come.
Written April 12, 2018
No place like home
It is exhausting being in college, especially studying abroad. Put me up for any trial, drug, or product that lengthens the time we have in one day or even something that eliminates the need to sleep. Just today, I had class in the morning, drove an hour to go hiking, went to the Friday Market, spent some time with my host family, and wrote this column. I could sleep for well over twelve hours, yet tomorrow I have to send in summer internship applications and study for a test next week.
It always seems like one friend asks to go to the souk, one friend asks to go to a cafe and study, and at the same time I have classes, homework, and a family to spend time with.
What normal person has time for all that in one day!? Why am I always out doing something?
Because trust me, I’m no social butterfly. I cannot tell you how much effort it takes to finish your homework after a long day, rather than curling up in bed with Netflix.
Now add to all that taking care of your mental and physical health, and it becomes an absolute juggling act. One second studying because you are worried about grades, then going to the gym because you feel stressed, then the next second eating fast food because there’s no time to fix a meal because you went to the gym. It’s a spiral of work, play, self-care, and relationships, that seems to never end.
College life is constantly moving and changing; it is always up and down, and side to side. Classes change before you feel like you can process what you learned, and relationships can change just as quickly. But, the one thing that keeps me going through the exhaustion, is the thought that every couple of months I get one weekend without friends, without homework, and without commitment, to come home to Wrightwood, where all that stress and weariness instantly melts away.
Written March 6, 2018
Independence, and adulting
There are moments when everything stands still and I can hardly believe the life I am living. It started when I moved into the dorms and I couldn’t believe that I had enough independence in my life to choose when and what I wanted to eat for dinner. I would be walking along the lawn trying to decide which dining hall to go to and everything would slow down and it would feel like a younger me was looking in on my life without being able to conceptualize the fact of my independence. Then life would go on and, all of a sudden, I wouldn’t be able to believe I was taking amazing classes from brilliant professors about art history and globalization.
I thought these moments would fade as I became accustomed to living as an adult, but I still feel them as often as ever. Now, I live in an amazingly beautiful city, living the life of an American expatriate in Amman; I’m one year away from graduating, and I can hardly believe that life is moving so fast.
Sometimes it is the little things that trigger these moments. Maybe I can’t believe that I can go a whole day without speaking a word of English, or maybe I can’t believe I’m sitting in a cafe in Jordan. It seems as though we sit and wonder, ‘When will my life begin?’ so many times that we forget we are living it in the present. When will I get my dream job? When will I find my soulmate? When will I finally feel like an adult? We are all guilty of this. The moment when everything stands still and we realize that our life has already begun is the moment we realize we have been living all along.
Written January 10, 2018
Home for the Holidays
“Oh, heyyyy there Barbara… I see you got those braces removed since High School” “Hi, Mr. Brown… yeah, everything in college is just dandy” Coming home for the holidays is certainly… an experience. In a town as small as Wrightwood, it is hard not to run into someone you know. Right around the corner, a painfully awkward conversation with an old schoolmate could be lurking, or a surprise encounter with an old friend could bring back pleasant memories. It never fails that a trip to Jensen’s will take at least an hour, even if you are only stopping in for the barbeque dinner, because you ran into your High School History Teacher -- and you never know who you are going to run into at Mountain Hardware. Wrightwood is one of the best places to spend the Holidays, but for goodness sake, can I get some Eggnog without running into Sandy from the Quilt Guild?! Walking through town can seem like a cliché movie, as you avoid a person you don’t want to talk to at the post office, but subsequently stop into Cinnamon’s Bakery to get your usual breakfast sandwich and chat with the regulars. In all seriousness though, it is beautiful to drive through town to see the tree in the park lit up and all the local businesses decorated for the season, though never mind that the Streetlight Snowflakes will be up until the Fourth of July and the occasional house will leave its Christmas decorations up the entire year. Wrightwood has an unmistakable feeling of home, because it always will be home to those who grew up here. The pine trees, the people, the familiar layout of the town, all provide what is the essence of hominess. There is even a nicety to walking through town and always saying hello to someone or another that remembers when you were little, or was a part of your past. Wrightwood is one of the forgotten treasures of California, though it may not seem so forgotten once the snow players invade. . I hope all those who were home for the Holidays treasured every moment of it, like I did.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961