Final Semester Reflections
“Ithaca? But it’s so cold!”
I’ve heard that countless times since I chose to attend Ithaca College. Even earlier, in fact: A classmate in my high school senior year journalism class asked me if I knew Ithaca’s four seasons. When I didn’t get the joke, he laughed and told me: rain, sleet, hail, and snow. All kidding aside, it’s true that Ithaca is cold. Now that I’ve been here eight semesters we say Ithaca actually has two seasons (winter and summer), but there’s a lot more to note about this town than its climate.
A Southern California girl, I made the 3,000 mile journey from Los Angeles to Ithaca as an eager college freshman ready to shed the beach-bum lifestyle I had adopted in my adopted home state. I didn’t really know what to expect from Ithaca College, or any institution of higher learning for that matter. All I knew was that I was ready for a change. And four years later, I couldn’t be more pleased with my choice.
At 18, I was looking to discard aspects of my high school identity that made me painfully uncomfortable. My family had moved across the country from the East before my sophomore year of high school, and I was subsequently labeled the “new girl” in a large, overcrowded school. Looking to fit in and find acceptance, and with my social circle ruling my life, I had little time to develop an independent identity or hone my academic talents.
One thing I always knew about myself was that I loved to write. Since elementary school I’d had a voracious desire to create characters and stories that would entertain readers. In my California high school my love of writing took shape when I became the news editor of the monthly school paper, the Calabasas Courier. With a byline, I was no longer just the new girl, but a writer with something unique to say.
So I began my college career knowing that I wanted to nurture my passion for writing, and also made the fresh start I needed so desperately. I made a group of friends and slowly began to know the ins and outs of Ithaca College and the greater Ithaca community. I learned where to shop, where to eat, and where to go on a Saturday night. The all-night study sessions, the snowball fights, the weekly trips to Wegmans all became a part of my life. Each year I began to feel a little more comfortable in my own skin and a little surer of the type of student, friend, and daughter I wanted to be. I worked very hard to reach my academic potential and stepped outside my comfort zone to study abroad in London for a semester.
I can’t put my finger on the precise time when my transformation from child into adult actually happened. But sometime, somehow it did.
I find it difficult to believe that I will soon be leaving Ithaca to start the next chapter of my life. It’s funny that I’ve spent so much time these past four years worrying about tests and papers and petty dramas with friends. I recently took a trip to New York City to meet with magazine and publishing companies about job opportunities. I put on a business suit and high heels, and surprisingly I didn’t feel like a kid playing dress-up in a grown-up’s clothes. I was confident and so unlike the insecure teenager who’d first walked onto this campus four years ago. And even now on these long, late winter days when I am cooped up in my bedroom, longing for sunshine, I know that someday soon I will be nostalgic for this place. Soon I will miss my adopted hometown. Soon, I will miss my Ithaca.
Alex Meril graduated cum laude in May with a bachelor of arts degree in writing. She was an ICView editorial intern during her final semester. She is now working in Washington, D.C., for Eagle Publishing, a publisher of conservative books and periodicals, and is freelancing for ICView.