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First-year Park Scholars share their experiences with the transition to collegiate life at IC
Monday, November 26, 2012
By Emily Masters '16
I was back in my hometown for fall break at the food store with my mom when it happened.
“When are you going to eat all those pretzels?” my mom asked. “We have plenty at the house.”
“I know. I’m going to eat them when I get home,” I said.
My mom cocked her head and looked at me. She said, “You are home. Oh… wait. Wow, that’s weird to hear you say. Ithaca is home to you now. That’s so strange. But… also so great.”
It is such a bizarre feeling, calling a place that isn’t your hometown home for the first time. I had called Ithaca home without even thinking about it. But the more I did think about it, the more I knew it was true, the more I liked the sound of it. Ithaca had, without a doubt, become my home.
After that, it just started rolling off the tongue. “I’ll meet you at home,” I said to my roommate. “No, I just got home,” I told my mom when she asked if I was still at the library. “Welcome to our home!” my roommate and I joked when a friend came over to hang out.
The five-hour bus ride back to New Jersey for Thanksgiving gave me time to consider how Ithaca had become home in just a matter of three months. The answer turned out to be simple: the people.
Living in the H.O.M.E. Program has given me the opportunity to bond with Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholars, international students, other Park Scholars, and everyone else in the dorm. Every time I see someone who lives in Terrace 3, I can expect a welcoming smile and wave. Our community was tight-knit from the start.
I have also branched out and made great friends who I met in class, at extracurricular meetings, at summer orientation, or during JumpStart. Having friends all over campus, with all kinds of interests, has allowed me to explore Ithaca and experience tons of new things.
I’ve also become friends with older students. I have a Big Sister through IC’s Honors Program. I always look forward to our Monday night dinners, where we catch up and eat delicious ice cream.
Plus, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the older scholars. I was told during finalist weekend that in this program you don’t just gain a free first-class education. You also gain another family. That couldn’t be more true.
I have felt so supported and welcomed by the older scholars. When I was going home to speak at a poetry festival, multiple scholars sought me out before I left to wish me good luck and after I returned to ask me how it went. I get dinner every week or so with the sophomore scholars, who are always hilarious. And every time I do some homework in the Park Scholar Center or go to a meeting for an activity, I end up catching up with a bunch of the older scholars, who always seem so happy to see me.
Having the opportunity to take part in so many activities has led me to meet so many incredible people. As I walk around campus, I begin to see familiar faces and all of them are smiling at me, welcoming me home.
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