By Dalton Carver
I’ve never been the new kid. I’ve never been the face that’s been unrecognizable, the smile that’s not returned right away. I’ve never been to a place where I knew absolutely no one. Despite being in Kansas, Winfield was a complete desert in my all too familiar life.
I went to the same school district my entire life. It wasn’t a small school, but it wasn’t big either. My graduating class was around 100 students, and I knew each and every one of them. Most of my peers elected to go to colleges that contained familiar faces, such as Kansas State or the University of Kansas. After all, my high school was conveniently located between the capitol city of Topeka and the college town of Lawrence. With options so close, why change what you’ve known all your life?
To be honest, I needed space from my hometown. I was offered the opportunity to play soccer at the college level, a desire that I’ve had for some time, so I decided to take a look at Southwestern. I took the tour, talked with the coaches and some of the upperclassmen and decided that this place could be a good fit for me. This last summer, I didn’t even think about how I would be starting completely over. I was going to be shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, if you will.
The thought hit me when my roommate assignment arrived in the mail. It was a completely new face, from a completely different area. I had no idea what to expect. I had seen him on Facebook, but we all know how reliable that resource can be. Texting wasn’t the best indicator of what kind of person he was either. I admit it, I was nervous to meet him, to journey from my familiar friends. I was nervous to go to college.
As the weeks passed, I found I made the best connections to people when it was completely spontaneous and organic. Situations such as a simple question from a classmate or picking up a notebook that someone dropped. I also found that by telling about myself and asking about others, conversations were instantly ignited. If coming here alone has done anything, it has taught me how to meet people and make new friends. I think, although I hid it from myself, that was my goal all along. Although it may have started out a bit rough, coming out of my comfort zone taught me to reach out for things I would never have gained if I was surrounded by familiarity.
Fast forward to today. I’m bonded to the soccer team, I’m bonded to my roommate, and I’ve even gotten close to a few individuals outside of those zones. I’ve finally settled into a niche here. It’s not a deep one and it’s not one that I slide into easily, at least not yet. However, the blank faces I walked by when I first arrived here are no longer so. Smiles are easily returned when you realize that you’re in the same position as someone else.
Dalton Carver is a freshman majoring in communication. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put In Perspective
Alex Ellsaesser, biology freshman
When I decided to come here, I knew I wouldn’t know anyone. That was my plan. I love meeting new people and making new friends, which is exactly the goal of Builder Camp. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my high school, but after thirteen years with the same people, it was time for a change. So coming here not knowing anyone, I felt a sense of starting over, a sense of excitement, and that I realized I had the chance to show people who I really am in a place where my high school label doesn’t matter anymore.
Briar Steward, marine biology freshman
Before I came to Southwestern I knew a couple of people from middle school or high school so it was nice to be able to talk to them comfortably and not feel awkward trying to introduce myself to people. I talked to my roommate once or twice before coming but hadn’t actually met him in person, so that also helped to know that it wasn’t going to be really awkward when we first started moving in.