I'm Baaack (or 'Return of the Freshman')  

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I took my last final of the semester on Tuesday and submitted my last philosophy paper (which was very interesting to write even though I was rather short on time), and that means that I am now done with my first semester at college. Yay! :] This calls for a celebration! My first semester at Stern flew by pretty quickly, and those few months were some of the best in my life. I took fascinating new subjects, met interesting people and made amazing friends, got involved with a number of clubs, and got barely any sleep during the week because there was always just so much to do! And now I get nearly three weeks to take a few deep breaths and rest before jumping into my second semester.

You know, I spent part of this past summer wishing it would pass by quicker so that I could finally be in Stern. I couldn't wait to start this new adventure and experience Stern, but sometimes I wondered how disappointed I would be if the reality didn't live up to my dreams. Reality is almost never as perfect as a dream, and it would be ridiculous to expect it. But the past few months really have been a dream, and I can't remember when I have been happier in my life. In Stern, I can be running on less than 3 hours of sleep a night and yet I will still walk down the street to college with a huge smile on my face and humming a song to myself, thanking G-d for being alive. I'm happy here.... Sure, I spend about two hours in total each day on the commute and I stay up late at night writing long papers and studying, but life's good. It's this indescribable floating feeling, almost as if I have wings and am soaring.

When I was registering for classes in August, I figured I would take it easy my first semester and get used to college first. So I only took 6 courses, thinking that would be enough at first. Well, I found that 6 courses left me with plenty of free time, especially since midterms hadn't started yet. So I went ahead and joined a few clubs and got involved with many extracurricular activities and found new ways of filling up my time. And because I like looking back, here is a breakdown of what I've been doing these past few months...

~ I took some very rewarding courses -- Samuel I, Intro to Talmud, Hebrew, Great Ideas of Philosophy, French, and Historiography. I don't think I ever worked as hard for any other class as I did for that last one. It involved extensive readings twice a week and four 6-page papers over the course of the semester. I would finish those papers close to 6:30 AM, when my father would be leaving for work. He felt bad for me that I was going to sleep so late, and I felt bad for him that he was waking up and going to work that early. The bottom line is that 6:30 AM is not a good time to be up, but we all do what we have to do. Let me just say that the A I got in historiography was the most hard-earned A of my life so far. It's actually good in a way -- I can be proud of myself for it because I feel as if I really deserve it.

~ I made friends with so many people from all over the world and I feel so blessed to have them in my life now. There used to be times in my life where I felt I couldn't share certain things with my friends just because our interests were so different and even though they might patiently listen because they were my friends and cared about me, they wouldn't fully understand where I'm coming from. Well, the student body at Stern is huge and there are girls from all different walks of life and I've already met some that have become such good friends to me. They make me feel so comfortable around them, and I feel I can trust them with anything. There are some girls who gladly invited me to stay with them when I wanted to spend Shabbat in Stern or had to be in the city late and needed a place to stay.

~ I started giving docent tours at the Yeshiva University Museum, which has also been a very rewarding experience so far. In order to give tours, I first had to study the exhibits and learn more about them, which was interesting and gave me an opportunity to learn so many new things.

~ I became a board member of the Creative Writing & Poetry Club in Stern. I was so excited when I heard that such a club even existed, because it is pretty much a dream come true for me. We had some awesome, fun events already and hopefully next semester will be awesome too.

~ I wrote my first article for Stern's official student newspaper, The Observer, and it was published in the December issue.

~ I learned of the existence of the Russian Club in Stern, which put such a huge smile on my face because I love bonding with fellow Russians. Actually, I have met so many Russian people in Stern with whom I felt an automatic connection. It's funny because in all other colleges, Jews automatically feel connected to the other Jews in their classes because they have something in common, while in Stern everyone is Jewish so you have to narrow it down a bit.

~ I went on a scavenger hunt with some other students at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although I've been to the museum many times over the past few years and know it almost inside out, that was a completely different experience and it was a lot of fun!

~ I spent Shabbat in Stern 4 times and loved it each time. Kabbalat Shabbat in Stern can be one of the most beautiful experiences ever. The only thing that took some adjusting to is the fact that I was walking around Manhattan on Shabbat. I kept thinking, "Hold on... but this is the place where I go to classes and go shopping and go to Broadway shows. And now I'm here on Shabbat? Odd..."

~ I took a YU shuttle for the first time in order to go up to Yeshiva University in Washington Heights to see the YCDS's production of The Andersonville Trial. The play was well-done and so incredibly intense. Walking back to the subway afterwards late at night and getting lost in Washington Heights was also intense, but in a different way. (I am not planning on repeating that experience.)

~ I joined the crew of the Stern College Dramatic Society's production of Pirates of Penzance as the props master... and, well, the go-to person whenever there is running to be done. I think one night during rehearsals I went to CVS three times in the course of two or three hours. By the end of the week, I was getting amused looks from the cashiers. (The look I got when I went to CVS twice within the course of half an hour was priceless.) Being a part of SCDS was the most awesome thing ever though. The people who were part of it were so welcoming and fun to work with, even though I was the freshman newbie and all. I was in awe of the incredible talent that girls possessed and it was inspiring to see their dedication and the work both the cast and the crew put into the show. Honestly, by the end of it all we felt like one big happy (sometimes dysfunctional) family, and I love it. We spent the Shabbat before the first performance together, which ranks among the most amazing ones in my life. And of course, with most of the people there being talented singers, you can imagine that the rendition of Eishet Chayil was the most beautiful one ever. But above all, I had such a good time just being with these girls (or, to follow Stern's language policy, women), smiling and laughing and singing, and getting to know everyone and finding people who are like my soul twins. I love my SCDS rockstars. :]

~ And last but certainly not least... I neglected my blog. Yes, I'm sorry. Two posts a month just isn't going to cut it. It's not that I have little to say -- there are a lot of things I'd like to write about and want to share, but I always seem to find other things that I need/want to do. I'm going to try to get myself back into blog-writing mode, so look for some more posts in the near future. :]

And for those who actually got through this whole long post and read everything -- I have to say, you are true friends. For those who can't get through all that, here is the CliffNotes version (and I'm sure you're still true friends, just very impatient or busy ones): I have spent a semester at Stern that might as well have come straight out of a movie and I love Stern and I love Stern students and I'm involved in a bunch of things in Stern and my life revolves around Stern. There. :]

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 6, 2011 at Thursday, January 06, 2011 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


It's so gratifying to hear another student extol the praises of Stern/YU. I'm glad things have been working out so well - and I hope they continue to be great.

One word of advice: it goes by FAST, much faster than you think. I speak as someone who spent 2 years in Israel and 4 on campus at YU and though I'm still around this year, I miss being in undergrad and already dread next year when I'm far, far way in another state.

Enjoy every single moment!

January 6, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Wow! What is the magic in Stern that I sense when I read your blog post? What is it?! (I kind of wish I could be there!)

January 9, 2011 at 12:24 AM

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