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The Carletonian

I still say “freshman” sometimes

Journey to CarlTalk

I got here last year, and had one of the best years of my life, and I mean that entirely sincerely. College here was everything I dreamed it to be and more, a lot more. So much more in fact that I have decided to make it everybody else’s problem by writing about it extensively. But freshman year for me felt like a slow march of progress, a linear graph that was on this predetermined course that I was just there for. My career paths were set, I knew what I was doing, the people I was friends with then would be my friends forever and ever, right? 

I was a freshman and I always would be. Until I wasn’t, anymore.

I’ve been on campus all summer. I worked for the Studio Art Department as an assistant in June, was a TA for the Summer Liberal Arts Institute in July, worked a remote internship for a data science firm and helped with International Student Orientation and New Student Week in August. Needless to say, I was a little busy. But being on campus while the vast majority of my friends were scattered across the country and the world made campus feel so empty. Even on good days, I would sometimes look out the window and wonder idly what everybody was doing and when they’d be back to resume the good times. The peace and downtime was endlessly appreciated, especially by my now-shrunken pile of unread books, but after a while there was a deep longing for the sheer chaos of a trimester here.


It was during this lonesome summer that I first began to realize that I was a sophomore now. Introducing myself at SLAI to the students, I referred to myself for the very first time as a rising sophomore. I had internalized my identity as a freshman, as a newbie to this whole thing, to such an extent that it pained me on a near-physical level to call myself a sophomore. Sophomorism was an unfortunate condition that afflicted unfortunate upperclassmen who had to deal with far-away issues like career choices and major declarations and writing portfolios. I was a freshman and I always would be. Until I wasn’t, anymore. 


I could no longer deny it by the time ISO rolled around, since my entire job was to orient my replacements in the strange land that is Northfield, Minnesota. I’ll freely admit, I was envious of them. Tired and jet-lagged for sure, but full of energy and wonder. Bouncing around from activity to activity, asking so many questions, looking forward to the next day’s events (until we got to the CarlTalks, of course, but I digress) and all the rest. I found that somewhere along the way from last year, I had lost some of that spark. I am still overcommitted to the moon and back, involved in campus life as much as I am able, but there was this pure joy about the incoming class that I simply no longer possessed. Was it lost in the snows of the last winter storm? Was it lost in the sleep deprivation of a 20-credit term last spring? Was it lost as I slowly but surely got used to the beauty of our campus, glossing over and missing what is so wondrous to fresh eyes? I cannot say when I lost it, but I know that I did. 

I look for faces in crowds before realizing that some of them have graduated, and I’ll probably never see them again. I miss them.

Sophomore year. I still have not come fully to terms with it in these first three weeks. I hold actual responsibilities now, jobs in International Student Life and Boliou Hall that I chose to apply for as opposed to being assigned by the college. I’m Social Dance Captain, an editor for the Carletonian, co-founder of Vivify and Class Representative for my year. Few of those are responsibilities I would have been able to manage last year, and now I have all of them at once. I see people I’ve never seen before in the dining halls and immediately clock them as freshmen, since I never saw them last year (and I’m right more times than not, mostly). I feel better about my taste in fashion, and now know all the fun spots in Northfield (the few that exist), and it feels really good when I get asked a question about an organization I’m involved in or about campus as a whole. I don’t get lost or feel the need to ask where things are on campus anymore. I feel like I have friends here who understand me, and rarely have trouble finding a social space that would welcome me any day of the week.


I look for faces in crowds before realizing that some of them have graduated, and I’ll probably never see them again. I miss them. I walk the streets with the knowledge that it’ll happen again and again until I’m the one people won’t see anymore. I got broken up with two weeks before the term started. Some of my friends have transferred, and I never got to say goodbye. I’ve been talking to professors about graduate school and jobs. I’m now the one at the Involvement Fair doing the recruiting instead of the one signing up. I increasingly wonder if I am using my time most effectively, or if I am making more and more mistakes. There are people on campus I avoid. I sometimes find myself wishing for time to pass more quickly or slowly depending on the particular kind of existential melancholy I’m feeling that day. Major declarations are soon; distant shapes of comps projects are visible far in the horizon. Things are different now; I’m starting to struggle in some of my higher-level classes and make even more decisions about what to prioritize than I thought possible. Sophomore year is change, an endless and ceaseless amount of it. Sophomore year is alienation, isolation, freedom and acceptance. 


I still say freshman sometimes, though less frequently now, when people ask me about my class year. It’s subtle and I’ll catch myself doing it, but I like to imagine it’s my little way of staying in touch with the me of last year. A little starry-eyed kid from a nowhere country trying to solve the unsolvable puzzle of college life, academics, social norms, love and warring identities while trying to keep up with all their classes. I think that person is still somewhere in there, on days when I can keep myself out of the books long enough to look outside and breathe in the rain and sun on campus, and see the squirrels and birds and everything else that makes this place home. Some of my friends just banged on the window at my work and offered me a raw onion with bites out of it. I took the fourth chunk out of it and savored the taste. That part is not a metaphor; it just happened. But anyhow, I still say freshman sometimes, and I like to imagine that’s true, but maybe moving on from that into sophomore year won’t be so bad. Maybe I am a sophomore now, and it’ll be alright.


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About the Contributor
Rahim Hamid
Rahim Hamid, Viewpoint Editor
I write, I debate, I bike, I lie, I true, I draw and program and dance and all the rest. Say hi and don’t be a stranger! Rahim is a sophomore and previously wrote for the Viewpoint Section.

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