Chirps is up and running, and I’m copying my assigned readings for the semester to my master to-do list. In the dorms without air conditioning, we’re running fans and shutting windows. The ensembles are auditioning. People aren’t dropping classes quite yet. Posters for open houses are popping up everywhere. Welcome to the fall semester!
The class of 2019 is settling in, and ‘18, ‘17, and ‘16 are in full re-entry mode. Unfortunately for me, being part of the class of 2016 crowd, this is the last time. Last, last, last. Last classes, last concerts, last parties, last dorms. It’s very easy to feel nostalgic and kind of old (especially, in my case, because my baby brother is in the Class of 2019 at another wonderful liberal arts college!), but hopefully we won’t be too irritating. Interestingly enough, though, looking ahead to the next couple of months and my remaining two semesters, I can’t help but notice that there are more firsts than lasts.
This summer, I wrapped up my first paid research project through SURP. I couldn’t have asked for a more useful, exciting summer experience. Granted, some of the utility was in learning that sometimes you’re going to set unrealistic goals for what you can accomplish in ten weeks. I’m still trying to fight my disappointment in myself for not finishing my paper. I have 28 pages of scattered text and an outline, but nothing cohesive. I did successfully make a poster with a lot of help from my Photoshop-savvy suitemate (shoutout to Kelli Rockwell ‘17, who also launched her official poster design business site this summer), but my research feels like I’ve left a lot hanging open. Thankfully, a good portion of the material will likely carry over into my senior thesis, and I have an increasingly solid approach to formal analysis that I can talk about almost indefinitely. (By the way, come to the SURP poster presentation on September 3rd!)
SURP wasn’t my only first this summer, though. Between May and August, my other life firsts included paying rent (!!! $$$ !!!), shooting a bow and arrow, baking scones, walking a dog (don’t judge, I grew up with cats), helping paint a deck, hiking Mount Baldy, seeing a concert in Carnegie Hall, brining a cheese, taking the GRE, and moving without my parents. Some of these are fun, others are significantly less fun, but all of them are part of my experience of being 21.
All four of the Pomona classes have challenges to face this year. 2019 (hey firsties) will be figuring out what they like, establishing a social base, and adjusting to college academics and independence. 2018 will be declaring their majors and balancing what can sometimes be an awkward social divide between sponsor and non-sponsor sophomores. 2017 will be wrapping up some requirements, studying abroad (or not), and trying to avoid mention of what they’re doing after graduation. And 2016ers (that’s us, go 5enOirZ) have to confront the reality of May, apply for jobs or even more education, and get around to taking those classes they’ve always meant to try.
So this year, I’m going to focus on my firsts. This year, I will apply to graduate school for the first time (and hopefully the last???). I will write my first thesis. I will take my first linguistics class, my first religious studies class, and my first ethnomusicology class (hellooo, final major requirement). If all goes well, I will take my first voice lessons, take my first semester of German (graduate music theory requires it), hear the Kronos Quartet live for the first time, and hopefully visit some new U.S. states (I have 12 left). Hopefully, I’ll make some new friends. This time next year, I might have my first apartment and/or my first car. To me, senior year looks a lot more like beginnings than endings, which is really reassuring in an odd way. This fall and this spring are the culmination of my undergraduate education, and that’s really, really exciting. I’m feeling the burn of re-entry, but in a familiar, beautiful atmosphere that I still have 9 more months to call home.