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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Path to independence

Morgan Rooney
MSMU Class of 2020

(1/2018) Now three semesters into my college career, I can say that my first sophomore semester brought about all sorts of new challenges and responsibilities that I had managed to pass by during my first year at this university. The most notable change that really made this semester different from the others was the tradition from dorm life to attending college as a commuter student. Of course, I am happy I spent a year living on the beautiful campus, meals included. It was an experience that left me with no worry but to simply enjoy the ambiance of a small rural university, and the company of friends and classmates of close proximity to me. For the rest of my life I will be able to tell people about my college experience in a dorm, and the close friendship I developed from living with my roommate, someone I had not known previously to move-in day.

Although dorm life was not a negative experience, I determined that it wasnít the life for me. After careful consideration towards the end of my freshman year, I decided to continue my education while living away from the university. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was actually living almost completely independently. After taking a year off work to settle in to college life, I even acquired a parttime job. Before I went to college, I was never completely dependent on others. I knew how to do most things on my own. Something I often heard when I first left for my first year of college was that I would need to learn to do my own laundry.

When I first heard this, I was actually kind of surprised and amused that some people, at the age of eighteen, had never done their own laundry and relied solely on their parents for something as simple as working a washing machine. Of course, I was reliant on my parents for food and shelter previously, but for most things, I was fairly independent. After this semester began, however, I began to realize all the things I had never done on my own before, or even had a second thought about. Things like changing the air-conditioning filter, replacing smoke alarm batteries, and cooking up homemade beef stew for the week for more people than myself were things I had to learn to do and remember to do along with my daily assignments and projects.

One of the drawbacks of living off-campus was that I no longer lived a short three-minute walk away from my earliest morning class; I now had a daily morning commute. Yes, it certainly does take a bit of time away from the morning, which I preferably could have spent drinking a hot cup of tea or having a more nutritional or well-prepared breakfast. However, I find my thirty-five-minute drive quite relaxing, even therapeutic to a certain extent. It brings me time to think and to contemplate the day ahead and all it might bring. Everyone finds peace and solitude through some sort of solo activity, whether it be hiking, meditating, or even an extra five minutes in the shower in the morning.

Driving is my way to take a meditative break from the rest of the world. On my way to school, I can think about pretty much anything. I can run the presentation I am about to conduct to one of my classes through my head; I can consider my life aspirations and how I tend to get there; I can even contemplate the meaning of life and the importance of each individual being I have ever encountered in my two decades of life. In this fast-paced world filled with newly-developing technology and constant motion, it is important to take a step back, slow down, and simply enjoy the ride of life. I believe that the passing scenery of the farmlands, soft music through the radio, and the light rumble of my car engine is the perfect place to take a step back and take life just one moment at a time. It's my favorite way to relieve stress.

Even if my daily journey only takes me thirty minutes down the road, the independence of expanding my boundaries is quite rewarding in the sense that I feel as if I have expanded my freedom. Through this independence, I have increased my individuality. Even if my day only consists of taking a trip down to the local grocery store to purchase ingredients to prepare a homemade mealórather than something out of a box or the freezerómy day feels fulfilled. Any spontaneous or impulsive decision that I make can be executed now because I have given myself the freedom to do so, without being reliant on other kind-hearted people doing me favors. I feel now as if I made the best decision for me.

Although living away from the university brings about an increase in responsibility, I donít necessarily think this extra responsibility is a negative thing. It is important to take on new responsibilities if you wish to be independent, which is something I very much strive to achieve on many levels. I believe that independence comes along with success and is an important part of it: I now know that I can achieve things on my own, as an individual.

Although this semester has brought many new challenges, both academically and personally on a day-to-day basis, the overall experience of this semester was certainly greater than the previous ones. As a result of my new-found independence, I am confident that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I can take care of myself, manage a morning commute, and meet the academic demands of college life; I will meet the rising challenges next semester, and I expect the semesters ahead of me at the Mount to be even better and to bring more adventures and experiences to my life. I look forward to the years to come.

Read other articles by Morgan Rooney