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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

Easing apprehension

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(10/2014) The unfamiliar, strange, and foreign tends to frighten people, even if itís something as small as trying a new meal at your favorite restaurant or having to present a speech to your class. I am not new to the feeling of uneasiness when it comes to the unknown, but this isnít tasting an exotic dish or trumping my stage fright. This is college. It finally sunk in when I watched my parents drive away that I am on my own, for the most part. Initially, itís the excitement at the prospect of being independent, the feeling that Iím a "grown-up," but when that melts away Iím left with the nervousness. I was apprehensive about the impending trials of keeping up with the course work, making friends, and experiencing all I could without letting my grades slip.

Luckily, my roommate wasnít a problem. We both went to Visitation Academy for Girls in Frederick and we have known each other since first grade, so we knew the otherís "defects" and personality quirks. As I just mentioned, I attended a small, all-girls, Catholic school, and after that I attended a small Catholic high school called Saint Maria Goretti. I was used to small, close-knit communities and college had always been portrayed in movies as vast and confusing. So I was a little relieved that as soon as everything settled down, it wasnít as frightening as I thought. I didnít find myself in an intimidating campus, but rather in the close, Catholic community that is Mount Saint Maryís.

Before the school year started I signed up for a retreat called Mountward Bound, where I, along with several other first-year students, served the surrounding communities. I love taking part in community service, but I was never a fan of retreats. I always had bad experiences, so my expectations were fairly low, although our retreat did have the added benefit of early arrival to campus. After everyone was settled we piled into the vans and set out to our intended destination. The retreat center was called Summit Lake, and it was located in the woods by (you guessed it!) a picturesque lake. After everyone moved their belongings into their rooms, we completed some icebreaker activities.

At this point, I know what youíre thinking. I inwardly groan every time I hear those words, but after the initial awkwardness we grew accustomed to one another; we were slowly starting to shed the nervousness of being away from home and beginning to feel relaxed in each otherís company. I think this was mostly due to the fact that the leaders on the trip were also students, so it was comfortable to be in their company. Not to mention, they were some of the kindest, funniest, and most easy-going people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. On the first day we went to a thrift store to help restock and it was uplifting to see the once emptied shelves overflowing with new merchandise. Then we went to Baker Park (in my hometown of Frederick) for a picnic and played some very amusing games. Our last stop for the day was at Montevue Assisted Living, where we played bingo and visited with the residents. On the next day we went to a Silence of Mary Home in Harrisburg. Silence of Mary is a home to those who need one. It was founded by Sue and Vern Rudy, who help communities that are affected by poverty by providing food, shelter and a safe environment to those who need it. We also went to a free-trade, non-profit organization called SERRV, where we helped inspect and package handmade goods from all over the world. Throughout these four days, the people I worked with became friends. We worked and played and laughed alongside each other and we formed a bond of sorts. I have never been so glad to have been on a retreat.

The first week of classes was gone in a blur of syllabi and first impressions. So far I enjoy all my teachers and the classes are interesting too. What I really admire is the passion all the professors have, not only for their subject, but for teaching as well. One of my absolute favorites is my "Introduction to Shakespeare" class, taught by Dr. Sarah Scott. My preference for this subject may be a tad biased because of my intentions to be an English major, but my love for the written word cannot be helped. My original worries are not as prominent as they were at the start. Yes, I am still concerned about my grades and about juggling a social life, but so far I am doing well in class, I have good friends, and above all, I have found my place in this family here at Mount Saint Maryís.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir