Transferring is Haaaard

Let me paint you a word picture. Remember fall/winter of your senior year of high school? Ah, memories. Memories mainly of the grueling, painful, next-level difficult college application process. Perhaps you did not vehemently hate applying to college, and perhaps even did not irrationally procrastinate doing so whenever possible, but if that is the case then you and I are not the same.

Despite this immense struggle, I persevered and applied and got into colleges and accepted one with great joy and relief and thought that was over and done with.

But then I got to college, promptly helped myself to a heavier and more all-encompassing workload than the one I had in high school, and thought, Hey. You know what would be fun? Doing my least favorite thing I’ve ever had to do again, while also having a barely feasible amount of work.

Thus I started up that glorious process again, while living it up in the second semester of my freshman year of college! It was an utter blast, and I definitely didn’t stay at the library until closing three nights per week or anything.

In all seriousness, there is no human emotion on this Earth quite like logging into the Common App website as a college student. I have never experienced full-body disgust like I did at the moment I was forced to enter the abyss of the College Board website and once more pay $15 to send each AP score to each school on my list. (What on this great green earth could those fifteen dollars possibly go to? They don’t even have to print anything! Just inform four post-secondary institutions of the grade I received on a U.S. History exam I took three years ago, please!)

I am already way more excited about Emerson than I was about my last school (air of mystery here so as not to start any drama), which makes that terrible period of my human existence worth it. However. Things did not suddenly become easy, which was a disappointment because I hope constantly that life will abruptly transform into a 24/7 walk in the park.

Being an Emerson student is pretty great so far, but being a transfer student can be hard. It is often like being a freshman, but with none of the youthful glow and optimism. All the knowledge you built up about your last college is suddenly totally useless. (I haven’t needed to keep up a mental ranking of preferred shower stalls in the second-floor communal bathroom of my dorm building in five months, and yet here I am today, constantly aware that the one closest to the window is by far the best in terms of amount of space and adaptability of water temperature.)

But this breadth of knowledge is not the worst thing that does not transfer, because if you start attending Emerson YOUR GPA DOES NOT TRANSFER. This is truly the worst thing I can possibly imagine. Not only does it feel like all the work I did last year has disappeared before my very eyes, but I have much less time and fewer data points now. In other words, a required class I didn’t want to take in the first place suddenly matters a whole lot.

If there is one thing in the entire world that rivals the loss of my existing GPA for unpleasantness, it is having to make friends once again. As a process, it is so hard and weird! But here I am in a new city, at a new school, and apparently socializing is expected, or something. This is especially difficult because it is very tempting to lay on the floor and use Snapchat and Instagram to watch the lives of my friends from my last college and/or my friends from home as they happily begin their second year at the same school. With friends they’ve already made. What a luxury!

But even with all of those mildly depressing negatives, I still really recommend transferring if you feel unsatisfied. Because we all pay wayyyy too much money to get anything other than the best four years of all time.

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The Life of a Homeschooler

  Okay, I’ll admit it, I was homeschooled.

I know what you’re thinking, but I was not homeschooled in the antisocial-god fearing-I only wear sandals-sort of way. In fact, it came as a surprise to many people when I decided to be homeschooled at the age of ten. I was raised by a single mom who worked as a school teacher. My mom, bless her heart, has always put 110 percent into everything that she does. It didn’t come as a surprise when she was a favorite among students at Kyrene del Milenio Elementary school. However, growing up as an only child, and attending the school where my mom taught was not a great experience from my young perspective. For me, it meant waking up at 5 am and getting to school before the sun came up. It meant eating cheese danishes from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for breakfast. It meant sharpening pencils for my mom’s classroom every morning. It meant re-watching every VHS from the school library (I might scream if someone ever makes me watch the animated Hobbit movie again). However, in most people’s eyes, I was the shy girl who read all the time and had an amazing teacher as a mom.

So, in third grade, when I started dreading school and straight up refused to go, it came as a surprise to many people. My mom hadn’t been teaching for a couple of years, a result of traumatic brain injury. I was struggling socially and academically throughout third and fourth grade. I didn’t get bad grades, but I had a hard time sitting at a desk all day. I excelled in reading but was average at math and was skimmed over in a class of 35 kids. I was not only bored but I was a weird kid. I was obsessed with horror from a young age, loved to read at lunch and had crushes on girls and boys (I didn’t connect this idea until I was 14). None of these things helped me to make friends and I remember being mortified when I realized that many people in my grade would talk about me behind my back. Secret conversations and laughter ending abruptly with eyes averted whenever I walked past. Even my “best friend” in third grade told me she had to be my secret friend at school even though we had sleepovers every weekend. All of these things resulted in tears before school and refusal to go. Eventually, my mom sat me down and had me make a list of everything I wanted in a school.

      Addy’s Dream School

  • More reading time
  • Pets at school
  • Help with math
  • More field trips
  • Wearing PJs whenever I want

After making the list, homeschooling was an obvious option. My mom and I only knew one other family that homeschooled, so it was a mostly unknown option to us. Still, we started this strange and exciting endeavor at the beginning of my 5th-grade year.  My mom used her teaching background and resources to create general lesson plans and we eventually found local homeschool groups to join. I continued with homeschooling all the way through high school. I took community college classes from age twelve, graduated with double the credit needed for high school graduation, performed Shakespeare, volunteered with multiple organizations and traveled extensively with my mother.

Despite all the weird looks when I told people I was homeschooled, the probing questions about my social life and college plans, I’m not going to be ashamed of being a homeschooler anymore. It has brought me academic challenges and travel opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, but more importantly, it introduced me to a group of friends that taught me self-confidence and accepted all of my weird quirks. I was immersed by people who wore whatever they wanted, studied everything from music theory to Latin and valued treating each other with respect. This has shaped me in numerous ways, but most obviously brought me to Emerson College where I continue to be surrounded by creative, weird and passionate people.

Reading in Strange Places

“Addelynn Rose please come to the checkout desk. Your mother is looking for you. Thank you.”

I’ve heard my name called out over the Barnes and Noble speaker countless times. I would climb out from behind whatever shelf or display I was reading behind and go to the checkout desk, a sheepish grin on my face. My mom would take a breath of relief, then smile warmly and ask, “Was the book really good?”

As a kid, I never sat in the chairs at bookstores. I know; it’s weird. I preferred to find a small corner, a nook between bookshelves, anything that was slightly hidden. I must have gotten weird looks from the few people that walked past me, but I was too absorbed in my book to care. It wasn’t just bookstores though. I’ve always managed to find odd places to read. Staircases, boat cuddies and playground castles have all served as reading nooks. I attribute a lot of this, particularly when I was younger, to being shy. They say that cats like to sit in boxes because it gives them the illusion that they can’t be seen which dramatically lowers their stress levels. Finding hidden places for me to read did the same thing for me as a kid. I’ve never felt comfortable in a large group of people. Reading was my escape so I figured that it made sense to literally hide as well. Each corner or crevice becoming my own secret place where I could experience other worlds without distraction. If you’re doubting me you should go watch The NeverEnding Story again.

As I got older it became less about hiding and more about forming attachments to a place. I started to notice that I would associate a particular place with what I read there. I can walk through the park near my childhood home and name places after what I read at each one. A small hill slopes down parallel to my cul-de-sac, Judy Blume hill. I remember filling my afternoons, stretched out on a picnic blanket on this hill, reading Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and Superfudge. The Eucalyptus by the park is Book Thief. The pine next to it is A Wrinkle in Time. The top of the playground tower is Stargirl tower. I’ve read multiple books in each place, but usually there’s one book that sticks out in my memory.

Every time I read somewhere it was like I was leaving a bit of myself there too. The more I read in a place the more I felt comfortable in it. For me going to a new place was like getting to know a new friend. There’s always one conversation where you share a secret, a part of yourself, and that’s when you become really close with them. Reading somewhere new was like sharing a secret with that place; it would become mine in a sense. It was comforting to know that no matter where I went I could find somewhere to read, to feel safe.

Reading in strange places wasn’t always a solo activity for me. My love of reading is definitely influenced by my mom. She not only encouraged reading by filling our house with books but by reading with me. We use to read out loud together, switching off every page or two. We would read whenever we got the chance like on the public bus or at our favorite restaurant. I have a pretty distinct memory of starting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at The House of Egg Roll. Although I’m pretty sure we read in a tree at least once or twice. I’m extremely grateful that she not only inspired my love of reading, but my love of reading outdoors or wherever I feel comfortable. I often felt like an outsider growing up and being able to read where I felt safe was so important to me.
I’ll admit that I sometimes read in chairs or semi-normal places now, but having somewhere that I don’t associate with anything besides reading is important to me. I’m in love with the idea of spending hours alone with a book, completely transfixed by another world filled with complex characters and stories. They say the best books are the ones where you can forget you’re reading a book, and I agree with that wholeheartedly.

For me, a strange reading place, whether it be underneath a tree, inside a cuddy, or in a blanket fort, only enhances the experience of a good book. There’s something that just makes it feel right. The same way you feel when you find the perfect sleeping position or have a really good first kiss with someone. I might not hide in Barnes and Nobles anymore, but I still find my own hidden places whenever I can. My current favorite? Graveyards.

Heart Map Series: Jess

1. Politics: I like to say that I love politics, even when I don’t like politics. The current political climate is obviously not ideal, but that doesn’t mean I have any less of an interest in the study of politics and government. I make an effort to learn as much as I can and to keep up with current events. If I could pick my dream future, it would be one where I have a career in which I get paid just to write about politics.

2. Netflix: I chose to highlight Netflix on this list because the majority of TV shows I watch are Netflix originals or at least ones available for viewing on Netflix. I’m an avid House of Cards fan and am anxiously awaiting its return this May. I also enjoy Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. Just last week, I finished 13 Reasons Why and while I have some complaints about how the show handled difficult topics, I can’t say I wasn’t hooked on it.

Continue reading “Heart Map Series: Jess”

What It’s Like To Have Anxiety

It’s like a shiver, growing in strength as it climbs from the tips of your fingers to the top of your shoulders. A fizzing of carbonated drinks rumbling right under the surface, with every pop follows a shiver. All you can do is imagine your bed and comfortable blanket and sweatshirt waiting for you at home, mere miles and hours in your future. “You can get through this,” you tell yourself. “Just keep going,” you say as you move through your necessary operations. You look at everyone else, envy building within your bones that they seem to be at ease. Maybe they’re nervous about an impending job interview or national test their future relies on, but their skin hasn’t broken out in cold telltale hives of your anxieties.

Continue reading “What It’s Like To Have Anxiety”

The Perks of Letter Writing

When I started college, I started writing letters more and more. I had always enjoyed writing birthday cards or notes to my friends when I thought they needed to be cheered up, but those were always passed out in person because I never had a reason to send them. Once I went to college, though, I started writing letters even more because it was exciting to me that I could put a stamp on something and send it. As outdated as letter writing seems, I really enjoy it and want to share a few perks of letter writing.

1. Nostalgia

Even though people my age probably don’t remember sending letters as much as our parents and grandparents do, we still grew up in an age where letter writing was slightly popular. It’s fun to write letters and be taken back to a time before everything was so fast paced and everyone expected an instant response.

2. A Great Way to Connect

You always hear stories about parents and grandparents trying to use technology so they can connect with their grandkids, but have you ever heard stories of grandkids writing letters to connect with their grandparents? Probably not, because that’s just not “cool.” I once got into a conversation with my grandmother about how I write letters to my friends and to pen pals and now we correspond. She sends me photos of herself and her family when she was younger and it’s a fun way to get to know her better.

3. A Way to Meet New People

I’ve seen websites and Tumblr pages dedicated entirely to finding pen pals. Some of these people look for electronic correspondence, but most are looking to write letters. These websites post bios of people looking for pen pals with things like where they’re from and their interests, and people can visit these websites and find people to correspond with. It’s a way to meet new people and find someone who has interests similar to yours.

4. A Possible Connection With Yourself

When I was in eighth grade, I had a health assignment to write a letter to my future self. The health teacher took our addresses and sent our letters to us when we graduated high school. My english teacher did the same thing when I was a senior and sent our letters to us when we finished our first year of college. I now plan on continuing this and writing myself a letter every year so that I can open it at the end of the next school year. It’s very cool to see how you’ve grown, but also what still stays the same. I’ve noticed that in five years, I’ve grown up, but a lot of my morals that were good are still the same.

5. A Creative Outlet

I’m a very creative person and I’ve always enjoyed immersing myself in creative projects to express myself. Writing letters is fun because it’s a way to express myself and be creative. I write in different colors or use different colored paper and stickers to make the letter unique to whomever I’m sending it to.

6. A New Hobby

Letter writing is definitely a hobby and I enjoy it very much. It’s a whole process. I collect different note cards and patterned paper to write on, and I make sure I have the pens I like to write my letters. Everyone has a different way of writing letters. Some people buy pretty stationery, some make their own, and some prefer to just write on blank or lined paper. There’s nothing more satisfying in my opinion than writing someone a letter that makes them smile and then receiving a reply that makes you smile as well. It’s very exciting to receive letters.

7. It’s Personal

I’m a writer, so I will always be better with the written word than the spoken word. All my friends and family know that if I write a card or letter then it’s something very special and personal. I never say anything I don’t mean in my letters and it’s my way to let people know how much they mean to me or how special they are. At least in my mind, there’s something uniquely special about writing a letter that you can’t get in any other medium.

8. A Different Writing Style

I try to be a Jack of All Trades when it comes to writing styles. I try to step away from just writing fiction and dabble in all different writing styles. I consider letter writing to be its own writing style. There’s something completely different about the language you use and the approach you take when you write letters. I like writing letters because I feel like it’s another way to broaden my horizons as a writer.

9. Makes People Happy

I love writing letters because I know how happy it makes the people who receive them. Sometimes I just send my friends letters without them knowing because I like seeing their reaction when they receive it. It makes me feel good to know that something I like to do can make other people happy.

10. A Break from Technology

When I write letters it’s a welcome break from technology. I sit down with my papers and pens and craft something that is unique and beautiful. It’s nice to take a break from the fast-paced world of emails, texts and emojis for a while and write an old-fashioned letter.

Letter writing is a big hobby of mine and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already do it. You don’t have to be an amazing writer or have fancy supplies. Just find a friend or family member and ask them to correspond. I’m sure they’ll be happy to do it. Through my letter writing, I inspired a few of my friends to take up letter writing with pen pals of their own and it makes me happy to know I can influence others to take up a hobby I’ve come to love so much.

With This Ring, I Thee Wed

With This Ring, I Thee Wed

Though I’m closer with the bride, I watched the groom’s face when she appeared and as she walked down the aisle. Juliane: cool as a cucumber. I unintentionally cheated and got a sneak peak. I saw her being driven up to the church and watched her step out of the car, looking perfect and casual in a dress I’d only ever seen on a hanger in her sweet, homey apartment. Alex: as in love with her as we, his friends, knew he had always been.

I could only imagine how they were feeling as I observed the ceremony, connecting my past with theirs. I wrote it in the guest book. I am one of the lucky ones who got to see this relationship from the beginning. We were in Emerson Christian Fellowship together, back when I had my life together. There was a whole gang of us but sometimes it felt like the three of us were the Three Musketeers. Even before they started dating, I never felt like a third wheel. We planned a trip to New York together. I still joke with them about saying it was too expensive to go and canceling the plans. A couple weeks later, they started dating and they went without me. I’ve still never been.

Their relationship has paralleled mine with my boyfriend. In fact, it has sometimes even been perpendicular. But we all began our romantic relationships the same week in December 2011. Our friends and I had badgered them since they got lost in the woods at a weekend retreat the first month of school. Alex was leading Juliane and her roommate to the girls’ cabin but it took them hours to find it. Even though they had a chaperone, all of us always thought that this was their great beginning. The two of them ending up together was bound to happen, written in the stars above Lake Winnipesauke. We all knew it.

As I watched them exchanging vows, I couldn’t help but think about myself. I knew from that morning it was going to be a hard day. First, planning to get to Plantsville, Connecticut was a struggle. I’d just had to pay rent and wasn’t getting enough hours at work, so taking a bus wasn’t an option. In the end, I took a train to Worcester, where I met up with my boyfriend who drove me to Hartford so I could meet up with another friend to drive me the final 20 minutes to the wedding venue. That was another adventure. No one in that car knew each other. One guy knew Juliane and Alex from Wildwood, a summer Christian outreach program in New Jersey, and the other girl had just flown in from London but had gone to high school with Juliane in California. We all clearly had a lot to talk about.

Second, I was awkward around her mother. I joked later, saying to Leslie, “Never make the mistake of calling a German woman ‘Mama Bear.’ She didn’t find it amusing.” This is only my second wedding since losing my mother, and I couldn’t help but be jealous of Juliane and Alex’s big family. Writing this article, I’ve had to tell myself not to let the article become about that loss. As hard as weddings are for me knowing I won’t have my built-in matron of honor, my love and admiration for the couple does not waver. The hope the day brings for the future outshines any sadness I could ever feel.

When we got to the church, I ended up being a sort of tour guide for Leslie, who didn’t know anyone but the bride and her family. Alex’s best friend Stephen escorted us to our seats. When he asked which side, I got overexcited. “I can sit with them!” I called out when I saw Wes and Julie, some old friends from church. Until the ceremony started, Leslie and I talked, listening to the soft piano music playing once in a while.

I figured I would be a wreck. When Juliane and Alex announced their engagement I immediately started crying. Seriously, it was like Niagara Falls met my face. We were at Juliane’s apartment, “The Port,” for a surprise birthday party. When Alex escorted her in, we all yelled, “Surprise!” and Juliane was surprised. But not as surprised as most of us were when Alex said, “We have a surprise for you,” and Juliane held up her ring hand, which was sporting a solitaire diamond. Yet at the wedding, I did not cry. For the most part, the event went as planned. I learned from a bridesmaid that the only mistake during the ceremony was that her guitar was missing its strap. I watched as she gracefully found a chair and sat to play “In Christ Alone” near the end of the wedding. Then later, at the reception, all of the wedding party’s names were announced wrong. Elise became “Elsa,” and none of the groomsmen were announced as themselves. The kicker was when he called out “Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Steven Hoder!” A beat later, the man, who we later learned was Alex’s uncle, corrected himself. Juliane and Alex, the picture of young grace, just laughed.

A few nights ago on my way home from work, I ran into a couple of people from Emerson on the T and I told them about the wedding. They were intrigued. The first thing anyone from our school does when they learn about Alex and Juliane getting married so young is express surprise. In both American and Emersonian culture, getting married at our age is not normal. They haven’t graduated; they’ll be attending Emerson LA in the fall. “Will he be her RA?” one of the bridesmaids jokingly asked months ago. “How is the sleeping situation going to work?” The girl on the T wondered aloud. I have faith in their relationship; it has been wonderful watching them toss the dice and go all in.

I always thought of marriage as this end-of-the-line, after-the-wedding entity but dancing with them to “Love Shack” and “Turn Down for What” at the reception, I learned that I have not lost my friends to some big scary thing. Our relationship can grow again. This time it isn’t New York but the world they’ll take by storm and I still get to watch and admire them, learning how to be successful in a relationship of my own. My favorite part is that they’ll be living down the street from me this summer. We may never be in the same place again but during my first and last summer in Boston, I get to be close to the people who have been there with me from the beginning.