Campus is coming back to life - reawakening from its summer slumber. Voices are reemerging in the hallways along with footsteps and activity. Bodies float across the quad more frequently.
As I arrived today, I saw parents helping students carry, wheel, schlep, lug, and drag their belongings to their dorm rooms. I remember when...
I remember when it was me moving on to campus. The anticipation, the nervousness, the excitement, the relief. Summer was over and I knew that a grueling experience of challenging my mind and taxing my stamina laid ahead. But I was eager to reconnect with my friends (of course, there was the excitement of meeting new people the first year) and to hear about their adventures. There was always the need to get so much done those first few days. We had to register for classes. No internet back then, so we had to go to a room and sign up for classes. There were different time slots according to year, but otherwise it was first in line, first in class. I learned that there was always a crowd when it first opened in the morning, but when those people got through it was fairly empty until about noon when the crowd lingered until registration closed.
It was also important to find the perfect time to go to the bookstore for your books; otherwise you would be bumping into everyone and waiting hours in line. There was always the shock of how much the books cost and the debate whether to buy them used to only save a few dollars. I hated used books. I found people would highlight and markup the wrong sections - and that would be terribly distracting. Why would someone highlight that?
The best part would be the late nights, hanging out in a lounge or outside on campus somewhere. Reestablishing the connection to your fellow students, your collegiate kin. Retelling experiences, lamenting hardship, overcoming disappointment, and reading ourselves for the upcoming challenge.
I never did work as hard as I could have in college, but I did work hard - most of the time.
As I watch the students today I reminisce and in doing so share some of their emotion. But some of their experiences were obviously unthinkable to me way back then. In particular the constant contact they have with everyone else. Cell phones, computers, the internet. How has that changed their experiences? There is no catching up because everyone knows what everyone else is doing from their facebook updates. They don't need to hunt down their friends on campus because they just call them up and ask them where they are.
But the anticipation, the nervousness, the dreariness, the excitement, the dread, and the preparation for the new semester is still there. As their professor, I know what awaits them - at least in my classes. How will they respond? That's up to them. Their response is important, though. It will set the dynamic for the semester, which in turn will determine the nature of the class. I'm bringing my experience and my nerdy enthusiasm...and yes, my nostalgia...which emotions and experiences will they bring?