Words cannot begin to describe the experience I have had during these four months at Ohio State. I moved here not totally sure what I was getting myself into; and as a first-generation student, my family also had absolutely no idea what this journey would be. I was worried I would not make friends, fail all of my classes, and have a terrible roommate experience. I was excited on move-in day, incredibly eager to see what the future would hold, but scared nonetheless.
Thankfully, the complete opposite has happened. I have a wonderful friend group that I have already made so many memories with (shoutout to the pals!), including the Zoo, our weekly “family” dinners, and playing jackbox.tv games in the rec room. I am doing surprisingly well with my coursework; it may not be all As, but for a freshman in college who has never had to study before in her life, I do not think it’s too bad. I am satisfied with my overall performance this semester, and I think that is really what counts.
Finally, my roommate experience has been leaps and bounds above what I expected. I heard horror story after horror story before moving in about people’s experiences with their roommates (and I went random… even SCARIER), and I was very anxious about what it would be like. As the oldest of three and the only daughter, I never had to share a room before. However, Chloe — and honorary roommate Ryann — has been the best one someone could ask for.
My first semester at Ohio State has had some really high highs, but also some low lows. I had to learn how to study, I had to make new friends, and I had to acclimate to living in one of the biggest cities in the country after living in a town of 3000 for 18 years. However, I believe I have done quite alright for myself so far. I am happy, I am academically afloat, and my social circle is full of supportive friends. I do not believe I could have had a better first semester!
I am from a small town in Ohio, a little place that I like to call “in the middle of a cornfield.” Its actual name, Newcomerstown, comes from one “Chief Newcomer,” more commonly known as Chief Netawatwees. Originally, my town’s name (or, at least, the area) was Gekelmukpechunk. It was the largest Lenape village on the Tuscarawas River in its prime, but over time its importance declined. My town now has a population hovering around 3,000, and it is ever-declining per the US Census; the demographic of said population is around 96% White, and the remaining four percent is spread among African-American, Latino, and Asian populations.A source of my town’s declining population is the economy, or lack thereof. Things went downhill once Simonds’, a factory that produced metal files and shipped them all over the world, shut down a couple decades ago. The population, once nearly 5,000, has declined steadily since then. There are a couple of factories on the outskirts of town, but most people are employed out of town. The only real options for student jobs are fast food; we only have a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s (my former employer), and recently a Taco Bell. This food is far from healthy for us to be around and eat on our breaks, but there’s not really another option than out of town.I come from a small town in the foothills of the Appalachians, already an impoverished area of this country, far removed from its peak. I come from a land 30 minutes from the closest Walmart and an hour from the nearest Target. I come from a graduating class of 75, and a school district that closes on the first day on deer hunting season. I come from an area of economic and social conservatism that has forced me to hide parts of myself, mask my opinions, and be quiet.However, I am not who I am because of my upbringing and surroundings; I am who I am in spite of it. In my application essay for the Humanities Scholars, I likened myself to that of Jay Gatsby. While I cannot say I have made something of myself through bootlegging, I can relate to making something from nothing. I still stand by that essay I submitted one year ago, and I continue to work towards my ultimate goals of happiness, fulfillment, and stability— things I have not really experienced in the long term. So, as I sit here writing this on a charter bus to Chicago, I reflect on what it took to get myself in this position. I have taken a lot of pride and self-satisfaction in my successes, but I am not content. I will continue to stay hungry and focused, and prove to myself that my upbringing and surroundings will not determine my outcome.
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