When the dog bites, when the bee stings… (alternatively, when you do poorly on your first astronomy assignment, when you can’t shower because there’s obscene amounts of hair in one stall and a passionate couple in the other…) …when you’re feeling sad…
When I first moved into college, a useful piece of advice my Bed, Bath, and Beyond salesperson gave me was to wash all of my sheets with a high dose of the detergent used at my home. She told me that the familiarity of the scent—in my case, classic Tide—would be a subtle enough way to keep me from getting too homesick. The salesperson was right: in an alien environment, sometimes I just really needed the smell of home to calm me down.
I’ve been at Barnard for more than a month now, and the pace just keeps getting faster. And since it’s really not a Paulina-Mangubat-TP-Article without a terrible reference to some film, play, or novel, I’ve found that if I simply remember my favorite things…sometimes things aren’t so bad.
Continuing hobbies in college sounds pretty simple at the outset, but it’s actually pretty difficult once you get down to the nitty gritty. The issues start with the scheduling. First and foremost, I’m an Irish dancer, crafter, and writer. These all seem like pretty simple things to schedule, but in practice (much like Communism, Zumba sessions, and jury duty) they’re kind of impossible to fit in. Writing for pleasure is difficult when you feel like you should be writing an essay for Africana 101. Painstakingly mod-podging a Barnard phone case feels like a waste of time when there are chemistry problem sets to be completed. And Irish dancing? Irish dancing feels counterproductive when I could be practicing my plies for Ballet 101.
Other observations: finding venues for hobbies is nearly impossible. Clearing a dance room is brutal, Mod Podge is hella expensive in New York City, and finding the perfect cafe to write the next Great American Novel should be a hobby in and of its own right.
Although one of the best ways to get used to the new environment college offers is to continue participating in the things you love, hobbies are oftentimes difficult to adapt to fit a college schedule. This by no means implies that you have to stop doing the things you love once you hit college, but it does mean that you’re going to have to get creative if the going gets tough.
I’ve managed to fill my Irish dance void with Ballet 101, for example. My crafting needles and glue have been set aside for a fulfilling stint as a cast member of Columbia’s production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I’ve been focusing on improving my writing technique for the various humanities courses I’ve sprinkled into my schedule so that when I do find the time to write the next Great American Novel, I know it’ll be fabulous.
Being separated from home has also encouraged me to try things I never would have considered in the past. I’m becoming more involved in performance troupes, honing my InDesign and Photoshop skills, and tutoring 8th graders in my spare time. I’ve found that I actually really like meeting new people—and now that I’m not forcing myself indoors to work on the hobbies I’ve spent my entire life doing, I’ve finally received the chance to go outside my comfort zone and try new things.
Back to The Sound of Music. Maria was singing about reminding yourself about your favorite things in times of distress, but she also emphasizes not letting your favorite things overwhelm your life to the point that you refuse to participate in exciting, unfamiliar experiences. College is tough, and there are going to be situations that are uncomfortable and maybe even a little bit unappealing. Remind yourself that while Maria championed favorite things (girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes…!) she also highlighted the importance of having confidence no matter the circumstances.