February 1, 2019

Five snippets of Mount Holyoke life

Nina Larbi ’22

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Although I am clearly not a college expert — I have just finished my first semester of my first year at Mount Holyoke — I feel like I have gained a bit of experience along the way. On the one hand, I have locked myself out of my residence hall at 8 am on my second day and gone along with the wrong Orientation group for an entire day. And on the other, I’ve survived the stress of finals week and having five papers due within seven days. Plus I have made some truly amazing friends and shared great moments.

To ring in the spring semester, I have reached out to some friends to compile their favorite unexpected experiences as firsties. Because although the first semester of college is always an emotional and environmental adjustment, we, as a community, have made good memories.

A view of Creighton Hall as seen from lower lake
A long view of Creighton Hall, as seen from lower lake

An unexpected victory

First I spoke with Jane Kvederas ’22, who is originally from Easton, Pennsylvania. As her friend, I know her as a very driven person who cares deeply about the welfare of others, which prompted her to run for hall senator of Creighton Hall. She won, to her surprise, calling her victory “a very unexpected positive experience.”

Students at home, residence-hall style
Students at home, residence-hall style

The comfort of conversation

A favorite unexpected experience for Flannery Langton ’22, from Holliston, Massachusetts? Enjoying late-night conversations with her roommate after coming back to her room in Dickinson Hall. Langton expressed how “nice it was at the beginning of the year, to come home to a room and someone else would be there, and you wouldn’t be all alone in a new, unfamiliar place.”

Entrance to the Dining Commons, Community CenterEntrance to the Dining Commons, Community Center

Small details

Earlier in the fall semester, Elizabeth Belka ’22, who is from my hometown of Abington, Pennsylvania, was touched by the words of a Dining Services employee. “I swiped my card to get into the Dining Commons and said thank you to the woman working the station. She stopped, looked up at me, and said, ‘No, thank you. Without you kids, we wouldn’t be here.’ The staff and faculty at Mount Holyoke have been so welcoming, which has definitely helped my transition into a new community. Adults always say hello and are always polite, which seems like a small detail, but this has an enormously positive effect on the campus as a whole.”

Students atop Mount Holyoke on Mountain Day 2018Students atop Mount Holyoke on Mountain Day 2018

Seminar surprise

For Molly Kleinman ’21 of Los Angeles, California, her first-year seminar was an unanticipated positive experience. “When I was choosing my first-year seminar, my first choice was God, Free Will, and Morality, and I really wanted it. It sounded so cool. My second choice, which was kind of meh, was Chinese Diasporic Communities. I can’t remember what I put down for my third choice. Because I made my selection so late, I ended up getting my second choice. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but I ended up loving it. What made it great was the people. Most of the other students were Chinese and also ended up taking Chinese language, like me. Through the class, I ended up making my best friends!”

Picnic on Skinner Green, Convocation 2018
Picnic on Skinner Green, Convocation 2018

Views from the crowd

Gillian Braun ’22, from the Chicago area in Illinois, provided the final response to my question. “My unexpected positive experience at Mount Holyoke is that, in seeing how different we all are, I really became secure and confident in myself. Because if everyone views uniqueness as a positive thing, then there’s no pressure to ‘follow the crowd.’”

Moving to a new community, far from the support systems and rhythms of home, can certainly be emotionally stressful and taxing. But it can also lead to the discovery of a new home. Whether you completed your first semester last month or years ago, you are always MoHome.

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Photo at top: members of the class of 2022, Convocation 2018

Nina Larbi ’22 hails from the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania. She is a prospective double major in history and environmental studies. She is currently involved in the Mount Holyoke chapter of Amnesty International and is a staff writer for the op-ed section of the Mount Holyoke News.
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