By Jon Dusza, Managing Editor
In the weeks before myself and my friends went off to college, the bonfires and poker games we played were accompanied by conversations about preparing for school, like buying things for dorms, talking to roommates for the first time, drop-off dates, the typical beginning of college stuff. But none of that applied to me, as I was not going to be dorming, I was going to be living at home as a commuter student. And while I did not have to wish my parents and my home goodbye, saying goodbye to the people I had hung out with every day for years, knowing that they would no longer be living in the neighborhood, was still quite jarring.
Fast forward a couple of weeks into the school year, when the bonfires were lit again and the poker cards dealt again during October break, and I was talking to my high school friends for the first time since they left for school. They spoke passionately about their schools’ sports teams, about the nooks and crannies of their campuses, told stories of their roommates and floormates, and things of that sort. With me being a commuter who spent only a couple of hours a day on campus, I could not relate to those feelings, which made me feel a little jealous, but more importantly, desperately afraid that I was wasting my college experience. This was barely halfway through my first semester, so this was probably an overreaction, but it nevertheless caused me a great deal of stress at the time.
Between the start of the semester and those conversations with friends, I had a rough few weeks. Sitting in class during the first few weeks of classes and watching other people who knew each other from dorms and dining halls that I spent and would spend next to no time in, while I was sitting silent and alone, left to my own thoughts – it was an overwhelming feeling, like being thrown into the ocean with no flotation device. Perhaps that is a feeling that was exclusive to me, but I doubt it. As the weeks went on, that feeling eventually began to subside.
My main way of overcoming this was by getting involved on campus, by going to events and joining clubs, especially The Griffin (definitely not a plug). One gets familiar enough with their fellow students just by going to classes, but extracurriculars are where friendships and connections are actually formed. I was not doing these things during the first couple of weeks, but as I did more over the course of the school year(s), the feeling which I was jealous of my friends for having during October break began to grow within me.
The thing about this school is that it is small enough that by merely existing here, one can get to know it so much deeper. It is one of the biggest benefits of going to a school of this size, in my view. I wrote a metaphor a few sentences ago of feeling like I was thrown in the ocean, but, to build upon that metaphor, I have learned that that ocean is pretty calm, shallow and pretty easy to wade in. This student body is around 50% commuters, which is quite a large percentage, especially compared to other schools. That too is beneficial to the commuter, for the school community frankly does not operate as well as it does without them.
My reason for writing this is quite simple: I was worried, both before and during the early stages of my first semester, and did not have much of a reference point on which to base my expectations. I wish that I would have known what I know now in my early days at Canisius, it would have saved me a lot of stress and worry. But things tend to have a way of working themselves out, and the adjustment to college life is no exception.