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Finding Myself at One Wellesley Summer MAG
I was more than a little nervous entering Wellesley’s campus this past June, considering I had never been away from home for more than three consecutive days … much less an entire month … much less by myself. Yet, my parents assured me again and again that it would be memorable, exciting, and, as my dad not-so-subtly phrased it, “the best summer of my life.”
So, pushing aside my doubts, I decided to blindly follow their advice and spend four weeks in a place I’d never been with people I’d never met. Looking back, I’m beyond happy that I did. My dad was right – it truly was the best summer of my life.
One of my favorite souvenirs is a breathtaking photo of the Lake Waban sunset – mainly because I took it of myself, by myself. In this seemingly trivial accomplishment, I discovered that even if I’m alone, even if I’m completely out of my comfort zone, even if I’m 700 miles from everything I know, I can still accomplish and succeed and create because I have me, and that’s enough.
Over those four weeks at Wellesley I didn’t just learn to rely on myself, however; I also learned to open up to others, which resulted in meaningful relationships with so many different people, but one in particular: Keeva.
On the first day, I walked out of my dorm with my parents and passed a girl who was alone, looking a little lost. Conditioned from years of high school, I put my head down, avoided eye contact, and kept walking – that is, until my dad urged me to ask her if she needed directions. She introduced herself as Keeva and it turned out we were heading to the same place, so I summoned up some courage and asked her to join.
Flash forward a few weeks, after countless walks to The Ville, countless shared meals in Lulu, countless sunset-viewings at the lake and countless other adventures, Keeva and I stood in the MIT Art Museum after exploring Cambridge and took a photo – one of my favorite photos with one of my favorite people.
Being in such a welcoming and accepting environment filled with such caring people allowed me to shed any worry of awkwardness or rejection, and, instead, find the courage within myself to reach out to people and form friendships which I will forever cherish.
Every night after dinner, I walked back to my dorm blasting music in my headphones and taking in the beauty of Wellesley’s campus – the awesome architecture and the serene nature. What a sight to see every night!
In addition to my nightly walks, I developed another routine of post-meal tea with Keeva. Every weekday we talked about our classes, every Saturday we excitedly discussed our excursions, and every Sunday we congratulated each other for managing to finish all of our homework. A pretty good way to end each equally amazing day!
Because the program ran from the end of June to the end of July, I was able to experience Independence Day in Massachusetts, surrounded by the very place I learned about in U.S. History. Of the many activities Wellesley offered on the 4th, my favorite was undoubtedly the fireworks display in the nearby town of Needham.
I watched a display with my family every year on the 4th back in Ohio, so the fireworks were a nice reminder of home even though I was far from it. Plus, a lot of the international students had never seen fireworks, so I got to experience their first time witnessing an American tradition. Needless to say, the look on their faces was priceless when the first firework lit up the sky!
On one of our weekly excursions, I walked around Cambridge, MA – a city unlike any other – with my camera and documented some of its best and most interesting aspects. Obviously, I gravitated towards the Charles River, but my favorite shots ended up being of the traffic signal poles at the crosswalks. My personal favorites were two poles, emblazoned with stickers reading “Empathize. We are all floating in space” and “Facts not Fascism.”
Ah, and good ol’ Pom Hall. Be it orientation day ice-breakers, common room cram sessions, dorm-room movie-watching, or hallway sunrise and sunset views, some of my favorite memories of the summer happened there. Undoubtedly, my favorite memory of Pom was attempting to study with my friends on the last night of the program in the 2nd floor common room. We all had exams we should’ve been studying for, but, instead, we went to the common room and stayed there for hours talking, sharing music, reminiscing on our shared adventures, and wishing we had more time together.
Artwork played a major role in my time at Wellesley, too. Whether it was analyzing different pieces of art in my memoir class, strolling the halls of the Harvard and MIT Art Museums, visiting Wellesley’s own Davis Museum, or creating my own through photos and writing, my experience was filled with art. Walking through the Harvard Art Museum in Cambridge, Keeva and I were struck by many of the paintings.
In the Political Science wing of Pendleton –where I attended my Studies in Memoir class – there were shelves and shelves of free books! I ended up grabbing two of them: one on JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and one on Alexander Hamilton!
On some of my frequent walks to the Starbucks in The Ville, I stopped into the Wellesley Bookstore before I got my coffee. I swear, I could spend hours in that place! I captured my favorite buy: a book dedicated to Sylvia Plath poems. The next day, I brought one of my favorites to my Studies in Memoir class to analyze. The girls – along with the amazingly intelligent professor – were so supportive and kind; they created the perfect environment for me to feel comfortable enough to unashamedly voice my opinion and views.
After the last class, we all took a picture in front of Pendleton and vowed to keep in touch. With me from Ohio, one girl from California, one girl from Japan, and the rest from China, we all learned so much about our different lives and our different cultures – eventually realizing that we’re all pretty similar, after all.
Admittedly, I missed my family and the prospect of seeing them in 24 hours filled me with excitement, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness. I knew that the girls – the amazingly strong, beautiful, intelligent, and capable girls – I was with constantly for the past four weeks would soon be scattered around the world.
My best friend was going home to Boulder, Colorado, my roommate to Wuhan, China, my tennis partner to Tokyo, Japan, my photography buddy to Madrid, Spain – and me to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Sitting at the lake, I remember feeling so grateful that I listened to my dad’s advice and came to Wellesley, the place where I studied for hours, where I met one of my best friends, where I interacted with immensely intelligent and creative women, where I felt at home, and ultimately, where I found myself.