Confessions of a Former Erskine Hater

Here’s a little secret about me: I used to hate Erskine and I would have rather licked a hobo’s foot than attend the college. AHHHHH. TRUTH BUBBLE. But there it is. I can never un-confess it. Before I get attacked for posting this on the Erskine student blog, let me try to explain myself. I’m guessing that a few questions are coming to mind. How could I ever hate Erskine? Why am I now at Erskine? Do I ever regret going to Erskine?

  1. Why did I hate Erskine? It all began 7 years when I first moved to South Caroline. Since I was a bratty 10 year old, I made up my mind to hate everything in South Carolina because it was never going to be my home. Over time, my intention to hate everything weakened as I met awesome friends, went to an awesome school, attended an awesome church, and had many awesome experiences. Although I started to enjoy everything around me, I never stopped disliking Erskine. I distanced myself so that I didn’t have to learn anything about the college. I didn’t want anything to do with Erskine because that’s where my dad works and I could never go somewhere where my dad works. That’s too close. That’s too dependent. I used to want to go to a college where I was completely on my own and where I completely left my friends and family for a new life. I wanted to go to a school that people would recognize whenever I told them about my life. Thus, Erskine was out of the picture of my life. Or so I thought…
  1. What could have happened to change my mind? Honestly, I can only say that God changed my mind, just as he changed my heart. I used to want to go to a different Christian college. That college had been my dream school for years; but as I visited people and classes there, I began to realize that I didn’t enjoy being there. For the sake of being polite, I won’t name the college, but I do want to say that it is a great college and I’m not trying to bash it. It just wasn’t the college for me. While I was still considering that college, I decided to apply to Erskine as a backup, in case I wasn’t able to go to any other college ever. Once I was accepted at Erskine, I decided to apply for the Presidential Scholarship. The fall of my senior year really opened my heart to choosing Erskine. My experience at the Semi-Finals helped me to envision spending four years of my life at Erskine and growing both mentally and spiritually there. I enrolled at Erskine in December and I got a free Ipad because I enrolled so early.
  1. My Erskine acceptance letter

    My Erskine acceptance letter

  1. This change of heart seems sudden, so now that I’m at Erskine, do I regret my decision? Has Erskine let me down? I’m gonna be honest: it really hasn’t. Sure, there have been times when I’ve been discouraged, stressed, lonely, etc. But those times are bound to happen at any school and there are so many good things about Erskine that outweigh the good. Studying is definitely not my favorite thing to do on Friday nights, but some of my favorite memories so far have been the times that my friends and I have goofed off while studying together. Also, I have absolutely loved living only thirty minutes away. This past weekend I was able to attend my high school’s homecoming football game and catch up with some old friends. I think that Erskine is a good place for me, because I can be as far away from my old life as I want. If I don’t want to see my parents on weekends, I totally don’t have to! But if I ever feel like eating a home-cooked meal and bumming some gas money off my ever-gracious daddy, then home is only a short drive away! I thought that I would avoid my daddy like the plague once I moved to Erskine, but I’ve visited his office at 11:00 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning (I’m such a daddy’s girl).

My main point is just this: if you’re reading this while trying to pick a college, don’t rule out the one that’s right under your nose until you’ve visited and experienced the culture and environment. Don’t judge a college just by hearing about it from a friend. You may miss out on a college that is absolutely perfect for you. It may be Erskine; it may not be Erskine. All I know is that I got a pretty sweet deal by coming here and I can’t believe that I fought against it for such a long time.

College: More Than Just School, Sleep, and Socializing

People have told me that there are three main elements of college: school, sleep, and a social life; I can only have 2/3. When I first heard that, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Depressing, yes, but I thought it was such a profound statement. I used to run through different combinations in my head. Maybe I’ll have school and a social life, but no sleep. Or maybe I’ll have school and sleep, but no social life. I didn’t know what to expect, so I couldn’t wait to find out what my life would be like at college.

I’ve been in school for 2 1/2 weeks and I’m gonna go ahead and tell it like it is. The only element of the three that I have is school, and I barely have school. Next week is the week of tests for 2 out of my 4 classes, so this weekend is going to be one giant cram session of information. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining about my schoolwork. I’m one of the rare kids who actually finds pleasure in doing homework, but I also find joy in getting to bed earlier than 2 and being able to spend quality time with my friends.

So where did those two elements go? I mean, obviously I haven’t only done school all this time, so what’s a good picture of my sleep schedule and social life?

Sleep: HA. Where do I begin? Every night, I go with my friends, Grace and Daria, to the Watkins Student Center and study. We always go straight back to our dorm once we’ve finished our work, so there’s absolutely no dawdling (other than the occasional shove into a tree)! I have only gone to bed before midnight twice since school started. Then I eventually fall asleep, only to wake up at 7 the next morning. Now this may not sound too bad, and I’m definitely blessed to be able to sleep this much. However, I get really grumpy and irritable when I get tired (my family can attest), and averaging 4-5 hours of sleep every night instead of the usual 7-9 hours that I used to get makes me pretty darn tired.

Social Life: Well, my idea of socializing is eating meals and studying with my friends. If I want time with my boyfriend, one of us makes the 30 minute drive to the other, and we study together. Honestly, I look at some of the students here and wonder they could possibly keep their grades up because they’re always goofing off together. Maybe I’m just jealous..  I should be thankful, though, because I get to go to church with friends and I get to be with people at RUF on Sundays! My life isn’t as pathetic as I make it seem.

I have been blessed with so many good things, even though my circumstances aren’t as ideal as I would like. God has really stretched my ability to love others, but He hasn’t given me more than I can handle. Yesterday I was really frustrated with a cocky guy in one of my classes and as hard I tried, I couldn’t force my heart to love him. I didn’t have a lot of homework to do that evening (surprisingly), so I was able to have some quiet time with God, which made a world of difference for my outlook on life. I read 1 Thessalonians 5, which talks about “putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet,” (verse 8) and I was so convicted. I realized how distracted and selfish I have become because I’ve been so centered on myself instead of on God.

Thus, my conclusion is this: It doesn’t matter whether I have sleep, a social life, or even school. If my heart isn’t satisfied in God, then I have nothing.If God isn’t glorified in my actions, then my actions are worthless. If my insecurities and pride get in the way of my faith and love, then I need to die to myself and find life in God.

My new goal in college can be summed up by Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God’s Gift of Grace

It has been exactly two weeks since I left my home and entered a new life at Erskine. I haven’t quite gotten homesick yet, but there are a few things about my home that I didn’t start cherishing until I left. In fact, if someone asked me what the hardest thing about college has been so far, I wouldn’t say it’s been the workload or the classes or even the communal bathrooms. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things have taken a while to adjust to, but they definitely haven’t been the hardest thing to get used to. The biggest trial that I have had to overcome is the loneliness that comes from not being surrounded by the close friendships that I had at home. I’m not gonna lie. It’s hard to go to a college where you don’t know anyone, even if it’s only 30 minutes away. It’s hard to continually push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to meet people while feeling pressured to find your best friend in the crowd. It’s hard to hold onto the hope that you will make lifelong friends even though you’re not as outgoing as others around you. 

I got so lonely and frustrated during the first few days. I mean, obviously you can’t rush into a close friendship. Friendships grow over time. But I just wanted one good friend with whom I could laugh and talk and be myself around. I prayed to God for days to either send me a friend like that or to give me the strength to keep my head up and continue to hope in His plan. Thankfully, He answered both prayers! He sent me an awesome girl by the name of Grace.

Isn't she a cutie? ;)

Isn’t she a cutie? ;)

She’s funny, crazy, wise, and really in love with God. We hit it off as soon as we started talking! At first, we bonded over the shared qualities of our boyfriends, but we soon progressed to becoming really good friends in a matter of hours and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Well, not really.. We aren’t always together. However, we try to eat meals together; we share two classes together; we even study together in the evenings!

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“Studying” = Sleeping and sad selfies

I’m so thankful for her. Her sweet spirit always warms my heart, plus she’s really fun to pick on! For example, we have this game at the cafeteria where we try to steal each other’s plate and take them to conveyor belt for the dirty dishes. I normally win, but I have a slight advantage, being a ninja and all. 

So in conclusion, I’ve been so blessed by God in several aspects of my life. However, the biggest blessing that He’s recently given me is the gift of Grace as a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing friend. I’m so excited to seeing what the future holds for us and our friendship. She might even convince me to give horseback riding a try! 

RUF– First Impressions

Today I celebrated the last day of the first weekend after my first week of class at Erskine and what better way to celebrate than by going to RUF at the Barn? For those of you who don’t know, RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) is a nationwide Christian organization for college students. Here at Erskine, RUF meets on Sundays at 5:30 at a barn behind the RUF minister, Paul Patrick’s house. Tonight was my first RUF session as a college student and I have to say that it was pretty great, despite the sweltering heat and the scratchy hay bales. That’s right. The barn was filled with rows of hay bales for the students to sit on while eating dinner or during the service. I’m not some sissy girl who hates to venture outdoors, but there is just something disagreeable about hay digging into your thighs when you’re trying to learn about God. But I digress..

My awesome friend, Seth Gurley, gave me a ride to the Barn. He’s the absolute best! We went to the same church in high school and we have been friends ever since. Seth’s only flaw is that he is a baseball player, but I try not to hold that against him. ;)

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Here’s an old, awkward picture of us together. It’s the only one I could find. :P

 Paul Patrick brilliantly starts RUF sessions at the Barn with something that all college kids love and need: food. Fifteen minutes after I arrived, volunteer students served us hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, cookies, lemonade, sweet tea, and water. To sum everything up, my tummy was very happy. :) 

The everlasting food line

The everlasting food line

After dinner, the service started and it was INCREDIBLE. We sang both old hymns such as Nothing But The Blood, Come Thou Fount, Jesus I My Cross Have Taken and newer songs like Isaiah 43. I absolutely love those songs and the setting of singing in a barn with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ was absolutely perfect. Singing was definitely my favorite part of RUF tonight, but the lesson was also pretty tops. Paul Patrick introduced the book of James and gave some background information about the author.The lesson was really interesting because I have studied the Bible all my life and I had never learned any of the things that Paul Patrick talked about. 

For example, I hadn’t realized that James, the brother of Jesus, had doubted Jesus’ power and glory during His time on earth. However, after His death on the cross, James repented and became one of the most well-known apostles of Jesus. His story gives me so much hope for the ones I know who are so skeptical and opposed to Christianity. It’s so easy to forget that God is in control of everything in our lives and that He has a plan for all of us. However James is a testimony to all of us that God can change anyone’s heart. 

So that’s a brief recap of my first real experience with Erskine’s RUF. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year will turn out! 

Moving In: A Whirlwind of Adventure

As the campus settles down and starts to recuperate from yet another busy move-in day, I am sitting on my spankin new bungee chair in my somewhat newish dorm room with my super new roommate, Dominique, and running through everything that I did today. It was totally crazy, from the time I woke up at 6:30 to finish packing odds and ends, to arriving at Carnegie and being surrounded by an army of Busy Bees ( upperclassmen who volunteered to help with Orientation), to running around attending countless meetings and group projects, to dressing up like a flapper and getting a tutorial on how to swing dance. I’m pretty sure I need to invest in a bucket that I can fill with ice for my feet…

My dad finished packing our mini van and my Subaru with all of my stuff around 8 o’clock in the morning, all the while giving me skeptical eyes for possibly overpacking. I finally made it to Carnegie around 9 o’clock. People had both cars unpacked and everything in my room by 9:05. Seriously, I barely had time to register myself and collect a bundle of papers before they had everything in my room. It was pretty darn impressive. From there, it was just a matter of unpacking my stuff. Easy, right? HA. SIKE.

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Waiting to unpack the cars

I had barely gotten my bed made when I had to rush over across campus to a 10 minute interview for a Student Ambassador job. Student Ambassadors get to take prospective students on tours, help out with events, and host prospective students in their rooms. I love meeting new people, so I’m really excited that I got to apply! So anyway, I went to the interview, returned to my room and then had to go to lunch 30 minutes later. I barely unpacked my school supplies..

After lunch, I picked up my Ipad from the Admissions Staff (a little gift incentive for enrolling early), dropped it off in my room, and then headed over to a Welcome Session with Erskine’s new president, Dr. Kooistra. After we were welcomed, the students were split into 12 Orientation groups and headed out to take an infinite number of pictures in a sweltering heat while the parents got to stay in the air-conditioned room for a Family Meeting. Lucky ducks..

The torture finally ended and the groups separated with the duty of making a banner, team name, and cheer within the span of 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes were up, we performed our cheers in front of people. Some groups had cool cheers. My group did not.. Haha But that’s okay! Not everyone can be winners.

The last event before families were supposed to leave was the President’s Reception and Signing of the Tablecloth. I was a little skeptical at first, not to mention hot, sweaty, and exhausted. However, there were cookies and the tablecloth was actually kinda cool.

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There’s my name :)

Finally, my family left and I had a few minutes of down time before the soiree started. The soiree is an Erskine tradition. Every moving day, there’s a themed dinner and a dance held for the freshman girls and guys. This year’s theme was the Roaring 20’s. I borrowed my good friend’s prom dress and bought some long pearls, so I was set.

Lookin fly in 20's guise

Lookin fly in 20’s guise

All of the girls dress up and wait upstairs until their name is called. Once their name is called, a O-Staff male student will escort you down the stairs while you pray that you don’t trip on your heels and hand you off to a freshman guy at the front of the line. Then the freshman guy will walk you arm-in-arm down to the Mall where tables and chairs are set up for dinner. I won’t go into details, but I did learn that I will still have an awesome time, even if my date forgets my name and if we have completely opposite personalities. After dinner, we learned to swing dance and then later I made it back to my dorm where I finally finished unpacking at 10.

So that’s basically a long summary of what I did today! Want some pictures of my dorm room?

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My beautiful roommate and me :)

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My desk area :)

The Countdown for College

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I leave my comfortable, small-town environment for an unfamiliar, smaller-town environment. 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I say goodbye to my family, my friends, and my church and say hello to new friends who will become my new family and a new church where I will make new friends. 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I go from being a superior senior to a feeble freshman.

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I share my room with another person for the first time in my life. 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until all my anxious fears and anticipations become realities. 

 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I move in to Erskine College. 

 

If you were to be one of the hundreds of people who asked me if I was excited to leave my home and start a new life at college, I would easily reply with a hearty “Oh, yes!” But in my mind (and somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach), there is something uneasy and gray that keeps me from bubbling up like some of the other incoming freshman that I have met. I can’t explain why it exists. Perhaps it stems from the uncertainty of whether I will succeed in my schoolwork, or the fear of forcing myself into unknown terrain in order to make new friends, or the inevitable pang of homesickness that I will get despite the 30 mile proximity of my house. Regardless of the reason, I have decided to label the sensation as the Pre-Beginning Jitters, or, PBJ’s.

 

Any person who has ever been a starter for a game, or participated in a music program, or has had the opening line to a play can empathize with me after I explain the Pre-Beginning Jitters. Since I played church basketball (I know, I’m hardcore) for 6 years, my experiences are perfect examples of the PBJ’s.

Throwback to my 9th grade basketball team (I'm the four-eyed #20)

Throwback to my 9th grade basketball team (I’m the four-eyed #20)

Here’s a timeline of my emotions and thoughts as a basketball game approaches: (I was the starting point guard, for the record)

  • 1 Week Before The Game: I know there’s a game next week and that I can’t schedule anything that night. No big deal. I can’t wait to practice tonight!
  • 1 Day Before The Game: All of my teammates are freaking out, but it’s not big deal! Even if we don’t win, it’ll still be fun to play.
  • 30 Minutes Before The Game: Okay, I’m starting to get nervous, but I’m sure everything will be fine! I just need to focus on the here and now.
  • 10 Seconds Before The Whistle Blows: OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. I’m so nervous and anxious that I think I might actually throw up on the court. How embarrassing would that be? Oh man.. if I screw up right now, I’ll never live it down and the rest of the game will be ruined. What if I miss the ball? What if the other team scores a point? What if someone breaks their nose and we have to cancel? I think I’m gonna be sick..

Have a virtual Pokemon face cookie as a reward for surviving the danger zone of my crazed mind and continuing to read this post. ;) IMG_1379

 

Back to my point, that timeline of emotions is exactly how I had been feeling about college. I was nonchalant and even indifferent about leaving for college and then suddenly, BAM. I graduated from high school and I had to start thinking about what going to college actually entailed. Now I’m at that 10 seconds point before the ball is tossed up. The game hasn’t quite started yet and I don’t know what to expect from myself or the players around me. The one thing that I do know is this: thousands of people have felt the exact same way that I am feeling right now, and not only did they survive college, but it was one of the best experiences of their lives.

So bring it on, Erskine! I’m ready to handle anything that you throw at me! There may be some nervous puking, and I will probably cry at some point, but I’m ready to take on the challenge!

P.S. Stay alert, because I’ll be sharing all of my crazy, exciting stories with you throughout the year!