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 ago when I first moved to South Carolina. 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.

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!

Something New

There’s a new restaurant in town.

It’s name is…

wait for it…

SASSY BUTTS!!!

Yeh, my thoughts exactly. But I’m impressed. As a business major, I find it funny how I’ve begun to see businesses in a completely different light than I did before I really delved into my major and I was just another bright-eyed consumer. They’ve been really spreading the word about their business with word of mouth and having a visual countdown on their door until the Grand Opening, which so happens to be today! It’s neat because I actually have gotten to see this business employ and use the various marketing techniques I’ve been learning in my business classes. This is a good sign cause obviously I’ve actually learned something. ha.

I’ve already heard my friends making comments about the food and the service and people are satisfied! Finally, there is another eating option in the great metropolis of Due West, SC. I’m looking forward to making new memories there with my friends next year.

I plan to go there for dinner tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes!

SASSY BUTTS…sorry, I still can’t get over the name…

Back at Erskine

Enjoying a meal at a local "Mom and Pop" restaurant in the great metropolis of Belton shortly after my return.

It’s been rather a while since I wrote last, probably because I’ve been busy transitioning from “Spain life” back into  life at Erskine—a transition that has kept my time happily filled with catch-up coffee dates, time spent getting to know freshmen I only briefly met during fall orientation, and moving back into the dorm. There certainly are things about moving back to Erskine after having been abroad that are disorienting. (For one thing, I’m “the new kid” in some ways, while the freshmen now have a semester of Erskine history under their belt for which I was absent.) Overall, though, it’s been incredibly fun to jump back into the swing of things here in good ol’ Due West. And although lots of amazing conversations and times with friends have been had since I got back, one particular incident from this evening is what I’d like to share at the moment.

You see, as much as I loved Spain and wouldn’t trade the experiences I had there for the world, I also greatly missed Erskine, in large part because the community God has blessed me with here is so very special. Honestly, it took being away from Erskine for me to realize how truly amazing it is. Not because it’s a perfect school, nor because I’m always 100% happy every day here (I mean, we live in a fallen world), but because being far from home has shown me what an incredible blessing it is to be surrounded by so many encouraging friends who are all came to Erskine for the same reasons I did. Now, don’t get me wrong—there is quite a lot of ideological diversity on Erskine’s campus; and that’s a good thing! There’s a great contrast, however, between finding a handful of Christian friends in Spain and, at Erskine, being surrounded by a vast number of like-minded friends who challenge me, encourage me, and support me.

One fun January outing was an evening at the home of Erskine's Admissions Operations Coordinator (who also happens to be a fabulous cook and hostess)...

This evening, for example, I was wrestling inwardly with a bit of an existential crisis regarding my future calling (a crisis I would imagine not a few college students have experienced right around this time in their educational career).  I’ve always thought this was the vocation God was calling me to, but now I don’t even know…and maybe this isn’t what I’m meant to do for reasons x, y, z…but if it’s not, then what IS He calling me to? Etc., etc. Like a badly authored bit of stream of consciousness writing, these thoughts were racing through my head as I walked into my dorm a few hours ago to find an unsuspecting friend on sitting at the desk on lobby duty. Since I’m usually terrible at keeping whatever thoughts are consuming me bottled up, some of the aforementioned stream of incoherent thoughts and questions began to spill out.

Under Amanda's tutelage, we cooked a delicious meal together. Here are Rachel and Rebekah cutting up the potatoes.

So what did my friend—who happens to be a kind and insightful psychology major—do? She had me sit down and talk through my life plans and goals with her. And of course, since I’m at Erskine, I can already predict that this was one in a long series of conversations which I’ll doubtless have with various friends as I process and they advise, direct, and ask helpful questions. The simple fact that there are a large number of wise, well-adjusted, and caring individuals who will all listen as I babble and give me solid, Biblical advice in response is just a mind-boggling blessing. Living on a campus surrounded by friends who challenge, encourage, and care for me every day is such a delight. College is indeed a unique season of life. And like any other part of life, college is also largely what one makes of it. Erskine just happens to be an especially wonderful place in which to do that. “We always thank God for all of you…We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~1 Thessalonians 1:2-3.

The scrumptious dinner we made. And there isn't even a picture of the coffee-cake pound-cake we made for dessert. Yum.

Sick Days

I am absolutely loving my college experience here at Erskine. Even so, some things are just not the same at college as they are at home–one of which is getting sick.

Although being ill is never pleasant, being sick at college is, as I quickly discovered, generally bereft of those comforts provided at home by my mother’s solicitous care, sympathy, and medical advice. While I may be exempt from certain tasks (such as cleaning the kitchen or going to work) when I’m sick at home, no such luxury is available during the school year…unless, of course, I’m willing to miss a class. Which of course, I would never want to do, lest I miss key information that would leave my liberal arts education sorely lacking or *cough, might show up on a test.*

Consequently, even the common cold becomes a challenging burden when it descends upon one during the school year. Gone are the days of being handed chicken soup by the mother who then kindly sets up a vaporizer in the bedroom and buys another box of Sudafed PM. Instead, one must go to class, take tests, and work as best one can, despite a raging headache and running nose. Of course, I suppose that being sick as a college student is simply part of growing up since…well, when adults are sick (bar some highly contagious, debilitating illness), they simply carry on business as usual.

And, to be entirely fair, though there’s no place like home for the sick soul, friends here at Erskine are amazingly caring and helpful when one is sick. Last year, for example, when I was terribly ill with some flu-like ailment, replete with a high fever, my friend Amber essentially took on the role of mother for the week. She brought me food (since I wasn’t up to traveling anywhere to eat meals), checked on me frequently, and made sure I got air every once in a while. Another friend was kind enough to share the riches of her medicine cabinet with me, and I was feeling better far more quickly than I would have otherwise, thanks to the kind care of my friends.

Getting well, I’ve found, requires something which is a very rare commodity for the college study—namely, sleep. Since the struggle to balance living healthily, thriving academically, and having a social life is one which we all experience in life, I am amused by G.K. Chesterton’s remark that “[t]he trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.” Indeed, holistic health is no easy attainment. But if every aspect of life is interconnected (as the liberally-educated philosopher would argue), and if all of life is under the rule of a sovereign God, then what can better equip us for a life of balance than faithful adherence the principles of Scripture? Holistic health, here I come!

My How Things Have Changed…

Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any busier it did, but this semester, as busy as it may be, is going to be one of my best semesters yet.

Why, you ask?

Because of one word: CHANGE.

For once, I’m actually excited about a majority of  my classes. My schedule is full of new classes and new teachers and new opportunities to learn. Yes, I’m taking about 21 hours worth of curriculum, (No, that wasn’t a typo. I’m just a tad bit of an overachiever who is trying to decide whether or not to graduate early), but I am making the most of my time and enjoying learning in the process.

I’m involved in more leadership positions this year. Being able to truly contribute to making a difference in an organization has been very rewarding. Right now I’m in charge of heading up the committee for The Mirror, Erskine’s student newspaper. Long story short: we haven’t produced an issue since last year, I (aspiring broadcast journalist) want to bring back the paper but in an online format. I’ve got all these ideas rolling around in my head and I’m thrilled that I was picked to be in charge of figuring out how to best bring it back to Erskine’s campus.

Even greater than all of the above is the fact that I am seeing God do some pretty amazing things at Erskine through our ministries. A few years ago we didn’t have a joint worship service in which BCM, The Barn, FCA, and Gospel Choir, all join together to worship the Lord, but this year it’s happening soon! People who are lost are coming to know Christ. Those who know Christ are being strengthened in their faith. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and witness.

Change is not always a bad thing.

I believe change invites the opportunity for us to truly sit back and examine ourselves and the new situtations we find ourselves in on occasion. A change in classes and teachers has taught me that there are always different methods of learning a certain subject. Just because one professor did things a certain way, doesn’t mean that a new professor’s method isn’t just as effective. We get so used to the way things used to be and we forget that a fresh prospective is necessary for true progress. A change in leadership has taught me that sometimes we have to step up to the plate and make things happen. I noticed that we are lacking a venue for students to voice their opinions in a responsible way, therefore, I want to bring The Mirror back to Erskine. We all have opinions and a student newspaper is a great venue for students to report on issues that are current and relevant to us as a student body.  A change in the spiritual mindset of ministry leaders is, perhaps, the greates
t change I think this campus has seen. Who would of thought that leaders from different denominations and different worship styles could come together in such a big way? Back then it was unheard of and why? Do we not all serve the same God and want to see people come to the Kingdom?

Change doesn’t have to be as scary as we make it out to be at times.

It’s a word that births new opportunities to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives on this earth.