That person is me, pre and post-Mississippi College after just one semester. I'm still pale despite all my time sunbathing on the quad, but that's besides the point.
My first semester here was... indescribable? Explosive? A mad tea party full of unparalleled delight? I came not knowing what to expect from this place but I never dreamed that I would end up where I am now. The girl that existed this past summer was lonely and growing a bit too cynical for her own good. Now, I'm happy to say that she is full of light and love, determination and hope for the future.
Any new place is scary at first and MC is no exception. I said goodbye to my parents that first day, with tears in my eyes and tightness in my heart, terrified at the prospect of having to start from scratch. God knew what He was doing though. Within a few hours of arriving on campus I was attending a Welcome Week event that pushed me together with a group of girls that I now count among my best friends.
Within a month, I was seeing friendly smiles and faces everywhere I went and I had a reputation for being "that girl who smiles at everything." (No, really, I met a girl one day who said she recognized me because I walked around grinning all the time). Rush was upon me and I decided to take yet another leap of faith and jump into it head-on.
Everyone told me it would be a time commitment, especially once I pledged, but nobody told me how close you get to everyone involved. They didn't tell me about the incredible, invisible bonds of unity that now join me together with my pledge class after we were pushed together every day and learned to love each other deeply.
I'm not telling you whether to rush or not when you go to college, but I stand firm in saying that it was one of the best decisions of my life. If I'm in trouble, struggling, or even just needing someone to hang out with, I can pick up my phone and call any one of my sisters (or brothers) and they will come right away. My tribe (the MC equivalent of a sorority) gave me a close-knit group of friends that I may never have met if we weren't in the tribe together. It gave me my Big, Elizabeth, who helped me through all the highs and lows that came with rush and school and who became one of my favorite people on the planet. Best of all, it gave me a sense of self-worth and taught me to see myself as God sees me, as a unique treasure with a definite purpose in life.
The rest is a blur of thoughtful classes, midnight snack runs, and late-night conversations with my friends and "sisters", but it's a beautiful blur all the same. My first semester at MC was a joyful time where I let myself free with reckless abandon. I learned to love myself and love others, to double the capacity in my heart for people, and to push myself on to do things I never thought possible. I laughed and cried (usually happy tears), prayed and went adventuring, and I will always look back on that first semester with a smile.
My advice is to learn to let go and open yourself up to new experiences and new people. Don't be afraid to be the first person to say hello or to go to a free event, because you never know who you're going to meet and what will happen next. Ask questions, get a campus map, and walk around the whole thing before classes start so you can become more familiar with it. College life is what you make it, good or bad, so while MC gives you every opportunity to have a great time, ultimately it's up to you.
Stay classy, friends, and stay fearless.