>My Life Comes Full Circle

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Today was the first day of class…

I had been dreaming of going back to school for the past twenty years and the day I moved back to New Jersey, it became a viable possibility.  As much as I had fantasized about it in the past, the reality actually came into being quite precipitously. This past winter, I impulsively applied to the Visual Arts Management program at F.I.T., got accepted but in hindsight realized it was impossible for me to accomplish a full class load this year with my younger son still in his senior year of high school.  Unfortunately, the program required a four semester commitment; I was heartbroken but through a series of unrelated people and situations Rutgers appeared on my horizon.

I grew up in East Brunswick, New Jersey, almost right around the corner from Rutgers University, spending most of my free time hanging out with my Turkish friends who were undergraduates there. Back in those days, I couldn’t wait to get out of East Brunswick and Rutgers never made it to my list of schools.  The days I spent there were a part of a difficult and miserable past that I couldn’t wait to leave behind.

I applied to Rutgers in May with the idea of taking one Art History class and never thought beyond the thrill of getting more in-depth knowledge about something that had been my passion for most of my life.  The circumstances I found myself in turned out to be more than anything I could’ve imagined. First, I received an invitation to tea at the Dean of Douglass College’s house for women who qualify for the Bunting program, which is basically for those going back to school after a prolonged period of time.  After listening to the stories of current and past Bunting students, I realized my one class this semester could actually lead to something more substantial.  As it turned out, I got a peer advisor, a strong support group if I need any kind of help, and a  program where I belong in a school with 22,000 undergraduates.

Last week, we had orientation at Douglass College; it was almost a deja vu as I walked around the campus with my mentor trying to familiarize myself with my surroundings, most of which was actually the backdrop for my memories from a long time ago.  There was something missing this time though – the deep gut-wrenching loneliness and despair.  Just recognizing the absence of it brought on a lightness of being.  I was able to immerse myself fully in all the festivities and events. The Douglass Residential College Convocation at Vorhees Chapel when we got to meet the members of the Douglass community came as a big surprise for me since I didn’t even realize I was actually considered one of the new Douglass Students they were welcoming.

At the end of the ceremony, parents were asked to say ‘Goodbye’ to their kids, I realized then that I was part of the group that was to remain behind.  It was a strange and elating circumstance considering I was part of the other group being asked to leave with tears in my eyes as I walked out of my son’s orientation last year.

All the new information and feelings I had to sort through was almost dizzying.   At the end of the day I went back to my parents’ home excited about my  second college experience; I couldn’t help but go down memory lane and reminisce about the familiar halls we used to have parties and gatherings in and note the difference in my outlook today, about the same places.

Today, I went to my first class, loved every minute of it and left knowing that it is going to be so great.  They say youth is wasted on the young; I don’t know about youth but they may be right in regards to a college education straight out of high school.  How much more I am appreciating and reveling in it now that I have life experience…