Senior revisits ‘freshman’ feel

New culture exhilarating for correspondent

New culture ‘exhilarating’ for correspondent

Rita Forbes

I don’t know anyone. Do I belong here? Will I be behind in certain subjects? What does the coming semester hold for me? What about the next few years?

These are typical freshman worries. I suffered them in full force four years ago, when I began my first freshman year – at Missouri Southern State University.

In my junior year, I joined the incoming class of Multimedia and Communication students at the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, and the freshman worries returned. Only this time, they had multiplied to include such agonizing questions as “Is my German good enough?” “Will I understand anything my professors say?” “Will my classmates accept me, or am I doomed to be the odd one out?”

Consumed with these worries, it took me a while to realize that the German students around me were just as apprehensive as I was. Granted, they were not in a foreign country, but the environment was just as new to them as it was to me, and they did not know what to expect either. And while their adjustments may have been a little smoother than mine, we all ended up feeling comfortable.

This week marks the start of my third “freshman year,” as I begin yet another new course of study at a new university. The fall semester at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences will begin on Monday.

Choosing classes and finding classrooms, getting acquainted with fellow students and adapting to new teaching styles – it’s starting all over again. And those darn freshman jitters are back.

The fears aren’t quite the same, though. In my calmer, saner moments, I remember that I have already survived two freshman years and feel confident that I can tackle a third.

In the next year, I hope to improve my German, prepare for grad school, learn new skills, make good friends, and see more of Europe. But try as I may to get rid of my American accent, read all the books in the library and complete the equivalent of 30 credit hours in one semester, sheer will-power can only get me so far. It is impossible to accomplish everything.

Even if my plans disintegrate, I don’t have to fall apart.

New beginnings are almost always intimidating. We are anxious to succeed, whether according to our own or to someone else’s standards.

During this year, though, my success is my own. And it consists in perseverance, not in perfection.

[Editor’s note: Rita Forbes is spending this academic year studying in Germany. She is a senior mass communication and German major at Missouri Southern.]