My name is Leenda, and I am a freshman in Castleton University.
For some reason, the word “freshman” seems to have become politically incorrect, as opposed to “first-year.” I am not a fan of political correctness; besides, “freshman” is a great word.
In it one can feel the fear of a new place, the constantly getting lost and being found. One can laugh at how ridiculous we look with our lanyards around our necks. Who do we think we are, the FBI? But after all, that is the only way we have to keep track of our keys.
I chose to be a freshman; I could have been a “primo anno” instead, which means – a freshman, but in another language, on another continent, 4,000 miles away from Vermont; in Italy, my home country.
In fact, I am not only a freshman: I am an international freshman, a heart split in half by the Atlantic.
Being an international student and a freshman at the same time can feel a bit overwhelming and scary at times. Missing home is even worse when you don’t even know where home is anymore.
But damn, is it worth it.
That salty gap in my heart is not so forceful when you can fill it with sunsets, ink, footsteps and laughter. All of these miles and these hardships will never be comparable to the joy that fills me when I learn something new, or when I try to make some sense out of the constant language battle that goes on in my head, and it makes me laugh, and my friends laugh with me.
No degree of separation will ever compare to being appreciated and rewarded for working hard in a way that would never have happened in the place that I’ve always called home, until I found out that the world is my home.
I know that I will never drink enough to be satiated of my thirst for knowledge. I could read my whole life and that would not be enough. But I can travel, and that’s the greatest gift that mankind has.
In the meantime, I can laugh at my own confusion, embrace it and love it: there is so much more that needs to be found.
Take the challenge to go out there and explore.
The world is waiting for you!