What to Expect Freshman Year

So it’s your first year of college, huh? You’ve come to the right place.

This time last year I was in the same boat as you. I knew what dorm I’d be living in, what my class schedule looked like, and who my roommate would be. (Hadn’t met her yet, but we’d talked quite a bit over Facebook.) We were both excited, but also a little nervous. We had hopes for the year, hopes for friendships and new experiences, but there were also a few things we were unsure of.

I knew quite a few people going into college; my roommate only knew me.  I don’t think either of us had any idea of the amazing relationships God had in store.

I wondered what classes would be like, who I would meet, and what community ACTUALLY looked like at Northwestern. Growing up in Orange City, I had formed for myself an idea of what life at NWC was like. But let me tell you, there’s a big difference between observing something and actually experiencing it.

If this fall will be your first semester on campus, get excited!

College very well may be one of the best experiences of your life. Remember that college is what you make of it. Choose to make the best of the opportunities you find. Invest in those around you. Spend time in God’s Word. And remember─it’s okay to be a little nervous. College is a big transition.

If you’re wondering what to expect at Northwestern, I’m here to help you out. I can’t say your experience will be the same as mine, or that we’ll see eye to eye on everything, but I can give you a little glimpse into my perspective.

Here are a few questions you might have, and the answers I’ve found this past year:

What’s it like to have a roommate?

Honestly─it depends on the roommate. Your room is no longer just your room─it’s also their room. You’re sharing a living space with this person, so put in the effort to make it work. Don’t ignore them. Take the time to get to know them. Understand that you might not share the same interests. Your roommate may come to be your best friend, or they might not─either is fine. When it comes to having a roommate, consider the characteristics you want in a roommate and emulate those yourself. Show respect and remember that in any relationship, communication is key. Talk early about expectations and what’s okay. Set boundaries and respect those boundaries.

Having a roommate can be one of the best experiences of your life. Don’t make assumptions early on, and keep an open mind to what the year might hold.

Check out my personal blog for more tips on Getting To Know Your College Roommate.

How much homework will I have?

Again, it all depends. It depends on your class load and your chosen major. It’s a safe bet to say that most nights will be filled with homework. Some days will be filled with homework. Even some weekends will be filled with homework. But know that not every week is the same. You might have two tests one week and work non-stop, or you might have a week where you’ve got a smaller-than-normal load. Don’t stress too much the first few weeks of school. I promise, sooner or later you’ll get into the swing of things and realize that everything’s going to be okay.

If you’re anything like me, your first day of classes will be very OVERWHELMING. In college, most professors hand out the semester’s syllabus on the first day of class. This means you’ll know when tests will be given and when homework will be due for the whole semester. Opposed to high school, you’ll have access to everything, and seeing it all laid out before you might be pretty intimidating. Take a deep breath and take things as they come. Look ahead so you know what’s coming, but don’t let the bulk of it all stress you out.

Can I study AND have a job?

Yes! Last year I worked at the library circulation desk, called for admissions, wrote for the Beacon, and was a student assistant. If you’re able to manage your time, you can very easily study and find time to work. Side note: You’re going to want the money.

What does a typical day of school look like?

Most classes are every other day. If you have a class on Monday, you’ll also have it on Wednesday and Friday. These classes are typically an hour long. If you have a class on Tuesday, you’ll also meet on Thursday. These classes are typically an hour and a half long.

In high school classes ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. In college, however, you might not have class until 11:50 a.m., or your whole day of classes might be done by 11:50. A typical day might have around two or three classes. If you’re doing the math, you’ll realize that you’re left with a lot of extra time. Chances are there’ll be semesters where you have hours between classes to go and do what you like. (Hate to break it to ya, but it’s probably going to be homework related.) You might go to the library to study, your dorm room to sleep, or the caf to eat. Or you might just go and hang out with friends. That’s the cool thing about living on campus─you’re living with friends 24/7.

You might go the the RSC (fitness center) to work out or play ping pong with friends, you might just hang out in your dorm room, or you might play volleyball outside on the campus green.

Chapel is required?

Chapel is held consistently on Tuesdays for one hour and on Fridays for 30 minutes. This past year the college went through some changes regarding the number of chapel credits required and the number of times it would be held throughout the week.

Yes, you’re required to get 28 Christian formation credits per semester, but that’s out of 62 possible credits from chapel alone. Throughout the semester you’ll find other opportunities and events that count towards those credits. So no, you don’t have to go to chapel every time it’s held. There will be times you might just want to study for a test instead. But when you are in chapel─listen to the speaker, don’t sleep. Sing the songs, don’t text your friends. Chapel is a place to come together as a campus community to lift our praises to the Lord. Please don’t disrespect it for those who want to worship.

This year we’ll also have a new Director of Christian Formation and a new Director of Worship. From what I hear of these guys, this is gonna be a pretty great year.

Where do I even start making friends?

Chances are, you’ve had many of the same friends since elementary school. And chances are, they’re not following you to college. Some of you will come to campus knowing absolutely no one. I’m here to tell you that Northwestern is full of some pretty great people, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that you'll find someone to connect with.

Be open to conversation. Be willing to put yourself out there and say hi to someone. The first thing I told one of my best friends was that I liked her hair. By the time orientation weekend was over, I knew I had made a lifelong friend. Go to different events and meet different people. Invest in the lives of those on your wing. Be present and be yourself. You don’t have to put up a front in college.

Okay, the big question. What is community at NWC really like?

Northwestern is one big, encouraging community─and that’s really cool, but beyond that there are smaller communities within NWC that together make up the heart and soul of the campus. I found community on my wing and in my group of friends. These are the people I spend the most time with. These are the ones who pray with me and for me, who eat meals with me. These are the ones who simply walk life with me. Others might find community on their sports team or in their academic department. Some might find community in their RUSH group or in the band. What’s special is that because each community is interconnected, you will feel at home in any of them. And you can be a part of any of them. Together they make up the campus community of Northwestern.

So there you have it, my friends! A little taste of what’s ahead this coming year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back onto campus. As cliche as it sounds, it’s the community─and the people within that community. I can’t wait for you to experience it yourself.


Boker Tov

This year I have had the opportunity to take Hebrew here at Northwestern. The one and only Dr. Mead was the one to lead my classmates and me through this journey. The year has been full of learning experiences, such as learning Hebrew vocab words, grammar and translations.

The course is focused on Biblical Hebrew, so if you come up and ask me how to say something like “Happy Birthday”,  I won’t know. However, if you come up to me and ask me about Hebrew I can almost guarantee I will throw a boker tov at you, which means good morning.

Hebrew has its ups and downs for sure. One minute you're feeling super great and understanding everything and then the verbal system comes flying at you and you immediately retract to the fetal position. Overall, learning the ways of the Hebrew language has not been an easy experience, but it has been a fun one.

One of the assignments Dr. Mead had us do this second semester was to contact a local pastor in Orange City and help them on a sermon. We were to ask them to give us a passage they were going to preach on from the Old Testament. Our job was to dissect the passage and tell them everything there is to know about the original language of the section of scripture.

I reached out to Pastor Tim down at First Reformed Church. He gave me the passage from Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling with God. So over the course of the semester I spent a lot of time diving into the passage. I went straight to the original Hebrew text and started translating. After looking in depth at the Hebrew words, seeing how they fit together and deciphering their different meanings, I went straight for the commentaries. There I found what other people have said about the Hebrew translation and compiled them together.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from Pastor Tim telling me he is preaching on the passage soon. I asked him if we could meet so I could tell him what I found to aid him in the preparation of his sermon. He then asked me if I would be willing to join him on the stage during the service to help him educate the congregation. I was rather scared at first not knowing what to think.

Even though I am a religion major and have hopes to one day be a pastor, I have never been on a stage during a service or done anything like this before. Nonetheless it was a phenomenal opportunity and I absolutely wanted to give it a try.

Early Sunday morning we had a chat and talked about how the service was going to go down. The service came and he preached for a while then called me up on stage. It ended up going well and it was such a great experience for someone wanting to go into ministry. The opportunity that Pastor Tim offered me affirmed my vocation in ministry. I am super grateful for the experience and the opportunity to be up on stage with him. 

Future RA: Day 1

I know the school year’s coming to the close, but I’ve gotta tell ya─I’m pretty pumped for next year. After spring break I found out that next year I’ll be an RA in Fern, and just this past week I finally found out what wing I’ll be living on.

Rumors had been spreading for quite some time that Thursday was “the day”, so the big reveal wasn’t a complete shock to me. We (being the future RAs) were also told to wear tennis shoes to our meeting that night for a “fun activity” [wink wink]. Emphasis on the [wink wink].

So around 9:00pm that night, all eight of the new 2016-2017 Fern RAs met up in our RD Lindsay’s apartment. We started off with a confidentiality agreement that we were told to read WORD for WORD and then sign.

I haven’t read very many confidentiality agreements in my life, so please take my critique with a grain of salt, but I had a pretty hard time following what that agreement was saying.

“This agreement signifies that the ‘employer’ who employs the ‘employee’ will provide employment to the ‘employee’should they choose to accept employment with the ‘employer’ who employs the ‘employee’”.

Something like that. I may or may not have skimmed over a few sentences. Which would explain to the other girls who were carefully reading the paper word for word why I jumped up and started running around the apartment.

At the bottom of the confidentiality agreement was the first clue to discovering our future wing. Hidden somewhere in the apartment was a piece of paper with my name on it. And I was determined to find it.

Did I find it? Sadly, no.

After a while Lindsay hinted at her coat pocket hanging on the door, and what would you know my note was in there!

The first clue led me to the circulation desk at the library where I work. [To the girl who stopped me to ask about a paper we’ve been assigned to write, I’m sorry I didn't stay around to answer all of your questions. I hope you understand.]

The second clue led me to a windmill off campus. [Off. Campus. Glad I had the tennis shoes for running.]

The third clue led me to my favorite professor’s office. My mom!

The fourth clue led me to my mailbox in the RSC.

The fifth clue led me back to my dorm room in search of my lovely roommate, who told me the next clue was hidden somewhere in our room. After finding the note in a random tennis shoe near my bed, I was sent back to my RD’s apartment─with the tennis shoe in hand.

Thus began my internal search as to which current RA the tennis shoe belonged to. 

After all of the future Fern RAs got back to the apartment, each with a shoe in hand, this year’s current RAs came in with the matching shoes. Then there were many, many [probably too many from me] screams of excitement as we realized whose wing we would be taking over.

Moment of truth here─what wing did I get? Fern 3rd South, in case you were wondering. Then we celebrated with cheesecake. Doesn’t get better than that kids. Doesn’t get better than that. 



"There is power in unity

As we love in our community

And live as Christ's body

As I am the thigh

And you are the knee


It is then

We begin

To show people

A glimpse of eternity."

On Friday, we had our first performance as a poetry club at the 2nd annual One Love, hosted by La Mosaic at the Old Factory. God has been so good through this process! 

The whole idea of this group poem started off about a month ago when I was writing a poem focusing on how I see community. After writing this poem, I thought, "I really want to share this poem in chapel." So I decided to text Rahn Franklin and ask him If I could say this poem for a chapel sometime this year. Unfortunately, everything was booked. He then asked me if I wanted to collaborate with La Mosaic for One Love. I thought about it and answered, "That would be great!" After reading his text, I started thinking about what we could do as a group for this event.  After a time, I peeked over the desk in the study lounge and shouted in a whisper to my friend Renju, who is a part of the SOAR (Step Out and Rise) Poetry club, “It would be so cool to do a group poem with  SOAR.  What do you think?" With a big old smile on her face she answered, "Let's do it!" After that, I gathered other people from our club, and it was official!

With only a few weeks until April 8th, we talked about our ideas and what we wanted to present as a group.

The poem we put together was based around the One Love event. I tried to organize regular meetings for the next couple of weeks as we talked about how we were going to set up this piece, what we wanted to write about, and how we could tie our poem into the concept of one love.

So we brainstormed and thought about doing a poem that would communicate to people our past struggles. Even though we have gone through different trials, we are still one body of Christ, loved by our Creator. Each person chose one word or phrase such as loneliness, fear of loss, lack of confidence, fear of failure or fear of being forgotten. These words were written on signs that hung from our necks. They represented areas where we each had struggled within our past. After we talked about some of the words, I just knew in my spirit that this piece was going to be powerful! 

The weeks went by, and we went outside one Sunday afternoon. It was so great to be able to soak up that beautiful sun. We shared what we wrote together as we laughed and enjoyed each other's presence. A couple of days later, on a Thursday afternoon, we walked through the whole performance for the first time!  As we walked through it, I knew that God was moving. Everything sounded absolutely beautiful as we spoke with confidence, as music played behind our vocals. With just one day before the actual performance, I had so much peace.

 When I think about it, I should have been frantic, but I had so much stillness, as I let God take the wheel rather than myself. God was the one to start this club through a simple idea, so I had to continue to trust Him through the process. Thank God I did!  As the week progressed and we walked through it, I thought, "We are ready, let's just do it!" 

So we walked through the piece, prayed beforehand, and performed that Friday night as my dream became a reality. 

This process taught me to never stop pursuing what God places in my heart. I almost gave up on this club! I remember wanting to meet one day but nobody could go. I knew that was a God moment because in my heart I wasn't right with God. So for an hour, I prayed in the prayer room instead of meeting. Thank God we didn't meet that day! Even through the hard times, I did not give up as I continued to pursue this call on my life!

Now I see how each and every person has grown, I see how I grow each time I perform, and I see how rising up can cast out fear.

There is so much beauty in action.  I believe faith kills fear and I desire to step out and rise in many other areas in my life.  Now that I started this club, I keep thinking, "Why not do it with a group of people? Why not grow together? Why keep this desire for myself?" God placed people in this club for a reason. Many of these members are soft spoken, a lot quieter, but have such powerful stories. Even though people see courage in me, I am just like these individuals. I just choose to not let fear stop me and to step out and rise to be the women I am created to be. 

So that Friday night, that's exactly what we did. I am so proud of each and every one of them. I realize that this is more than just me, God is moving. They may not realize it now, but they are beginning to soar and be free as they step out and rise for the King! 

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:31