After a week of intense planning and setup, 40-some orientation staff stationed themselves around campus ready to welcome hundreds of first year students on an August afternoon. Who could know what exactly the next weekend would bring? But when we took all the decorations down and cleaned up the O-Show, we were a little sad to be done.
About a year ago the Drama Ministries Ensemble sleepily got on an airplane in Sioux Falls, then another in Chicago, and another in Munich, finally landing in the small European country of Albania. The eleven of us had only been working together as a team since August. And now, we were halfway across the world in a country where we barely knew how to say ç’kemi (hello) or mirupafshim (goodbye)! And of course, by the time we got home it had been one of the best trips of my life.
A year before that, 20 of us had piled into two white 15-passenger vans en route to Opelousas, Louisiana. Our SSP team had known each other for less than six weeks. At the end of 10 days of spring break though, after bonding over hot and humid days scraping paint, tutoring, and eating delicious meals served by community members, we felt more like family than we thought was possible.
A new group of friends meets to study for an upcoming exam. Third South Fern makes a random trip to Blue Bunny. A brother and sister wing play lawn games on the green together. Your discipleship group prays over your stressful week.
Northwestern is this crazy environment for friendships. People you don’t know at the beginning of a semester or the beginning of your college career can become some of your best friends in a snap. I’ve found my people time and time again, especially when I least expected it. It wasn’t just in the big trips I took. It was also in the day-to-day stuff: meals, class, homework, practice, etc.
It’s this that I’m currently missing the most about living on campus. There’s been lots of research into the benefit of being part of something bigger than oneself and the inherent desire to belong. It’s no joke, we can’t do life alone. We need the support of other people. Once I graduate, I know I’ll miss being part of a community where such intense and genuine connection to others is encouraged.
So take advantage of this while you can, current NWC students. And if you’re a prospective student, look forward to it because the friends you encounter at this place will become your favorite part. Don’t be afraid to find your people. Don’t be afraid to love them hard.