Thanks for the Memories: A Recap of My Freshman Year

Wow. My freshman year of college is quickly coming to an end. It’s really hard for me to believe that my first year of college is practically over. As I am writing this, exams start next week and then I move out. That is so crazy to me.

When I think about everything I have seen, experienced and overcome during my first year of college, my mind is overflowing with memories and emotions. There are so many things I have done over the past couple of months that it’s hard to remember and name them all. However, I will try my best to do so.

When I first got to college I lived with a roommate and two suitemates. In my previous journals, I mentioned I am an only child and that the thought of living with other people really freaked me out. I think I even wrote a whole journal about it—be sure to look back and read it. Anyway, living with my roommate and suitemates was definitely a unique experience, but after the first semester, I knew I wanted to live alone. Through many emails, meetings and a lot of hope, I managed to get my own room. This was the first time I have ever lived alone in my life. Living alone took some getting used to, but I can confidently say I love it and think I made the right decision for me.

Speaking of making difficult decisions, that is also something I faced during my freshman year.  Because I was basically living on my own, I was making all of own decisions all of the time. At first, I didn’t really know how to handle it, but I quickly learned I loved being in charge of myself. In college you have the power to make all of your own choices. Whether you succeed or fail is up to you and no one else.

This is something I love about college. I love being independent and proactive, and taking charge of my own education. I knew everything was up to me, so I wanted to try my best to do everything right. People always called me a “try hard,” so when I got to college, I decided to embrace it. Being a try hard worked for me during my first year of college. I was invited to join numerous honor societies, received a scholarship within my major and was recognized by Phi Kappa Phi for being in the top 1 percent of my class for my grades during the fall semester (I got a 4.0 GPA).

I’m not mentioning these things to brag about my accomplishments (though I am proud of them) but more to serve as motivation for prospective students who may read this. Working hard really does pay off in the long run. Sometimes it is hard to see when you feel like you have a million assignments due all in one week, but just do your best in everything and things will work out.

During my freshman year, I also learned a lot about myself, my passions and other people. As I mentioned before, I learned that I love being independent. I like making my own decisions and interpreting things in my own way. I really don’t like being told what to do. I like having guidance and pointers, but when it comes to working on something, I like to do it my own way. However, I also love learning, which is obviously an important aspect of college.

I have also realized my passion for writing. In high school, I only wrote academically (like research papers), which is very boring to me. It wasn’t until I got to college and began taking other writing courses that I realized how much I really enjoy it. I like writing about my own experiences and giving my viewpoint on things, like I do for this blog, and being a part of the Odyssey (a writing club on campus). But I also enjoy the media style of writing and listening to people’s stories and writing about their experiences. There is so much you can do and say in writing. I think it is one of the best forms of expression.

Lastly, I not only learned about myself but about other people as well. I learned that making friends can be hard and that it takes time. I also learned that it is OK to be alone and to feel comfortable being your own company. Over the course of my first year of college, I can honestly say I have made some true friends. I met people I could talk to, and I knew they would actually listen and care about what I was saying. Finding true friends is so important in college. It’s easy to put friendships in the back of your mind and only focus on assignments. Trust me I know—I did this a lot during my first semester. However, I learned that having some true friends is really important. Making yourself talk to new people can be hard, but I encourage you to do it anyway because the friendships you make in college have a huge impact on your overall experience.

As you can probably see, I learned a lot during my freshman year of college. The crazy thing is, I didn’t even mention everything. I would have to write a book to include every single thing I learned, experienced or just witnessed.

Going to college has given me more opportunities than I could have ever dreamed of. There are so many things I know I would not done if I had decided not to attend Longwood. I am truly grateful for everything I have learned and accomplished during my freshman year.

And it all started with My Life As A Freshman. I guess you could say it was the first club or organization that I became involved in at Longwood. I owe a lot of my growth and successes to this organization. If I weren’t in My Life As A Freshman, a story I wrote most likely would not have ended up in the alumni magazine. I am truly thankful for being able to be a part of the first My Life As A Freshman group, and the experiences and friendships I have formed because of it mean so much to me. Thank you.

Painting with a Pro: My Close Encounter with a Professional Artist

Have you ever had the opportunity to learn how to paint from a professional artist? With the help of Professor Alex Grabiec, a faculty scholar in the Cormier Honors College and the curator for the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, I am proud to say that I got this opportunity.

Professor Grabiec knows professional artist Morgan Everheart personally and was part of the team that brought some of her work to the LCVA for an exhibition this semester.

Artist Morgan Everheart, whose paintings were exhibited at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts this semester, conducted a painting workshop and tour of the exhibition for students in the Cormier Honors College.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Morgan agreed to host a paint night for the members of the Honors College. Meeting Morgan was an eye-opening experience. Actually being able to hear an artist’s thought process is truly special. (I had the opportunity to see Morgan’s artwork twice—the second time was when she gave my classmates and me a mini tour of the exhibition, explaining the process of creating some of her pieces and the meaning behind them.)

I had been to other paint nights where the instructor told everyone to do the same exact thing and everyone’s paintings looked very similar. Luckily, that wasn’t how Morgan chose to conduct her session.

She first told us to paint how we feel—meaning we could paint anything we wanted. Most of my peers painted a simple background. I was one of the only people who decided to paint a face. This didn’t bother me because I enjoy being the oddball.

She then told us to paint all of the greenery in the flowers on our tables. (It’s important to note that Morgan’s exhibition at the LCVA was comprised primarily of floral-themed paintings.) We finished up by painting the brightest colors in the bouquets on the table.

Heather’s friends Jason and Cecily also participated in the painting workshop.

Morgan also told us to take breaks in between painting different elements to do various activities. One of the activities was to introduce yourself to someone you didn’t know and talk about your painting. We did this two to three times throughout the session, performing different tasks. That was something new to me. I had never been to a paint night where the instructor told you to get up and talk to the people around you. I enjoyed it.

Overall, I had a very fun time. I really liked being able to paint with my friends, meet new people, learn techniques from a professional and eat pizza. It was evident from my painting that trying to depict flowers is not my strong suit—but I still had fun.

The painting I created actually wasn’t my favorite part of the experience. What I will remember most is meeting an artist and being able to talk to her and find out how and why she paints.

The Magic of the Traveling Sweatshirt

My mom and my uncle both attended Longwood (back when it was a college and not a university). This means that two of my grandmother’s three children were attending the same school, and she consequently felt compelled to get some form of Longwood merchandise to show her support. She chose a sweatshirt.

My mom, Tamara Smith Waldo ’90, also purchased a Longwood sweatshirt that she wore for a long time—even years after she graduated. Sadly, my mom’s sweatshirt didn’t survive to the present day. But my grandmother, Donna Carr, decided to hang onto hers through all of the changes and phases of her life after my mom and uncle graduated. And this is where my story begins.

Heather Waldo ’22 (center) with her grandmother, Donna Carr (right), who purchased the sweatshirt 30 years ago, and her mom, Tamara Smith Waldo, who graduated in 1990

Recently my grandmother was looking through some things in her cedar chest, and she came across the sweatshirt she had purchased so many years earlier. Once she found it, she texted a picture of it to my mom and me, saying, “Look what I found!” My mom couldn’t believe she had kept the sweatshirt for so long and how good it still looked.

The sweatshirt is still white with vibrant colors of yellow and blue. You would never think that it is nearly 30 years old.

As soon as I saw the photo, I immediately asked if I could have the sweatshirt. I loved how retro it looked and how it is completely different from any Longwood apparel you can buy now. So my grandmother washed it and gave it to me the next time she came to visit. Since then, I have worn the sweatshirt multiple times, and people often comment on it. One of my friends even asked me if I had gotten it at Pairet’s, a store on Main Street that sells Longwood apparel. When I told her it was actually my grandmother’s from 30 years ago, she thought that was pretty cool.

That same day, a lady in the dining hall also commented on it. She said, “Does that say Longwood College?” I looked down at it, laughed a little, then replied, “Yes, it does. It was my grandmother’s.” She went on to say how much she loved my sweatshirt and how it reminded her of her Longwood experience. (She had also attended Longwood when it was still a college.)

To me, the sweatshirt was something I thought looked unique, and I liked the retro style. Of course, it’s also special to me because it belonged to my grandmother. But to the lady in the dining hall, the sweatshirt was a reminder of a time when all of life’s possibilities lay before her. She began to smile and reminisce about her college days.

It’s fascinating how the same object can evoke such different feelings and memories for different people. The sweatshirt took on a new meaning for me that day. I resolved to take care of it and keep up with it, just as my grandmother had. One day I’ll pass the sweatshirt—and its history—on to someone in the next generation of our family. I hope that someone will also be a freshman at Longwood.

Living for the Weekend: Stay on Campus or Go Home?

When I first started attending Longwood, I remember often looking forward to going home on the weekend. To be honest, my first few weeks of college were pretty hectic and a bit of a blur. However, I do remember wanting to go home most weekends.

Some parents tell their freshmen to try not to come home often so they can better become acquainted to college life. My parents were not those parents.

I remember my mom telling me (and she still tells me) I could come home whenever I wanted to, even every weekend if I felt like I needed it. At first, I took her up on this offer. I would come home either every weekend or every other weekend.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I am an only child and I never really was away from home that often without my family. So the transition into college life was a little challenging for me. At first, I felt I needed to escape a little on the weekends. Escape all the new things constantly happening around me, to unwind, and to also have my own space again and be around my family.

I remember my grandmother telling me that once I moved away and started going to college, coming home would mean so much more than before—and she was right. Because I spend most of my time at Longwood now, going home is like getting a treat. It has become something special.

I am a firm believer that, if you feel like you need a break from college, you should go home, especially at the beginning when everything seems overwhelming. For me, I also wanted to go home more frequently at first because I didn’t have many friends yet—if any at all. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but no one else from my high school or hometown chose to go to Longwood. When I arrived at Longwood, there were no familiar faces. Everyone was new, and I had to try to socialize and find my own friends.

At the beginning, I remember not really socializing as much because I was really focused on my grades and assignments. The college workload was definitely more than high school. So I kind of took things one step at a time. Once I got my academic bearings, I tried to become more social and make some friends. I will say that I could’ve been a little more social in the beginning of my college career because that is just as important as making good grades. Feeling like you have at least one person to talk to or to wave “hello” to makes a big difference in how comfortable you feel at college.

I am not sure if there is a perfect balance to anything in life, really. A lot of experiences in life are give and take, and that’s OK.

For me, going home more frequently in college was what I needed in the beginning. For any high-school seniors reading this, you may feel that way, too, next year. Trust me—it’s completely normal. You are put into a whole new environment, so it’s normal to feel scared or a little homesick. After a couple of weeks into my first semester at college, I started going home every other week instead of every week because I became more comfortable here. This will most likely happen to you, too. New experiences in life to take time to get used to, so do what works best for you.


In the Rearview: Reflections on Growing Up at College

When I first started my journey at Longwood, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew going to college would be a completely different experience compared to high school, but that’s really all I knew. Over the course of my first semester, I learned many valuable lessons and became more of an adult. While I lived on campus, I became more responsible for myself and for my own education. My transition into college life wasn’t perfect, but I can truly say I am grateful for all of the knowledge I gained in just a few months.

As I have mentioned before, going to college really freaked me out. For the first couple of weeks I was on edge and just trying to get by. However, after I got more adjusted to my new lifestyle, I began really enjoying my time at Longwood. While getting more acquainted to a new way of life, I learned a lot about myself as well as other people.

During my time at Longwood so far, I have learned how to live with another person (my roommate) and how to better make compromises with people. I have also learned how to better cooperate with others by being involved in group projects. My high school didn’t require us to work in groups very often, so it has been a new experience for me.

Another lesson I have learned is to be more independent. I have always been a pretty independent person, but going to college has really forced me to become more accountable for myself. Although I’ve still had support from my friends and family, living on my own was a little hard for me to deal with at first. With time, however, I have learned more about myself and how to take care of myself.

One of the main things I learned was that my dreams wouldn’t come true if I didn’t put in the effort. So, when my classes began, I wrote down all due dates in my planner and kept all paper assignments and syllabuses in an organizer. I highly recommend doing this, by the way. Very few professors will accept late work.

Anyway, on my journey to becoming more independent, I also learned more about people. At Longwood, everyone cares about you and your success—but only to a certain extent. I learned that I really had to be in charge of my own education and also had to be comfortable being alone. Longwood is a super inviting campus but making true friends was and still is a difficult task. I learned that it’s OK to be alone sometimes and that it’s important to choose your friends wisely. While learning more about people, I learned to not be as trusting toward others. I know that doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s true and a part of growing up in the real world.

During my first few months at Longwood, I learned many important lessons. I am truly grateful for everything I have learned thus far and look forward to my future endeavors here. Longwood is a great place to not only further one’s education but also a great place to grow up and become more of an adult. Growing up is hard, but with all of the support Longwood provides, it’s a little easier.

Getting Back Into the Groove: Lessons Learned from my First Semester in College

I am proud to say I not only survived my first semester of college, but actually did pretty well. When I say I did “pretty well” that means that I ended the semester with all A’s and a 4.0 GPA—so not half bad.

With that being said, my first semester was not easy—not at all actually. I worked really hard and spent a lot of time studying, reading, writing and just doing all that I possibly could to succeed. I would say that all the time I devoted to school paid off. I have been invited to join three different honor society groups and have gotten a lot of praise from my family and friends. When I look back on my first semester, I am proud of what I accomplished, but there are also some things I plan on doing a little differently this semester.

When I mentioned earlier that all I did last semester was study, read and write, I wasn’t lying. I guess since it was my first time away from home and at college, I wanted to do everything right and to the best of my ability. I can definitely say I accomplished that. However, this semester I want to do some other things besides schoolwork 24/7.

I plan to get more involved in the clubs I have joined and to make more of a point to have some down time either with my friends or just by myself.

Last semester I learned that getting good grades isn’t the only thing that’s important in college. It is also important to eat lunch or dinner with a friend, to play pool with a group of friends, and to call your family and friends to keep in touch with them. I learned you need to balance all aspects of life and not just focus on one or two.

I learned a lot in my first semester of college and am ready to take what I have learned and make my second semester even better.

Coming back to school after being on break for a month felt really strange, and it honestly still feels a little weird to be back. In a way, I feel like I am starting over again but with some more background knowledge than before.

As I said, I plan on being more involved in clubs and organizations this semester. I am a super dedicated person when it comes to academics. I don’t really know why—I just always have been. I literally have to force myself sometimes to stop doing homework or studying and go hang out with a friend for a while. I plan on making that more a priority this semester. I’m going to work really hard on finding a good balance so I can still do well in school but also do some social things as well.

That’s actually why I titled this journey entry “Getting back into the groove.” I want to keep my motivation for school but I also want to figure out some other things out and “find my groove.”

Just like last semester, I am sure I will learn a lot this spring—things I want to do differently next semester. I kind of think that’s what life is all about, making mistakes and trying your best to learn from them and keep bettering yourself day after day—or, in my case, semester after semester.

The Infamous Oktoberfest Festival

Heather and her friend Makayla enjoyed the live music at Oktoberfest.

Everyone who becomes a Lancer at Longwood eventually hears about Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is one of the biggest events to take place all year on campus. Since we don’t have a football team, Oktoberfest is sort of like Longwood’s version of homecoming.

At this huge celebration, there are rows and rows of different booths representing organizations and clubs on campus. Some examples are the Honors Association (HSA), the photography club, various ministries on campus. Basically any club or organization you can think of was represented by a booth at Oktoberfest.

Most students organizations set up a booth at Oktoberfest, where they raise money to support their activities.

At all of these various booths, the main goal was to raise money for the organization. In trying to raise money, many of the booths were selling different types of food—everything from cupcakes to “Oreo balls” to hot dogs and hamburgers.

However, not every booth was selling edible treats. Some had different activities you could pay for or handcrafted items you could purchase. For example, at the photography club booth, you could pay $2 to use their props and have a Polaroid picture taken of you and your friends. (My roommate and I did this—it’s such a cute picture). Or at the HSA booth you could buy little plastic pumpkins or hand-painted coasters! I am a member of the HSA and I volunteered to help sell these items in their booth.

In making my way around all of the different booths I ended up buying some really cool items. (I bought more than I thought I would, but Oktoberfest is only once a year, so it’s OK, right?) Among the items I couldn’t resist were a small record that had been painted blue and says “Longwood University”, a cute hand band, some Longwood stickers of the Rotunda and the Princeps crown symbol, which represents good luck. (There are various crowns on the sidewalks of campus and you’re supposed to step on them for good luck).

Results of an Oktoberfest shopping spree

Not only is there so much to see, do and eat at Oktoberfest, but there are also live performances taking place. The artists this year included a DJ, a rapper and a country singer. My friend Makayla (see photo at top) and I really enjoyed the performance by the rapper named Bryce Vines—he killed it! There were also some activities you could do for free at the event, like riding a bull (a fake one, of course); an inflatable jousting arena, where I went up against Daniel Easter, who’s another member of the My Life As A Freshman project (I think I won but don’t tell him that); and a huge inflatable Twister board!

 I would definitely say my first Oktoberfest experience was a success. I had so much fun volunteering in the HSA booth; taking pictures with my friends and Daniel at the free photo booth; buying some cool things; eating good food; and listening to the live performances. It was a blast!

No matter what year you’re in in college or if you’re just visiting Longwood, I would highly recommend you enjoy all of the Oktoberfest festivities!

Note: Heather submitted this entry soon after Oktoberfest. This late posting is due to an oversight by the blog administrator.

Living the Dorm Life

Heather (left) and her roommate, Jessi, have figured out how to get used to sharing a dorm room.

Most people know what a college dorm consists of: a really small space in which you have at least one roommate. At Longwood, you’re actually required to live in a dormitory your first year. As to why this rule exists, I couldn’t tell you, but living in a dorm is definitely a unique experience that everyone should have (maybe that’s one reason behind the rule).

Living in a dormitory is unlike any other living situation you’ve most likely had. Some dorms are coed (meaning guys and girls are on the same hall; my dorm is like this) or some are strictly for boys or girls. As I just mentioned, my dorm is coed, and I was very unsure about how I would adjust.

In movies and in TV shows, living in a college dorm looks super fun all of the time. However, I was really scared to live in a dorm. I actually thought about how I was going to get used to living with a roommate and sharing a bathroom with suitemates more so than the difficultly of my classes!

This fear most likely stems from my being an only child. Throughout my whole life—up until going to college—I always had my own bedroom, bathroom and space to myself. So the thought of always having to share my space and always be considering other people’s class schedules (for the bathroom) was a really scary thought to me.

On the bright side, you’ll be happy to know it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

When sharing a small space with someone else, it helps if you can get along. Luckily for me, my roommate and I get along very well. My suitemates and my roommate and I get along pretty well also. So if you luck out and get a decent roommate and suitemates (or request to live with someone when choosing housing), then that makes everything else run more smoothly.

As you can see from the photos, the dorms are small, probably even smaller than you think, so getting along with your roommate is key. That being said, one big tip about housing that I remembered from Orientation was that you don’t need to be BFFs with your roommate. As long as you can both respect each other, that’s really all that matters.

It’s something to remember when you’re trying to adjust to living in a shoebox with a complete stranger.

Living in a dorm can be a little challenging sometimes, I’m not going to lie.

Always having to consider others and not really having that much time to yourself can be hard to get used to, but, trust me, you’ll get used to it more easily than you would think. Take it from someone who grew up always having her own space and didn’t even want to go to sleep-away camps because I didn’t want to live with other people!

Just be open-minded, work out a bathroom schedule and find a place of your own to escape to sometimes when you want some privacy and you’ll be fine.

Your Not-So-Typical Friday Night

Dinner with Cecily and Abby in Dorrill Dining Hall — a.k.a. D-Hall. They’re both also members of the Cormier Honors College.

When people think about what happens on college campuses on Friday nights, most think of parties, loud music and crazy young adults. However, for me, none of those events takes place on a typical Friday night.

I’ll be honest, most Fridays I don’t really do much of anything. I usually just go get dinner at Dorrill Dining Dall (a.k.a. “D-Hall”) with my roommate or another friend, do some homework and then go to bed. I know, that sounds super exciting right? You might be wondering why I don’t participate in the typical party scene on Friday nights, and the reason is simple: I’m tired. After working really hard throughout the week, I just don’t feel like doing much of anything by the time Friday night rolls around.

That being said, I did mix up my routine a little this past Friday.

After my last class, I went back to my dorm and started working on some homework. I had an assignment due the next day (Saturday) and I wanted to go ahead and get it done so I could work on other assignments. After spending about 2-1/2 hours on homework, I thought I should take a break and go get some dinner. On my way to D-Hall, I saw one of my friends and she was on her way to dinner as well. We met up with one of her other friends, then all ate dinner together.

After that, her friend went back to her dorm, and we were just hanging out. People were going out for the night, and my friend asked me what I had planned for the rest of the evening. I said I was just going to continue working on some homework. To my surprise, she said she was planning to do the same thing. We went to a study lounge and started on our assignments. We talked, told stories, ate some gummy bears and managed to get everything done that we wanted to. After we got done with our assignments, we just hung out again until we were tired and wanted some rest.

As you can see, I didn’t go to any crazy parties on my Friday night, and I still had a really fun time. You don’t need to go out to have fun—you can just hang out with a friend. You can do homework or do nothing at all.

In college, it’s important to prioritize your time. It’s crucial actually. But it’s still important to do some fun things with friends from time to time because everyone eventually needs a break. But if you’re like me and parties aren’t your scene, it’s OK.

Not everyone at Longwood goes out on Friday nights. I usually study or hang out with a friend—or both.
What the Shrek? I love Shrek and couldn’t resist taking a photo with this pillow that one of my friends’ roommate brought from home.


The Honors College Just Might Change Your Life

Heather and friends at The G.A.M.E. (Greatest Athletics March Ever) showing off their new Longwood scarves

At Longwood University, being a part of the Honors College isn’t just something stated on a piece of paper or resume. In the Cormier Honors College, being an honors student is a privilege that comes with many experiences and opportunities.

When I first found out I was accepted into the Honors College, I was overjoyed. I knew I would love being a part of such a special group at Longwood and meeting amazing people, both students and faculty. Shortly after I was accepted, I received an email saying I was invited to attend the honors retreat. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I knew I should take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

In a later email, I found out the day the retreat started was also our move-in day. All of the honors students moved in four days before the rest of the freshmen arrived on campus. In those four days, I participated in so many different things and activities I can’t remember them all.

To name a few, I went on an outdoor high and low ropes course, met with my honors mentor and group on multiple occasions, played “zombie tag,” went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and, lastly, watched the Match your Mentor Pageant.

The Cormier Honors College retreat gets loud.

In the pageant, each honors group met with their mentor and fellow group members and came up with a theme and a creative skit to perform. In the photo of this group, you’ll note they’re mostly wearing red. That’s because their theme was American pride. They were also singing the famous song Born in the USA during the photo. They later won a category at the end of night.

In the other photo, you see three girls who didn’t participate in the skit and decided watch instead. We chose to do this only because this event took place at the end of the night and we all pretty tired. However, I can honestly say watching all of the skits was so much fun and something I will never forget. Anyway, in the photo, the girls are Brittany Armstrong, Hannah Elmore and myself. All three three of us are freshmen, and I met them through the retreat, and Brittany is also one of my suitemates.

Through all of the crazy schedules and having some really long days, I still loved the Cormier honors retreat. I met a lot of my first friends at Longwood through the retreat and often find myself seeing familiar faces everywhere around campus because I met so many people. The retreat made me push my boundaries—or altogether break them down—and I learned a lot about myself during that time.

So, if you have the opportunity to apply for the Honors College, you totally should because is just might change your life.