When I first moved into Stanley Hall I was a bundle of emotions. Excited to embark on my new journey and independence, but terrified to be somewhere I was still learning about. I remember the night before I laid in the hotel bed wide awake. I had 100 thoughts running through my head and wanting to go back home was one of them.
I moved in on Sunday, August 18th. It was early move in so not many students were on campus yet. For two days I woke up by myself, walked to every meal by myself, and hung out with myself. I was too intimidated to meet new people no matter how desperately I longed to make friends. I would sit all alone during meals while I noticed groups of students all eating together. I imagined they were laughing hysterically at the girl who was sitting alone.
Finally, my roommate moved in on the 20th. For the first time I felt more secure. I no longer looked lonely or worried about what others thought.
That same day On Iowa! started! On Iowa! is an interactive 5 day program for first-year and transfer students. It allows new students to learn all that Iowa has to offer, make new friends, and enjoy their last week before school starts. The days are packed with numerous fun activities to do.
With the way my transition from home to college started, On Iowa! doesn’t sound like an event I’d actively participate in. Believe it or not I tried to do as many things as possible that On Iowa! offered. The whole week of On Iowa! was an incredible experience and I wish it could last forever.
My biggest highlights from On Iowa! are paddle boarding and Kick off at Kinnick Stadium.
My experience with paddle boarding is slim to none. Before On Iowa! I had only gone paddle boarding once. It was such a stunning experience that I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it a second time. All the participants were taken to the Iowa river where we were given equipment and a quick run through of how to paddle board. Once we were on the river I started talking to a fellow student next to me. We exchanged the basic information about ourselves (where you’re from, your major, what classes you’re in, etc.) and found out we both had Elementary Psychology! I loved this activity not just because of the beautiful weather that day or being on the water, but because of how friendly everyone was and the memories I was given from it. I was able to participate in something I love with other students who shared the same interest.
Kick-off at Kinnick Stadium
This event is highly recommended and most talked about by On Iowa! leaders. At Kinnick Kick-Off all the students walk to Kinnick stadium and out onto the field. Before you even enter the stadium leaders are lined up cheering and chanting while the band pulls you in even more. You learn traditional student section chants, watch cheerleaders perform, create the big block “I” with your class, and many other exhilarating activities. Just being on the field itself with thousands of students is a crazy experience.
Then suddenly, the lights go out and you’re surprised with a huge firework show!!! To end everything perfectly, Iowa organizes a Kinnick After Party. There you have food trucks to eat at for free, bouncy houses, and a balloon artist to join in on. Most importantly a DJ played music until 11pm.
“Think about how many of our fears are about how others are perceiving us”
When I first moved in, I was homesick and nervous. Every bad thought had run through my mind and I seemed to have settled for this idea that Freshman year was going to be tough. Once I started to engage on campus and step out a little I was having the time of my life. It might take some people a couple weeks or months to feel confident at school. For others it takes only a day. For me it took three. You have to remember that it’s normal and okay to not feel 100% comfortable.
As hard as it can be sometimes, remember that everyone here is in the same boat as you. Maybe they live 30 minutes from Iowa or a couple states, but either way, everyone wants to feel secure in their surroundings. It can be scary being somewhere you’ve never been and suddenly you’re forced to make friends with complete strangers, but don’t let that fear hold you back.
If you’re constantly letting your fears take charge, you’ll never know exactly what you’re capable of.