A child grows older and begins to distance himself from his family to make a life for himself; it is the natural order or normal progression of time. It is a particularly special experience when a teenager moves on to collegiate life. My experience was emotional, different, and even a bit scary.
My move-in to Texas A&M University began on a Friday night, August 17, 2013. My family gathered in the living room and my father offered me words of encouragement along with a Bible, his favorite Roman Missal, and a blessing. After the gathering, two of my younger sisters began crying. With all the preparation we had been making for my departure, my sisters just then realized what was happening before their eyes: their eldest brother was leaving.I was deeply touched by this outpour of emotion that I simply hugged them. I could not find the right words to console their sorrow. That Friday night I barely slept. My heart was racing with anticipation. I was counting the seconds until 7:00 am when I would leap off my bed and get ready to leave.
My mother, four little sisters, and one of my little brothers would accompany me on this trip from Frisco, TX to Texas A&M University. At 9:09 on Saturday, August 18, 2013, my family said a final prayer then I bade farewell to my father, my twin brother and my thirteen-year-old brother. Later on that day, I also called my big sister, who was living away from home and extended her a farewell. The travel took about three hours and thirty minutes. Once we arrived, we first drove to a certain number of stores to redeem coupons for free Aggie shirts or backpacks. We visited Post Oak Mall, drove around campus, went to church, checked into our hotel and finally rested for the night.
The following day started bright and early at 6:00 am. I woke everybody up and we started getting ready to leave the hotel for Texas A&M University. Since we arrived on campus a bit early, I had time to pray one last time with my family. Then at 8:00 sharp we began unloading my luggage and bringing them to my dormitory. After unloading, we headed to Einstein Bagel Bros. to eat breakfast, then we went to WalMart to buy some frozen dinners and a padlock for the room. Finally, it was time to say good-bye to my family. We drove back to my dormitory, I hugged my siblings and my mother then my mother told me, “Do not let me down. I am counting on you to be smart and wise.” With those words, I left.
Throughout this whole experience I was mostly quiet because so many thoughts were racing through my brain. It all started Friday evening when my father decided to accompany me to the AT&T store to switch my cellular telephone for a new one. That whole week, my telephone was ringing off the hook with messages and calls from friends, co-workers, and my bosses, wishing me good luck or inviting me to “this-or-that” farewell event. However, after I switched telephones, everything stopped. I realized at that moment that I was leaving everyone behind: close friends, my jobs, and even my twin brother who had been the closest person to me for the first seventeen years of my life. I was moving on.
This sense of moving on scared me at the same time that it was filling me with hope, aspiration. On Saturday morning, as I waved my father goodbye while my mother was driving off, I realized I was waving my childhood away. I would have to be in charge of my own life. It was not until Sunday morning that the fact that I was moving into a new environment sunk into my mind. This was no ordinary trip, where I would return three days later, and relate my experience to my twin and twelve year old brothers. No! My mother was dropping me off in the middle of a world that I knew nothing about, surrounded by strange people and unfamiliar places. How easy would it be to get lost, a seventeen year old boy alone in a big and crowded university campus!
I decided to tackle my feeling of being unsettled, disoriented by putting some order in my room. I started by rearranging my tiny room. The dorm was so cramped that one of the beds blocked the closet. I asked my Resident Advisor to help me displace and reorganize the furniture that way the closet would not be obstructed. Then I arranged my clothes and toiletries, and made my bed.
Once I was finished, my dorm room looked more like a home. Finally, I have made for myself something I can relate to. By redesigning my room layout, I found my identity, I felt a bit settled. If I were to advise an incoming freshman planning to move into the college environment, I would tell him to establish something familiar in his room. Moving away from the family house can be overwhelming, but bringing along even a small piece of home can help acclimate to the new environment.
The next four to six years of my life will be exciting and at the same time difficult. I will take some time to adjust to this new life and affirm myself. I am ready and brimming with anticipation. Jean-Claude Nnang Faa, fighting Aggie of class 2017, will succeed!
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