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March 6, 2013
College Voices
Perspectives - by Michela Hunter
by College Voices
Michela Hunter
Freshman, Brigham Young University

I’m eleven years old. I’m hot, and I’m bored. I’m always hot and bored when we go to Utah in the summer.

I don’t see the point of why we’re here right now. We left Daddy behind somewhere—Mom says he’s talking to an old professor of theirs from when she and he went here and that we should let them catch up.

Well, they should catch up more quickly, I think. I’m starting to get bored with the fountain. My sisters and I are playing on it, walking on top of its walls and pretending to push each other in. The spray from the water feels good on our hot, flushed faces. We’re in a courtyard of some kind, surrounded by a huge stone building. I think it’s an office building or something. I kind of like it, I think, looking up at the rows and rows and rows of windows above me.

Mom calls to my sisters and me from where she’s been sitting at a metal picnic table reading a book. Daddy is back, carrying a cardboard box. There’s a man with him who’s wearing glasses. He seems friendly, and I say hello back when he says hello to us, but I don’t pay much attention to him, because—treats! Daddy pulls these huge square brownies out of the box. A thick layer of brownie, with a layer of green stuff (it smells minty) and then chocolate frosting on top. I can’t believe he and Mom are letting me and my sisters have a whole one each. They’re massive!

My sisters and I sit beside one another next to the fountain, chewing our brownies happily (delicious, a perfect mix of chocolate and minty goodness) and kicking our legs back and forth while Mom, Daddy, and the man continue to visit – grown-up stuff. I hope we come back here again sometime. These brownies are awesome.

I’m fourteen years old, and I am little. The campus buildings around me seem to sprawl out forever. If I come to this university one day, I’m sure there will be no way I’ll ever find my way around. I’ll have to carry a map with me wherever I go.

The tour guide, who looks super grown-up, maybe as old as nineteen, points out different buildings as she drives the golf cart past...the Joseph Smith Building, the David O. McKay Building, the Maeser Building. I stare at them as we pass, forgetting their names almost as soon as she says them. I’ll have to remember the names of different buildings? College is going to be so much harder than high school, when I do get there. But that’s forever away, so I don’t have to worry about that too much yet.

My dad leans forward from his seat behind me and says quietly to me, “Later, we’ll go to the Creamery to get some ice cream.”

Creamery? Right here on campus? That sounds great. BYU is like its own little self-contained city, I decide. I also decide that I like it. It’s cute. I could totally see myself here, I think, watching the students bustling around (though I have no idea why anyone would stick around to go to school in the summer. I’m never going to do that).

The students here all look way older than me, but there’s something about them that makes me feel connected to them, too. In fact, I think a lot of them look a lot like me in some ways; they dress the way I dress, act the way I act. They’re kids too, kind of.

As the tour guide pulls the golf cart in front of the cute brick building where we began (I think it’s called the Hinckley Building), I’m already pretty much sold on this college (though I don’t tell her that). I want to come to this cute little self-sufficient city with tons of other kids just like me. I don’t really know what exactly I like so much about it, but I’m pretty sure about one thing: I feel right at home here. Maybe someday, I’ll get to come here for school. That would be pretty sweet.

I’m seventeen years old, and I’m stressed. The first semester of senior year is probably the worst thing ever; on top of all of my homework, I get to fill out college apps, too.

College apps are stressful, not to mention time-consuming and terrifying. Our guidance counselor went to all of the senior government classes and presented us with tons of information on college applications, with varying degrees of helpfulness; for example, she told us some horror story about a Dominion student who was a perfect match for her dream school, but was rejected because she had never made a college visit.

While typing up my essays for the BYU application, I remember this and my heart stops. Oh my gosh. I never visited BYU! I mean yeah, I made that one visit the summer before I started high school, but seriously, that was years ago. It probably didn’t count. They’re probably going to reject me now, and then my life will be over, because I honestly don’t know where I’m going to go if BYU doesn’t accept me.

But I’m almost done with the application, so there’s no point in freaking out about it, I tell myself, trying to calm down. I’m determined to get it in well before the priority deadline; being one of the first few hundred applications certainly can’t hurt my chances.

I can’t help but imagine myself there as I write these essays—what my life might be like, my roommates, the friends I’ll have, the classes I’ll take. Obviously these daydreams are sparkly and perfect, including tons of new friends, BYU sporting events, parties and dances every weekend, a study abroad, maybe even a date once in a while. I guess it sounds like the stereotypical life of a BYU student, but I get excited thinking about it, picturing myself in places that I vaguely remember from my visit years ago or from Divine Comedy videos. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything as badly as I want to get into BYU.

I finally finish the application and, heart hammering, send it off. I go back to the application home page and read, in the application status box that previously read Incomplete the word Submitted. Now the wait begins...

I’m seventeen years old, and my life is made. I’m at Dominion’s production of Pippin with some friends, but I’m not paying attention to the play or the people around me; I’m bouncing up and down in my seat; my legs are jittery, my heart is pounding, and my mind is racing far from here. My thoughts keep going back to the email I got, ten minutes before the show started, that brought me the wonderful news I’ve been aching to hear for months.

I’m now a BYU student! Suddenly, all the cares of the past few months have melted away, and it has become as though I’m floating on a cloud. Those shiny daydreams I’ve been living in may as well be reality, because this fall, I’m going to BYU!

Over the next few months, I have to decide where I’m going to live, register for my classes, and order books. With each new step I take towards leaving home, the tension and excitement for the fall build, and the picture I paint of my BYU life becomes more and more elaborate.

I know it probably won’t be exactly the way I imagine it, but there is absolutely nothing that can make me think it’s going to be anything less than spectacular. Whatever happens now, I’m in, and different scenarios (and the imagined faces of people I will meet) keep playing through my head in all their fantastic glory. BYU is going to be so much fun. I can’t wait for August.

I’m eighteen years old, and I’m ready for an adventure. As the rental car speeds past the sign at the edge of campus that reads “Brigham Young University” I feel a little tingly thrill go through me. I can’t believe this is actually happening.

There’s a lot to be done. The day before I move into my apartment, my dad drives me to campus and takes me to the Wilkinson Center (called the Wilk?); there we get my picture taken for my student ID. Then he buys me a smoothie from Jamba Juice, which I’ve been wanting to try, and he shows me around campus a little. He shows me the Wilk and the Fine Arts Center, and we walk past the library (which I remember clearly from last time) and to the Joseph Fielding Smith Building, which is where, apparently, I’ll be having a lot of my classes as an English major. He says some of the buildings have changed from when he was here, but he knows his way around better than I do. All of this seems so big. I follow him and hope I won’t get lost on my first day of school.

The next day is even busier. I have to check into my apartment and get the keys for my mailbox and my room; I have to move all of my things into my apartment and set up my bed. My parents and all of my sisters help me with this. I meet two of my roommates, Tiffanie and Kaitlynn, and I try not to feel like it’s the first day of EFY.

After I set up house, my family and I walk around campus. My parents take us inside the Joseph Fielding Smith Building and introduce us to a couple of their old professors from when they went here. I recognize one of them. I think I met him on a previous trip here; I was maybe eleven then, and I’m pretty sure there were BYU mint brownies involved.

We walk around some more. I know I probably have that doe-eyed look of a new freshman; I try to play it down, but I just can’t stop staring at everything and trying to take it all in. Everything seems so alive, like there’s so much going on, especially in the Wilk. We bump into a couple of older students we know from back home; this is good for me, because I’m starting to feel the beginnings of fear. I didn’t think about what it would be like when my family actually left me.

Saying good-bye to them is both easier and harder to do than I thought it would be. I don’t want to, not really, but I know they have to go eventually; and go they do.

And now I’m on my own, with a huge campus to explore and wondering what it is I’ve gotten myself into.

I’ll be nineteen at the end of this month, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come from this time last year. Now that I’m at BYU and have gotten used to living out here, it’s funny to remember what I used to imagine BYU was like.

Part of it is just the sheer physicality of being here. There are always discrepancies between the way you imagine a place and the way it actually is, especially now that I know the buildings and the campus grounds, how they’re laid out and which of the buildings I become familiar with, and which of the ones I never go near.

And a sunny, sparkly social life? Well, yeah, I have one, but it’s not excessively sunny or sparkly. Right now I’m sitting at a table in the law library, trying to finish up this column so I can do my homework and study for my midterms. I do a lot of homework on the weekends, and it is a very different kind of work than I did in high school—even more so when I come to realize that a lot of what I learned in high school is irrelevant here. There aren’t dances every week, though there are a lot; and if you want to have the kind of college life where you go out and party every night (or even just every weekend), you’d better be prepared to forfeit a lot of precious homework time and a good GPA.

And yet I can’t describe how much I love BYU and how much better it is to be here for real. The sense of adventure that I always imagined I’d find here hasn’t diminished; if anything, it’s grown. There is always something to do, some going-on during the weekend or some new project to undertake or some club to join. Every day you meet new people; every day, new opportunities arise to snatch at. And there are always new challenges to beat daily.

And even though it’s not the BYU I imagined when I was younger, somehow the differences of the reality merge with my imagination from back then, and then I can make it my own anyway. It all depends on my perspective.

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