The morning sunshine was invigorating. The sand morphed to cradle the shape of my forearms as I laid out reading on the beach, listening to the sounds of my classmates romping around in the ocean. I imagined myself back in my dorm room, hunched over my desk, staring at the very same textbook by the glow of florescent light, listening to the musical stylings of my minifridge humming under the bed. I smiled, happy to have chosen the beach.
Nearly a week earlier, the morning of Aug. 25 dawned bright and clear as my family and I were packing the car, ready for my return to college. I logged in to MyArcadia to check my email one last time before we hit the road when I noticed this:
I stopped mid-scroll.
Last year as a first-year student, I balked at the idea of jumping on a bus full of people I had never met and driving all the way to the beach. But now, seeing this year’s ad filled me with regret. Had I missed out on a great opportunity last year just because I was too scared to try something new? My fingers hovered over the track pad. But what if I went this year and didn’t know anyone else on the trip? Nerves still tugged at me from inside. Then, suddenly, without letting myself think about it any longer, I clicked on the link and signed myself up.
And then came the first week of classes.
As my agenda book filled with papers and readings and discussion board posts, my hopes of going to the beach diminished. That nervous feeling came creeping back into the corners of my mind, and I felt completely overwhelmed. How was I going to stay on top of all this schoolwork if I lost an entire day on a beach two hours away from campus? I was certain I’d return freshly bronzed but completely behind in every single class. When it came time to board the buses, I was tempted to stay behind, but equally determined to stick with my goal of trying new things. So I compromised. I brought my homework with me to the beach!
I pulled out my heavy-duty backpack (you know the kind I’m talking about—the ones your parents used to use for day trips to Six Flags and The Crayola Factory) and after I emptied it of spare Command hooks and Tupperware containers I had forgotten to bring the lids to, I began to pack. In went the textbooks; in went the syllabi; in went the notebooks and the pencils and the iPod (for morale, of course).
And don’t worry Mom, I packed sunscreen too!
To my relief, the bus was full of friendly faces and, when we got to the beach, a few of us staked out our very own spot in the sand. It wasn’t until the morning sun began to fade into an evening glow and the winds picked up, turning the pages of my textbook at warp speed, that we realized it was time to meet up with everyone else for the trip back to campus.
As we all stood there waiting for the buses, the entire group of Arcadia students slipped into a collective dance. Some stamped sand out of their shoes. Others shook it out of their towels. A few girls finger-combed their hair, trying to free it from their ponytails.
And I stood with the rest of them, turning my textbook upside down, trying desperately to shake the sand from its pages.