A joke among friends who shared my First-Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE) last year is that Fall 2014 was actually our “first, first” semester of college. Even though we were here last spring – our first semester on Arcadia’s Glenside campus – the difference between the spring and fall semesters here is pretty big. Now that I have finally have experienced one of each here as well as one abroad, I can compare and contrast fall and spring semesters at Arcadia.
A quote by one of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, goes, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” I have loved these words for years but never truly understood them until I experienced an autumn on campus in Glenside.
Fall semester in Glenside is full of life. The atmosphere of the campus is full of new beginnings, among both newly enrolled students and the returning ones. Returning students are so happy to see each other again, and, new to campus or not, everyone is open to meeting new people and making new friends. Because of the population of students studying abroad any given semester, there is always a group of students returning at the start of term. There is so much going on, especially at the start of the semester: welcome events at Glenside businesses, welcome events on campus, activity fairs, Preview kick-off.
This past semester really felt like a new beginning for me. I went to all the events I missed as a first year; I even went to the Preview kick-off, just because I didn’t get to experience it last year. I wouldn’t trade my fall FYSAE experience for anything, and it was great to discover that doing the things I missed out on as a first-year student in Glenside didn’t take away from the excitement and novelty of it even though I was doing them as a second-year student. As the days and nights grew colder and campus quieted down, students fell into their comfortable routines until the last finals were submitted and everyone returned home for winter break.
Spring semester starts much like fall semester ends: quietly and with a chill in the air. You feel comfortable. Even those of us who were just starting out in Glenside after FYSAE felt it. It’s true that it was scary, as new beginnings can be, but we had each other. It may have had something to do with the lasting winter; winter is cozy and snow days give you a chance to feel at home.
Exciting things happen during the spring semester as well, but the excitement of new beginnings in the fall is different from the excitement of the conclusion that you get at the end of the spring semester, with events like Spring Fling and Woodstock. Once the snow melts and the sun invites you outside, campus comes alive again. Students sit outside and play games on the green, anticipating the end, but not quite ready to say goodbye. Even though I had only been there for one semester, by the end of it I felt like I had been there all along.
I have a good idea about what to expect for the upcoming spring semester, because I’ve done it before. But this past semester, Fall 2014, was new and unknown to me, and exciting. It made for a unique “first, first” semester at Arcadia.