In my first days at Georgetown, after spending my first two years of college at Tulane University, I felt handicapped and out of place. The fact that I was uprooted not by any major event but by my own choice made these feelings only more intense and troubling.
While these are feelings not unknown to most college students, being a transfer instills an unconscious urgency; the knowledge that your time here will be shorter than everyone else’s often creeps into the back of your mind. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I needed to be hit with this proverbial pile of emotional bricks to understand what my Georgetown experience would truly be about.
Georgetown is a school of traditions. While the same can be said of many other universities, there is undeniably a distinct emphasis on those moments where you begin to feel “like a Hoya.” Your first picture on John Carroll’s lap, your first Homecoming Weekend, basketball games, Tombs nights — these rites of passage are a quintessential part of the Georgetown experience.
But with these events comes an understanding of the tradition that is Georgetown as an institution, an understanding that I lacked when I first walked onto campus.
Transfers, by nature, come to Georgetown with a unique perspective, having already had at least a year of college under their belt; some applied to Georgetown their first time around, many did not. Not having that understanding made me feel marginalized, like my Georgetown experience would always be missing those key parts that so many people around me had under their belts. It was not until I began talking with my fellow transfer friends that I began to understand not only why this disconnect existed, but why it is actually the best thing about my Georgetown experience.
The transfer community at Georgetown encompasses a remarkably diverse group of people in their experiences and viewpoints. For its part, this university does a great job of trying to understand the needs and struggles unique to transfers, but no support system is greater than fellow transfers who go through so many of the same challenges and roadblocks.
This community gave strength and confidence at a time when I felt that I truly did not belong. Soon enough, being a transfer didn’t feel like a handicap to me, but rather a mutual bond that made me understand the power of shared experiences.
I began to notice that even though I felt awkward or out of place when yet another Georgetown tradition was simply an unknown phrase, it opened up a door for me to share my experiences even outside of the transfer community. Friends who were not transfers were curious about my story, my experience, and they were eager to hear the things I had not yet experienced. The label of transfer ceased to be a burden and become just part of my own unique Georgetown experience.
All transfers at Georgetown, no matter when in their time on the Hilltop, have moments that remind them that their experiences are different. Sometimes these moments make us laugh, sometimes they make us feel uncomfortable and sometimes they even make us feel that we do not belong. But at least in my experience, embracing these differences has led me to some of my best friends and best moments of my life.
It’s also led to one of my favorite traditions of giving the name of my old freshman dorm at Tulane alongside New South, Darnall, Harbin and VCW as my freshman dorm and watching intense confusion ensue as my friends rack their brains as to why they have no memory of that building ever being on campus.
Not all transfers have this inclination to embrace the uniqueness of their experience — an inclination I completely understand. But to my fellow transfers that feel their standing as Georgetown students is somehow even remotely diminished, I say that your experience is no less quintessentially Georgetown than any other.
Transferring into Georgetown has become my own tradition, right alongside my first walk down the Exorcist Steps and my forehead stamp at The Tombs. Only having two years on the Hilltop may seem to many like a terrible punishment, but for me it has been an unexpected blessing. At the end of my two years here I know that while I will have been constantly challenged, I will have also been constantly supported by my friends, family and fellow Hoyas every step of the way.
But if all else fails, I always have this simple fact to remind me that being a transfer at Georgetown must really not be that bad — Bradley Cooper was also a transfer. All I have to do now is sit back and wait for those Oscar nominations to come rolling in.
Johnny Verhovek is a senior in the College. He is member of The Hoya’s Editorial Board.