To all of the new transfer students: Two years ago, I was you. Georgetown University was new, but being at college was old. Saying goodbye to my parents was not weird the second time, and I knew not to bring so much unnecessary stuff to school with me.
Still, I had no idea where anything at Georgetown was. I could not find Wisemiller’s Grocery and Deli for the life of me — the ubiquity of Wisey’s cookies and takeout containers made me think that it was centrally located on campus. I learned that I was very wrong — six weeks into the school year.
It took me a good thirty minutes to figure out where a professor’s office was in the Intercultural Center, even after going to his office once or twice, I still got lost on the way there.
A few weeks into the year, one of the clubs I had signed up for had its first meeting on the second floor of White-Gravenor Hall. I searched for the stairs to the second floor in the admissions office for fifteen minutes before I realized there were other entrances with separate stairs.
My first few weeks at Georgetown definitely humbled me, to say the least, but I eventually acclimated. And you will, too.
Transferring is not an easy task, and everybody’s transition to Georgetown is different. Some of you may have relatively seamless transitions to the Hilltop, but it is not uncommon to struggle. You may find yourselves wondering if you truly belong here, or even if you should have transferred at all.
Those thoughts certainly crossed my mind when I first got here. I missed my friends at my former college, and as a timid and reserved sophomore, I thought I would never be able to socially integrate at Georgetown.
The academic adjustment was also overwhelming. Though the work here was not necessarily harder, there seemed to be a never-ending stream of assignments, which was not the case at my previous university.
On top of the typical obstacles new transfer students face, my personal life was a complete mess. Transferring alone had already triggered a mental health crisis that semester, which only deepened when I learned students at my former university had died and when family members underwent unexpected heart surgeries and cancer treatments. During my first two months at Georgetown, I spent my days crying hysterically in Dahlgren Quadrangle for hours on end. You could say my first semester here was pretty rough.
It took me several weeks of navigating Georgetown’s resources to successfully build a support system. When you are not a freshman, most people expect you to know where to go for certain issues. Eventually, I found the people and places who got me through that semester by showing me the importance of self-care. Those eight weeks still mark the period I have learned most about life, and about myself.
I am not going to lie to you: Transferring was very difficult for me. But that does not mean it will be for you. No matter how similar or different your own transition to Georgetown is, you will be surprised. The experiences — both good and bad — I had during my first few weeks here were completely unexpected. Undoubtedly, some of yours will be too.
Georgetown may not be the place you thought it would be when you chose to transfer, but that does not mean you will not have a wonderful experience here. For me, there have been more rough patches in my Georgetown career than smooth ones, but I am happy to have experienced them here because of the support I have received.
People across campus — my dean, my orientation adviser, the Chaplains-in-residence, Health Education Services and the resident advisor of the Transfer Living Learning Community — guided me in my times of emotional distress. They have helped shift my philosophy of life from defining myself based on my accomplishments to striving to be as self-aware, yet as selfless, as possible.
I am proud of the personal growth I have achieved and continue to achieve while attending this university, and I am excited for you as you begin to learn more about the world, others and, most importantly, yourselves. Some of the most valuable education you will receive here will come from outside the classroom, as it should. This university gives its students many opportunities to grow socially, spiritually, athletically and intellectually. Take advantage of them while you still have two or three more years as an undergraduate.
If there is one piece of advice you take away from this: Always remember that people at Georgetown are here to support you if your Georgetown experience is not as great as you thought it would be — let them help you if you need it. Though transferring can seem like an isolating process, finding your support group on campus will help you realize that Georgetown will welcome you if you let it.
Brittany Rios is a senior in the College. TRANSFERmations appears online every other Monday.