Adjusting to college can be exhausting for many students. Figuring out a new schedule and course load and navigating across an unfamiliar campus while simultaneously trying to make friends can be a grueling task. Not to mention the immense pressure freshmen like myself feel to make their families proud, excel in their classes, and seamlessly integrate into the Tulane community. Although we all hope for a smooth transition to college, various obstacles can make adjusting difficult. Having a plethora of experience living away from home during my summers at sleepaway camp, I expected the college adjustment to be seamless. However, this was far from the truth, as just one week into my first semester of freshman year, I was already swamped with coursework and struggling to manage my schedule. And to make things even worse, a category four hurricane was approaching New Orleans.

As a native New Yorker, the concept of an impending hurricane did not phase me much. Several storms came through my hometown over the years, but the damage was minimal other than some loss of power. Hearing about the upcoming arrival of Hurricane Ida did not intimidate me in the slightest until I heard a window shatter and saw the water filling up in my dorm room. The emotions I felt at that moment were unmatched; I was scared, anxious about how the storm would play out, and longing for the comfort of home. All in all, I felt like I was drowning. 

A natural disaster is a major adverse event. These powerful storms send terror throughout communities and can cause significant loss of possessions and, in worst cases, life. Hurricane Ida did just this. As I sat on the Coach bus headed to Houston after Tulane’s mandatory evacuation notice, I was stunned by the damage I saw as I peered out the window. Despite leaving the region, the weight on my shoulders felt even heavier, and it seemed like my head was close to sinking beneath the surface. I was relieved to arrive home safely in New York, but something felt wrong. My new home was in shambles, and I felt helpless. The proceeding weeks felt like an eternity until I was finally able to return to the Tulane community.

While the college transition was exhausting for me, I had no idea what was ahead as I faced the reality of having to readjust after a short time away. After finally settling into a routine, Hurricane Ida came knocking on my door to jumble my somewhat organized life. Therefore, I have tried to employ useful strategies over the last month to make the transition back to college easier.

I have always loved to exercise and believe being active offers a great way to relieve stress and clear my mind. Breaking a sweat in the Reily Center makes me feel energized and prepared to take on the challenges in my way. Taking a walk to enjoy the beautiful scenery of New Orleans or enjoying the serenity of Audubon Park are other appealing alternatives. These outings also enabled me to create stronger bonds with my new friends, as we learned more about each other during our long walks and conversations. Furthermore, Tulane offers numerous academic, social, and volunteer organizations on campus to help students integrate further into the community. Following my passions and trying new experiences has helped me feel more at home on campus, given me a sense of community, and enabled me to settle into a less stressful routine.

Although I have been working my hardest to employ all of these strategies, I am still finding it difficult to readjust to college fully. However, I have faith in myself to make this amazing place my home given the incredible support system I have at my disposal. I know what it feels like to be caught in the eye of the hurricane. But once I find a branch to latch on to and the storm passes, I have learned to find the confidence to continue and emerge as a stronger individual than I was before. I am looking forward to continuing to readjust to college and becoming more comfortable in NOLA and within the Tulane community.  

 Cover photo by: Jamie Plissner (The Crescent Graphic Design Team)

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