This post is part of our Voices of Trips series, in which volunteers share stories from their own experiences with DOC First-Year Trips.
My first night of my freshman Trip, I barely slept. I still don’t know if it was the not-so-dim lights of Leverone Fieldhouse, the thought of having to do my swim test the next day in front of a bunch of strangers, the fact that I knew absolutely no one sleeping around me, sleeping on the hard ground, or just plain homesickness. Probably all of the above. My mind refused to stop whirring around all night, and in the morning, when the blurry shadows of H Croo started moving around and the first blasting notes of “The Circle of Life” erupted to introduce us all to the day, I already had a headache.
After that, I was self-conscious about everything: my pack being taller than everyone else’s (spoiler alert: it ended up being too big for me and killed my back throughout the trip), whether or not to bring deodorant (I ended up dropping it in the leave-behind pile my trip leaders created), pretty much everything that came out of my mouth.
But after swimming like a frog across the pool to pass my swim test with my fellow trippees, running through the rain with them from the gym to Collis because we were the last group to finish up and got caught in a downpour, nearly running into someone while passing through a doorway and finding out he went to a high school near mine, and listening to two of my trippees bond over their coffee addiction, I relaxed a little bit.
One thing that never seems to change from year to year is the difference between trippees at the beginning of their Trip, hanging out on Robo lawn, and trippees at the end of their Trip, at the Lodge. Something about those three nights in between loosens the tension a bit, opens people up more, and allows us to dance more freely than we had a few days before – or if we still don’t want to dance, we’ll go jump in the stream, or start up a game of frisbee, or approach someone new without any reservations.
Trips is a unique experience in that way, but keep in mind that it is your own experience. Even if it rains, even if you’re not immediate best friends with the people on your trip, even if everything isn’t perfect at every moment, even if your pack is too big and you pass it off to another trippee so you don’t collapse and die – my only advice would be to not let your perceptions of this new place and unfamiliar territory hold you back in any way. Everyone around you is going through the same thing, and even with the hiccups along the way, I can’t think of a better way to jump into college. So, when it comes time to jump…just jump.