what it means to be a sophomore

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First day at Vanderbilt // August 2014

At the end of my freshman year of high school, my English teacher wrote the word sophomore on the chalkboard. Next to it, she defined the two roots of the word: sophos meaning “wise” and phoros meaning “foolish”…

A year ago I was packing up my life into bags and boxes and getting ready to begin the first real adventure of my life: college. This year, I find myself doing the same, but something is quite different this time. For starters, I don’t have that much to pack because I stored most of my possessions at school. But on a deeper level, it’s not so hard to say goodbye when I know I get to say hello to so many awesome people that I’ve missed for the past four months.

Last year, I was saying goodbye to my best and my only friends in the world. I was leaving behind the only home I had ever known in order to start a new chapter in a new city with unknown people and an unpredictable future. This year, I say goodbye to my Easton friends in order to reunite with my Vanderbilt friends. I walk away from this home excited to go back to Nashville – my other home.

It’s different because this time, I’m not sure where home is. Last year, it was clear. Home was Easton. But I don’t know how much longer this small town will be home to me. It’s not clear whether I will come back to Maryland next summer or find myself working in a bustling city hours away from my waterside town. For incoming sophomores all over the country, this August could be our last month home. We may never sleep in our beds for more than a week or two at a time. Home may become our parents’ home; a place that we visit for holidays.

As I prepare to leave for Vanderbilt in less than two weeks, I look forward to returning to the comfort of school. I’ll be living in a new dorm with new people, but much of my Vanderbilt world will remain the same. Going back to college will not be as much of an adventure as simply a plane ride back home.

I have heard endless accounts from the older, wiser Vanderbilt students that sophomore year is the best year. With our dorms conveniently located on Greek Row and no pressure to find a lasting job after graduation, sophomores are now fully acquainted with their schools yet still have fewer obligations than juniors and seniors. However, there is a downside. As Ms. Valeo so eloquently put it, they chose the word sophomore for a reason. We may think that we are much wiser than our freshman counterparts, but with that comes the risk of being a fool. 

To all the sophomores out there (including myself), I wish a good year. A year without the awkwardness of the first few weeks of freshman year. A year in which we start to understand where we belong in the great sea of students. But mostly, I hope to accept that there will be foolish mistakes and use my newfound wisdom to correct them.

Sophomore year, I’m ready for you.

♡jmd

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