Volume 31 | Issue 6

College is about finding where you belong



There is childhood and there is adulthood, and then there is college. College is the connecting stage between two distinct periods of one’s life. It is a time for learning and challenging ideas. It is a time for separation and closeness. Most of all, it is a time for growth in its many, and sometimes unforgiving forms. 

Some of the growth college students experience comes from shifting relationships as old friends drift away and new friends step forward. Some of this growth can also come from the realization that the “real world” is in fact only four years away and there is a lot of work to be done to prepare for that next step. However, it is likely that a majority of the growth, or at least the initial causes for growth, will come from the change of experiencing a college environment and all of the quirks and oddities that come along with it. 

Every college has its own culture, and FPU has its own share of oddities and unspoken rules that surround campus life. This school is a series of dichotomies. Resident and commuter. Athlete and non-athlete. Leadership student and “regular” student. To an outside eye, these divisions are invisible, but they dictate the codes of conduct and social behaviors for students on campus.  

For a school that prides itself on community and works diligently to advertise the “FPU Community”, it is difficult to see how a single community could ever be a reality on this campus. Yet, the community does exist. At FPU, we have a collection of connected communities that share members and gather to create the campus atmosphere. It is this almost Frankenstein-like atmosphere that elicits the sentiments of culture shock experienced by students.  

Each student comes from a different background, which causes them to attempt to navigate the new behavioral and interpersonal communicative expectations. Some prove better at this than others. An inability to adapt to the new standards can cause some to feel like outsiders as they watch their fellow students jump quickly into the rhythm of the campus. While it is easy to blame “the system” for one’s feelings of alienation, it is more accurate to look at one’s success in adapting to FPU’s conglomerate culture. 

College is about finding those communities in which you belong. That is where the growth comes in. Sometimes finding that sense of belonging clicks easily but it is not uncommon for an emotional, spiritual, or physical struggle to ensue in order to bring that feeling to you. As unappealing as struggling sounds, growth can never happen if everything stays the same. In a controlled experiment, at least one of the conditions must change in order to properly test a hypothesis. In the same way, college is the laboratory in which students can test variables in order to build an understanding of life that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

In your college journey, you will definitely go through periods of discomfort and culture shock, but that does not mean they will last forever. Use FPU and your time in college as a way to find methods to deal with discomfort and find people who are willing to go through it with you. This campus will not be the only place you will experience discomfort or culture shock in your life, so use this time to refine and strengthen your resolve.