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Finding Myself at One Wellesley Summer

By Samantha C., Summer 2018 Pre-College Immersive Student

I was more than a little nervous entering Wellesley’s campus this past June, considering I had never been away from home for more than three consecutive days…. much less an entire month….much less by myself. Yet, my parents assured me again and again that it would be memorable, exciting, and, as my dad not-so-subtly phrased it, “the best summer of my life.”

So, pushing aside my doubts, I decided to blindly follow their advice and spend four weeks in a place I’d never been with people I’d never met. Looking back, I’m beyond happy that I did, considering my dad was right and it truly was the best summer of my life.

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The photo above is one of my favorite memories I captured during my time away, partly because of the breathtaking Lake Waban sunset, but mainly because I took it of myself, by myself.

In this seemingly trivial accomplishment, I discovered so much that, before Wellesley, I never would have believed: even if I’m alone, even if I’m completely out of my comfort zone, even if I’m 700 miles from everything I know, I can still accomplish and succeed and create because I have myself, and that’s enough.


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Over these four weeks I didn’t just learn to rely on myself, however; I also learned to open myself up to others, which resulted in forming meaningful relationships with so many different people, but one in particular: the girl in the photo above, Keeva.

On the first day, I walked out of my dorm with my parents and passed a girl who was alone, looking a little lost. Conditioned from years of high school, I put my head down, avoided eye contact, and kept walking, that is, until by dad urged me to ask her if she needed directions. She introduced herself as Keeva and it turned out we were heading to the same place, so I summoned up some courage and asked her to join.

Flash forward a few weeks, after countless walks to The Ville, countless shared meals in Lulu, countless sunset-viewings at the lake, and countless other adventures, Keeva and I stood in the MIT Art Museum after exploring Cambridge and I took the picture above-- one of my favorite photos with one of my favorite people.

Being in such a welcoming and accepting environment filled with such caring people allowed me to shed any worry of awkwardness or rejection, and, instead, find the courage within myself to reach out to people and form friendships, which I will forever cherish.


Untitled3Every night after dinner, I walked back to my dorm blasting music in my headphones and taking in the beauty of Wellesley’s campus. Usually my photos couldn’t quite capture the awesomeness of the architecture and the serenity of the nature, but I think this one got pretty close. What a sight to see every night!

 


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In addition to my nightly walks, I developed another routine of post-meal tea with Keeva. I captured this photo in Lulu after dinner on one of the last nights of the program, when she and I were dreading the looming goodbyes. Every week day we talked about our classes, every Saturday we excitedly discussed our excursions, and every Sunday we congratulated each other for managing to finish all of our homework. A pretty good way to end each equally amazing day!

 

 


Untitled5Because the program ran from the end of June to the end of July, I was able to experience the Fourth of July in Massachusetts, surrounded by the very places I learned about in U.S. History.

Of the many activities Wellesley offered on the 4th, my favorite was undoubtedly the fireworks display in the nearby town of Needham-- the photo above was captured during its finale.

I watched a display with my family every year on the 4th back in Ohio, so the fireworks were a nice reminder of home even though I was far from it. Plus, a lot of the international students had never seen fireworks, so I got to experience their first time witnessing an American tradition.

Needless to say, the look on their faces were priceless when the first firework lit up the sky!


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On one of our weekly excursions, I walked around Cambridge, MA-- a city unlike any other-- with my camera and documented some of its best and most interesting aspects. Obviously, I gravitated towards the Charles, but my favorite shots ended up being on the traffic signal poles at the crosswalks.

My personal favorites are these two, emblazoned with stickers reading “Empathize. We are all floating in space” and “Facts not Fascism.” 

 


Untitled8Ah, good ol’ Pom Hall.

Be it orientation day ice-breakers, common room cram sessions, dorm-room movie-watching, or hallway sunrise and sunset views like the photo above, some of my favorite memories of the summer happened here.

Undoubtedly, my particular favorite memory of Pom was attempting to study with my friends on the last night of the program in the 2nd floor common room. We all had exams we should’ve been studying for, but, instead, we went to the common room and stayed there for hours talking, sharing music, reminiscing on our shared adventures, and wishing we had more time together.


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Artwork played a major role in my time at Wellesley. Whether it was analyzing different pieces of art in my memoir class, strolling the halls of the Harvard and MIT Art Museums, visiting Wellesley’s own Davis Museum (where the photo below was taken), or creating my own through photos and writing, it just came up time and time again. Walking through the Harvard Art Museum in Cambridge, Keeva and I were struck by many of the paintings-- this photo to the left was taken of me in front of my favorite modern piece.

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In the Political Science wing of Pendleton-- where I attended my Studies in Memoir class-- there were shelves and shelves of free books! This photo was taken after I grabbed two of them: one on JFK and The Cuban Missile Crisis, one on Alexander Hamilton!

 

 

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On some of my frequent walks to the Starbucks in The Ville, I stopped into the Wellesley Bookstore before I got my coffee. I swear, I could spend hours in that place! I captured my favorite buy in the photo to the right: a book dedicated to Sylvia Plath poems. The next day, I brought one of my favorites to my Studies in Memoir class to analyze.

 

 

 


Untitled13This photo was taken on the last day of my Studies in Memoir class. The girls--along with the amazingly intelligent professor--were so supporting and kind; they created the perfect environment for me to feel comfortable enough to unashamedly voice my opinion and views.

 

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After the last class, we all took a picture in front of Pendleton and vowed to keep in touch. With me from Ohio, one girl from California, one girl from Japan, and the rest from China, we all learned so much about our different lives and our different cultures-- eventually realizing that they’re all pretty similar, after all.

 

 

 


Untitled16The last day of the program, I went to the lake and took this picture.

Admittedly, I missed my family and the prospect of seeing them in 24 hours filled me with excitement, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness. I knew that the girls--the amazingly strong, beautiful, intelligent, and capable girls--I was with constantly for the past four weeks would soon be scattered around the world.

My best friend was going home to Boulder, Colorado, my roommate to Wuhan, China, my tennis partner to Tokyo, Japan, my photography buddy to Madrid, Spain, and me to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Sitting at the lake, I remember feeling so grateful that I listened to my dad’s advice and came to Wellesley-- the place where I studied for hours, where I met one of my best friends, where I interacted with immensely intelligent and creative women, where I found myself, and where I felt at home.

For more information, please visit wellesley.edu/summer today!

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