Questions, Memories, and Encounters

October 5, 2012
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I start my walk at Pembroke Arch. Why? Because I live in Pem East right now—Pem is now the center of “my” campus. I calculate the distance to everywhere from Pem East because that will tell me now much time I will need to get there. I can safely conclude that my life has become Pem-centric.

The first place I head to without any deliberation is Erdman. It is morning, and I have a craving for a cream cheese bagel and some orange juice. I notice very little about my surroundings for I am on a quest—get food. After I have had my fill and my physical needs are sated, I exit Erdman full of willingness to get it done, even though I was not sure what “it” was. This was odd, for I am not a morning person; just getting out of bed is the most strenuous thing I do every day. I attributed this zest of sorts to being in college, finally taking courses I want to take, not what colleges will find appealing on my application form (not that I listened to that advice in high school much in the first place).

Nonetheless, I decided that too much excitement might do me more harm than good, so I did a “stop exercise,” something I learned in my numerous transformational leadership trainings. I focused my thoughts, found inner calmness, and became aware. Aware of the things going on around me as well as the things going on inside me. I engaged all my senses. I was then ready for my walk.

I continued straight along the path from Erdman to Pem Arch. I see many faces: some are eager to start off the last working day of the first week of school, some not so enthusiastic to be up at that time of day. I do not recognize many of these faces yet, but I am sure as time passes I will be able to meet more people.

I took a left turn to walk by Wyndham. As I was passing by, memories of International Student Orientation flooded me, so I decided to visit the Sunken Garden as well. As I was standing alone in the Garden and remembering playing ice-breaking games with other international students, a lone squirrel (or was it a chipmunk? I really cannot tell them apart) had scurried down from one of the trees and was standing about seven feet away from me, head cocked to the side, inspecting me, not sure whether I was friend or foe. When I noticed it, I smiled—I have always believed that animals can sense how you feel towards them, so I try to be as friendly as possible. However, I was not sure whether the little creature could tell that, for it was still standing on its tiny rear legs, assessing the situation. I decided it was time to continue my walk.

I did not go much farther than the Sunken Garden—just until the Admissions building close to the ‘Bryn Mawr College’ sign—because that is what I consider to be the boundary of the campus. Instead, I retraced my steps back to Pem Arch and from there I walked to Dalton. I did not want to go further because, for me, there is nothing of interest east of Dalton. I stopped by Guild to have a meeting with my Dean, but that short interruption aside, my walk continued without a stop.

I walked past Denbigh, Merion, the Campus Center and Radnor, all the way up to Park Science—beyond that is just too far away. I can honestly say that the walk was as uneventful as it possibly could have been. I was paying attention to all the people around me walking hurriedly to class, the tree leaves waving lazily to the almost-nonexistent breeze, the cicadas chirping away loudly, well hidden from the prying human eye. But it all seemed normal to me. Was it possible that this new life that I was thrown into (willingly, of course) only two mere weeks ago was becoming more natural to me than the life I was used to for eighteen years before that?

I was pondering that question when I realized I was nearly late for my first class of the day (thank you Bryn Mawr time!), so I hurried back from Park Science to Taylor. After I was done with class and my shift at UnCommon Grounds, I willed my exhausted body to go over to Canaday. Truthfully, I know there are more buildings beyond Canaday, but to me this is the campus boundary. I do not use or visit the buildings on Cambrian Row, so Canaday was my boundary stop. I was careful not to walk through Senior Row or split the (pseudo-) Friendship Poles at any point of my walk—I do not want to break any traditions during my first week of college! But I realized at a certain point of my walk that I was no longer focused, calm, or aware, that the walk had become more of a goal or task to accomplish than something I would enjoy doing. In simple words, I had lost my morning’s zest.

I decided to retreat back to Pem East, to gather my thoughts and bring back some energy into myself. As I now go over my recollections and reexamine my thoughts, I realize I posed some very important questions to myself during my walk, as well as remembered a very dear time of my life, even though it was only ten days ago. And, of course, I had the most entertaining “wildlife” encounter (if you can call a squirrel staring at you that) I have had in a while. All in all, it was a wonderful start to both my day and the weekend.

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