Year One: An Open Letter

Abstract

College. Even if one thinks he or she is fully prepared, there will always be twists and turns that one cannot account for. Myself? I came into college with very little expectations or preconceived ideas of what the experience would be like. I took a leap when I decided to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virgina. That institution is over 1000 miles away from the humble plains of Des Moines, Iowa. I can’t lie, I did have my doubts. I spent the first weeks thinking about what could’ve been. However, I do believe that I made the correct decision. Hereafter is a brief synopsis of what I have learned, what I have experienced, and how I’ve grown this past academic year.

Experiences

The classes carefully tread the line between challenging and overbearing. The rules, well let’s just say I’ve grown to accept them. They can grind my gears sometimes, but they’re put in place for a reason.

Attending a school on the East Coast (yes, Virginia is on the East Coast and is NOT in the South) has afforded me opportunities that I would not have if I went to college in the Midwest. Northwestern, although in the great city of Chicago, simply does not have the prime location that Liberty does.

I am able to hike whenever I want and the views of mountains trump views of corn and soybean fields. There’s nothing quite like getting up at 2:30 AM for a sunrise hike. The outdoor activities are a great asset to the school and they definitely keep me more active than I otherwise would be.

Hands down, my favorite extracurricular activity is being able to travel. Being able to hop in the car at a moments notice and be in a different state is exhilarating. The places I’ve been able to visit this year as a direct result of the people I’ve met are Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington DC. For a small snippet of my adventures, both at Liberty and as I’m galavanting around, check out @NoahsVlogs on Twitter and @NoahsViews on Instagram.

Lessons Learned

To put it mildly, for the entire first semester, I was a cocky, annoying son of a gun. It’s good to know I’ve grown since then. I wish I could take the credit and say I simply applied myself and saw results. However, it is only by the grace of God that I am where I am today.

I have definitely learned to rely on God and trust Him with even the smallest of problems. This is due in part to me being able to get plugged into a local church. After a quite a bit of searching, I was able to find one that challenges me to become more and more like Him. After Spring Break, I tried to read the Bible more intentionally and become more prayerfully minded. I haven’t been perfect, but I have made progress.

It may be cliché, but I’ve really taken ahold of Jeremiah 29:11 in the latter half of the spring semester. Often times I get caught up in what’s happening next that I forget that God has a plan for my life. Sometimes I simply need to slow down to fully appreciate what God is doing in my life.

The People

I would not have made it through this year so smoothly nor would I have had so much fun if it were not for the amazing people I have met. Friendships have formed, and while some have developed more than others, I cherish all of them equally. I could not be more thankful for the amazing people that God blessed me with this year.

I want to take the time to acknowledge some notable persons that have impacted my life this year.

J. Bear

You’re absolutely wild. I love being able to talk sports and debate politics with you. Sometimes you can be too crazy and outlandish for your own good. I have to give you full credit for piquing my interest in hip-hop and rap music. Some may even say that I’m an unhinged “Bounce Back” fan because of you. Keep grinding and I have no doubt you’ll achieve whatever goals that your thick headed skull can dream up.

F. Fabien

Where do I even begin? Words don’t even begin to describe the perpetual tornado of enthusiasm and memes that comprise your personality. I knew of you first semester, but nothing brings people together like a Dr. Jones HIUS 221 exam. We are probably the most dynamic duo to ever make it through that class. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you better and help you elude the ‘Red Zone’.

K. Gee

Remember when I was trying to get you fired? Well, I’m still actively trying so you better be watching yourself. I admire how you led the hall with wisdom and humility. While you could’ve worked on being a bit more forgiving and compassionate, you didn’t do a completely horrendous job. It has become my goal in life to find someone that loves me as much as you love Kendrick Lamar.

D. Henderson

I can’t really bad mouth you too much considering I’m rooming with you next semester. I love your “can do” attitude and ability to handle even the most perilous situations with a clear and sound mind. You don’t make rash decisions and help balance out all of my spontaneity. Also, I think everyone enjoyed using you as a verbal punching bag. In complete seriousness, you are one of the most loyal people I’ve met. You will grow exponentially in your faith as you take on the role of Prayer Leader next semester. I can’t wait till our dorm room is filled with 8 varieties of succulents. We homies right?

A. Hinney

I can’t lie; we had beef all throughout the first semester. I take that back. You had beef with me. I had no problem with you. In the end, our mutual love for Dunkin Donuts broke down all of the barriers. Your volleyball skills put me in a position in which I had no choice but to tolerate you. After all, I need the MVP on my team. Your quick sense of wit keeps my ego in check and has helped me become a more tolerable person. I can safely say that you exude good vibes only.

T. Jerrell

The first semester you were just a frat boy with a Lacoste wardrobe that even I was envious of. However, in getting to know you this second semester, I’ve come to realize that you are super genuine and kind. With how grounded you’ve become in your faith and how overwhelmingly you resemble Chris Evans, I believe you are the most eligible bachelor on our hall. I loved our sunrise hikes and I hope we can tackle some more together next semester.

J. Lorig

I’m not kidding when I say that God put you in my life for a reason. Whether you realize it or not, out of everyone at Liberty University, you have had the biggest impact on my walk with Christ. You know how to be blunt and to the point when I’m being a complete idiot about something. Although I don’t think that we’d be friends if you weren’t my Prayer Leader, I’m glad you choose to hang out with me outside of Community Groups. I love how you’re always available to listen whenever I need to talk. I have no doubt that God is going to do big things with you. Group chats may come and go, but at least we still have each other.

J. Schloeder

Even though your driving is as bad as my eyesight, I’m thankful that our friendship has made it this far. I’m going to try to refrain from roasting you since I really don’t want to get slapped upside the head. You have taught me to be more compassionate and caring. Your empathy for others is contagious. Your passion for the Lord and love for others has rubbed off and helped me be less of a thorn in people’s sides this semester. Hopefully, you invite me out to Twelve Five Russell Springs Drive a few times next semester. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be bringing any ‘fresh’ produce.

C. Stavropoulos

I can’t believe I live in a world in which you have never written me up. It’s been close a few times, but I’ve managed to sneak by. I haven’t quite figured you out completely, but I’m pretty sure you love Jesus. The jury is still out on that one, but I think it’s safe to say you find your identity in Christ. I’m more than thankful that we were able to work past the rough patch at the beginning of the year and now arrive at the point in which I can talk to you about anything. Have you checked out “Ultralight Beam”? I think you might enjoy it.

G. Thigpen

I want to preface this whole thing by simply saying that I think we could’ve worked out just fine as roommates. Despite you kicking me to the curb and letting me fend for myself, I’m glad we were able to overcome that and become friends. Contrary to popular belief, I did not just use you for access to your beach house. To be real, you are easily one of the most caring and chill people on campus. Outside of FIFA, nothing really gets you riled up. It’s been a pleasure to watch you grow in your faith and I’m thankful you let me tag along to church. I can always count on you to shoot straight and be real. If nothing else, our friendship has allowed you to cop a couple Yeezys. That’s gotta be worth something. Right?

G. Walsh

I honestly don’t even know why we hang out. Let me rephrase that: I have no idea how we are even friends. That still sounds bad. I think our affection for Mexican food brought us together. Not to be offensive, but it amazes me how you’re getting married. God has truly blessed you and I know that you know that. I enjoy all of the little nuggets of wisdom you have imparted on me over the year. Before you move on to the next stage in your life, we should try to hit up La Carretta one last time.

 G. Waters

I believe that you were one of the first friends I made at Liberty. Your hospitality became evident when you let me lounge around your house all week long over Thanksgiving break. Although we haven’t been able to hang out as much during the second semester, every time we do get the opportunity, it’s an absolute blast. I want you to remember that I was the first to point out that something was cooking when we were in New Jersey. In fact, I have the vlog to prove it. I hope we can pull off some more crazy stuff this next semester.

A. Westerfield

Even though you were only here for the first semester, you left a lasting impression on my life. It has become one of my life goals to be as joyful and filled with the Holy Spirit as you are. I am so glad that you are able to come back to Liberty next semester. Just being in your presence can turn the most depressing of days into something wonderful. Your house is about to be the most hospitable little abode in the Greater Lynchburg area. Maybe someday you can make me one of those pineapple shaped Mr. Potato Head paintings for me to hang up in my dorm.

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