When I walked into my first-year seminar on the first day of my orientation, I knew that it would be an awfully big adventure. Not only was it the first class I would take in college, but the title of the seminar was “An Awfully Big Adventure”—a reference to Peter Pan, one of my favorite childhood stories. While I had originally planned on taking a seminar related to theatre, my anticipated (now almost-complete) major, I found myself so enthralled by the title of the second class, and the idea of using books I had loved as a child as guidance for my transition into college, that I enrolled in it before any of my other classes, hoping that I would secure one of the limited spots.
I don’t know what I was expecting while walking into Humphrey House on that first day, but know I hadn’t thought that my professor (the incredible Di Seuss) would greet me by name before I had fully stepped into the room, hadn’t predicted that I would take a seat on a comfortable couch next to a girl who would eventually become my best friend and future suitemate, hadn’t foreseen such a casual atmosphere. I knew that my classes at Kalamazoo would never resemble the crowded lectures I had sat in during visits to larger schools, but I never guessed that I would feel so comfortable on the first day of my college career.
Over the course of the quarter, I found a safe haven in Di’s class, for the relaxed environment provided me with an escape from the stress and challenges I faced while adjusting to college life. The once-empty seat that I had claimed on the first day became my permanent spot; my classmates and I spent our Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays laughing and eating donuts while sharing favorite memories from childhood. My favorite part of each class was starting every class with “The Pig”, a ritual during which each student wrote an anonymous note describing their mood at the time (we later drew each note out of a basket and read them out loud). Some people even wrote notes to each other—I will never forget one anonymous note that said “Lauren, you’re beautiful” (and still wonder which of my classmates wrote it to this day).
It has been two years since I first walked into that seminar, and every day I am still grateful that I made the spontaneous decision to enroll in that class. Whenever I talk to incoming students about the first-year seminars, I always encourage them to take one that does not relate to their intended major, hoping that they’ll broaden their horizons the way that I did—I can honestly say that, had I not expanded my interests and taken advantage of the freedom that Kalamazoo’s open curriculum offers, the point I am at now in my college experience would be completely different.
Though my first-year seminar was the most unconventional way I could have imagined starting my four years at K, it is still my favorite class that I have taken. While each of my former classmates have embarked on their own “awfully big adventures” over the last two years, we still keep in touch quite frequently, and try to have a reunion at least once a year. Only a few more months until our next one—fingers crossed that someone will remember the donuts!
–Lauren Landman ‘18