I am so glad to be home! I just experienced today every reaction that all the local kids have been experiencing the past couple of weeks: the back to school reactions. And my symptoms were plentiful. Excitement, nervousness, loathing, disgust.
Starting back to school as a thirty-nine year old on a campus where the average age is under the legal drinking age is intimidating! My utter lack of technological competency was proven multiple times today. I spent the greater part of an hour worrying about how to get on to ELc, the electronic doo-dad site that connects you to your classes/classmates/professors. Finally when I sat down at the computer to Google my way through the daunting mystery, I merely typed “e” in the search bar and it fed me: elc.uga, the exact page I was fretting about for the entire morning. I felt accomplished and ashamed at the same time.
Entering UGA as a non-degree student has had a few dips and turns in the past few days and weeks, not knowing for certain if I had all my T’s crossed and I’s dotted. Just yesterday I threw myself onto my bed shaming UGA for all of its difficult complexity. My husband essentially told me to put on my Big Girl pants and pick up the phone to ask a few questions instead of whirling all the “what ifs” around in my head for another forty-eight hours. Sound advice.
But the complexity continued. In the form of driving and parking. I earned my BBA and my M.Ed. at this school nineteen and thirteen years ago and I live in the dadgum town and take most of these roads on a regular basis. But for the life of me I could not find my way to the parking lot closest to Aderhold Hall. Of course Milledge Avenue’s Bid Day held me up for a bumper-to-bumper fifteen minutes which shorted me out of the chance to make multiple loops around South Campus. However, I did manage two loops around the Ramsey center, forgetting that it was basically a one-way roundabout.
As I locked my car, leaving my chances of a parking ticket to the powers that be, I took another deep breath. So many unknowns to deal with in one day! I was enjoying reminiscing about my old college roommates and their time spent on South Campus when I looked down just in time to avoid stepping in a pile of barf. Fitting, since I had nerves that made me feel the same.
Finally as I set myself down in a chair in room 306 I remembered what it was like to be a kid. Yup, I was the only kid in the class who didn’t have a new book bag. The only one without a Trapper Keeper. The only one without Jams shorts. The only one who didn’t see the hottest summer movie that everyone was talking about. Only for me, in 2017, it was the fact that I was the only student who pulled out a three ring binder. With PAPER in it. Everyone else had their laptop nicely situated in front of them, Wifi ready and all. I think I pulled off a pretty good poker face, but inside I could feel an eight year old whose face was crumpling and ready to cry. Just because everything was new and different (different from 2005 at least!) I was ready to scream, “I quit!” fearing that if I didn’t even have my laptop with me, then I surely lack the qualifications to make it through this class. And everyone looked so young!
Luckily the professor started talking and sounded very interesting and by the time I got home, I had a pleasant smile on my face, much like the smile on my kids’ faces these past couple weeks of their new school year. I feel like I just had a giant dose of empathy for all the kids crying, kicking, climbing into bed with mom and dad, and whatever other coping mechanisms they use to deal with this time of year. Kudos for them for dealing with it Every. Single. Year. Back to school jitters are real; as real as barf on the south campus sidewalk.