Just like many commuters, I vividly remember my first day of school, nearly a year ago now. I woke up that morning and put on my dramatic glasses – I’m a bit of a fantasizer. I like to think that life looks more beautiful when I see things through these lenses. I asked my mom to take me to school and picked out the outfit that best described my personality. It was something like a lady bug-printed dress, matching colors and all.
When I stepped out of my white chariot – or so I imagined my mom’s Toyota – everything in my mind went to slow motion. Even the trees were still; but you shouldn’t be surprised, as Arizona hardly ever gets a draft (besides during monsoon season).
A deep breath in and a deep breath out. I took in the sight beyond me, a campus full of college students. I didn’t know what was to come. The smells were unfamiliar, as were the faces. I didn’t know anyone that went here except my best friend Tracy, my friend Doannghi and a few others that I met before school started.
However, to me, meeting other people wasn’t the problem. I was just worried about my purpose – would I find it here or would I get side tracked?
Only the first steps would tell. So, I let my feet meet the gravel and walked to my first class expecting the bells to ring, but realizing they won’t because I wasn’t in high school anymore.
Lunchtime rolled around and I wanted to make some friends. So, I boldly strode into the commuter lounge. Taking it in for the second time, I saw different people doing all sorts of things. Some were busy working away on their computers while other friends chatted. For some reason it was oddly silent in my mind.
Being in a silent crowded room is something like being on the outside of it all listening to the nice murmur of conversation. It’s loud enough to not disturb other people’s conversations but silent enough that you cannot hear the specifics of what’s being said.
That’s still too quiet for me though. Which is probably the reason why I did what I did before I lost my courage. In this room full of strangers, I shouted out, “Hi everyone, my name is Selena Nguyen and I think we should be friends! Here is my contact, phone number, Instagram and Snapchat. I think it’s oddly quiet in here so I decided to break the noise.”
I posted my handwritten flyer to the board, and like something in the movies, slowly the room erupted in conversation. I laughed at the jokes my new friends made, then I asked everyone to take a photo to remember the moment. I didn’t realize that on my first day I found myself meeting many people that would become very important to my life. Isaac, who started out as my humorous, passionate, ambitious friend became my first boyfriend and Ashley, my emphatic, driven, kind friend were both captured in the photo.
My commuter experience was full of “fireworks and glitter” because I put myself out there. Whenever we had an event I was present and often in the commuter lounge. I spent my time in there getting to know everyone and eventually built a very good relationship with many people. So many memories are made from the commuter spot.
My absolute favorite people are the Beans, so called because we sit at a bean shaped table in the lounge. These friends have now become my family. In my mind we are the all-inclusive welcome party to the lounge. I see so much of God in these friends of mine. Life just pieced together as my college family advised me, encouraged me throughout my studies and went through college by my side.
The first and second semester of my commuter life I remember driving with some friends. I was able to help out my friend Audrianna and take her to school in the mornings, creating many memories. Throughout this travel time I built a very special bond with her. Then second semester rolled around and I found another carpool buddy and started taking Michéle to school, a really good friend and motherly figure to me.
Throughout my journey as a commuter, each day I learned to be a better driver as I was heading to school. My reaction time definitely quickened. I say this because in truth there are some very scary drivers on the road, but it’s all about being a defensive driver.
I’ve met many other commuters that impacted my life greatly. Luke Amargo helped encourage me to go for an interview at the Honors College, a job that I now love. Greeting people at the front desk and being behind the scenes is fulfilling every day.
This isn’t the end of my journey as a commuter, however. I still have three more years to go and many more memories to make until I find my purpose.
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