Coming to Lehigh in 2017, I entered a world of unknowns.
I made the decision to attend college nearly 800 miles from my home near Chicago. Outside of a couple acquaintances, I knew no one. I thought I wanted to major in journalism, but I didn’t really know. I thought I might want to join a fraternity, but I didn’t know that either. I found my roommate through an app.
Lehigh—a mid-sized university with strong academic programs and social life, appealed to me as a prospective student. I was struck by the beauty of the campus and its traditional feel. I was enticed by the ability to reinvent myself from the person I was in high school. I figured I made the right decision, but as I got closer to embarking on college, I became filled with a sense of dread.
As I got off the plane at the Lehigh Valley Airport in August 2017, seemingly a world away from Chicago, my excitement for college was undoubtedly suppressed by fear. I was scared. So scared.
What the hell was I doing?
I remember feeling a pit in my stomach the first few days of school as I acclimated to everything from classes, to the food, to newfound social life. Eventually, that pit disappeared. I relaxed a little, and Lehigh, while still an unfamiliar place, became my home.
Four years later, I laugh at the person who was so scared to enter a new world. While my journey hasn’t been without its highs and lows, I am now comfortable at Lehigh.
Although I have evolved into a drastically different person, I find myself reuniting with my 2017 self as I mentally prepare to graduate later this month.
With each passing week, I feel myself becoming more anxious as I near the end of my undergraduate journey. I am focused on living in the moment more than ever before. Some days, I pretend like it isn’t happening. Other days, I cannot avoid that reality.
I am again entering a world of unknowns. I do not yet know what I will be doing in my post-undergraduate life. I don’t know where I will be living, and am still looking for jobs. I’ve even considered graduate programs. When people ask me about my future, I tell them the truth: “I really don’t know.” A new world of unknowns is staring me in the face.
I am scared. So scared.
While I do not yet know what the future holds, I am comforted by knowing I have been able to become the person I hoped I could when I entered college. Wherever I end up, I will take that with me.
My Lehigh journey has been far from perfect. I’ve been challenged in ways I had never been before. I’ve thrived academically—I’ve failed. I’ve made mistakes— I’ve learned from them. I’ve laughed—I’ve cried. I’ve loved—I’ve lost. I’ve made a lot of friends—I’ve left some behind too. I’ve been happy—I’ve been depressed. I’ve gained weight—I’ve lost some. These experiences, filled with ups and downs, have made me who I am today.
With each passing year, I have changed a lot. I see significant differences in even the person I was as a sophomore and junior. The pandemic has motivated me. I’ve become well-rounded.
As I prepare to graduate, I am proud of the person I have become.
As I reflect on my Lehigh adventure, I often circle back to my time with The Brown and White. My experiences with our paper have been integral to my growth at Lehigh, both as a journalist and a person.
I’ve been involved with our paper every semester since I arrived in Bethlehem, eight semesters in a row. From a first-year reporter to managing editor of editorial content, I feel my path with The Brown and White has in a lot of ways mirrored my evolution as a person in college.
The Brown and White has helped me find my voice. And, while I regrettably wasn’t involved as an editor until I was a second semester sophomore, the roles I’ve had with our paper have been a foundation of my college experience.
With each passing year, The Brown and White has become more important to me. Beyond doing journalism, I’ve made great friends through the paper, particularly over the past year. With a wide array of personalities, many much different than the friends I’ve made through my fraternity, The Brown and White has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve looked forward to our bi-weekly press nights every week.
From an editorial side, the paper has taught me how to be a real journalist. How to ask the tough questions. How to be persistent and creative through a pandemic. How impactful an in-depth story can be. How important journalism is to democracy.
More so than any of my classes, The Brown and White has given me the creative platform to improve my writing. I’ve won awards through writing for our paper, and I am proud of that.
Much like my overall time as a Lehigh student is coming to an end, so is my time with The Brown and White. While I cannot take the paper with me in the post-undergraduate world, I know all I have learned will not leave my grasp.
Yes, I am scared of the unknown, but I know the person I have become is ready for the next challenge.
Bring it on.
Eli Fraerman is the managing editor for editorial content at The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]