Regardless of what point in life you are at, you probably remember what your first days and weeks at college looked like, whether as a student at Lehigh or elsewhere.
It may have felt lonely at times — boxed in your dorm on an unfamiliar campus, looking for something to do and people to meet, but unsure of how to do so.
Perhaps you still feel this way, waiting for that moment to happen — that moment people often fawn over years after graduation, deeming it the definition of their college experience.
Sure, when you’re faced with the uncertainty that is college, finding groups of people with your same interests can be a frustrating challenge to tackle.
But, no matter where you stand in your college career, or even outside the confines of a campus, worrying is fruitless. Because, as time marches on, finding your community is inevitable.
Community is everywhere you look, and can live in any place. Sometimes you find it where you least expect it (this is starting to sound like a riddle, but we promise it’s not as complicated as it sounds).
There’s not one, strict, firm and definite way to find it either, making it all that much simpler. We all discover it in different ways — whether it’s by going to on-campus events, joining clubs, sports teams or The Brown and White.
Even off campus, we find communities within Bethlehem. It may seem harder to build new friendships in an unfamiliar city, where finding new things to explore takes extra steps, but Lehigh has been making an effort to extend farther into the Southside community. While there are certainly fair arguments against this physical expansion, we recognize that a strict barrier between the town and Lehigh students is being broken down.
Think about the people you’ve met at local, small coffee shops, restaurants, gyms, barber shops or parks nearby and the conversations you’ve had with them. Commonalities are everywhere and so are differences. The delightful interaction between our differences and similarities is what shapes our relationships.
When you look at Lehigh, it can be difficult to imagine how you will find your place amidst all the new faces and groups. Where do I fit in? How can I find my people? There are an abundance of opportunities to explore that can lead us to right where we need to be.
At the tail end of a pandemic, many people are craving community more than they have in a long time.
While some may argue for the luxuries of staying at home all day, going for routine walks around town or living in the comfort of pajamas (that does sound pretty nice), staying social is a human necessity and it is one that has been put on the back burner for some time now.
Now that campuses have opened back up again, communities are thriving on and off campus with a greater appreciation following our period of forced disconnect.
Clubs are hosting in-person events again, taking students on trips off-campus and hosting events for their members to come together.
Study abroad programs were put back in place and so students may once again have vibrant international experiences to enrich themselves and their careers.
Sports teams are holding games again, and students are encouraged to come and cheer for their athletic peers.
The Brown and White is even opening registration toward the end of the semester and welcomes anyone to join the paper’s community.
So while we trudge through our school work as the spring semester progresses, remember to also prioritize life outside of your classes. Make room for people to share your college experience with.
Because, at the end of the day, your community is what you remember most from college — not the all-nighters spent in an attempt to finish a project or study for exams.
While our drive is strong here at Lehigh, the communities and ties we forge are stronger.