It’s been four years since I first walked onto Lehigh’s campus. I began my journey as a stranger in a new place, not knowing who I wanted to be or what I wanted to accomplish. Four years later, Bethlehem is my home. The community I have surrounded myself with is my family from which I have learned an infinite number of lessons both internally and externally.
It’s hard to put into words all I have learned since I was an 18-year-old walking into Upper Cents for the first time, but I think the food which I have discovered in Bethlehem has been symbolic of the lessons I’ve learned. Here are my top three favorite sandwiches on or around campus.
3) Chicken Avocado: Johnny’s Bagels and Deli
The Chicken Avocado was the first sandwich I had at Lehigh. I remember my orientation leader telling me that when I got homesick, I should eat at the New York bagel place, Johnny’s.
So, a few days into the school year, I took his advice and walked down from Upper Cents for a panini.
Four years later, I still order the same sandwich because it brings back memories of being a lost freshman with so much time left to figure out who I wanted to be at Lehigh.
Over these four years in Bethlehem, my life has changed a lot. I went from living in Emery House, to Sayre House C, to the Theta Chi Chapter house, to Southside Commons and now East 5th Street.
There is something nostalgic about the consistency that Johnny’s has given me in my evolving life at Lehigh.
It reminds me that no matter where I go and who I become, the identity I created growing up in New York will forever be a part of me. At the same time, it reminds me that the independent person I grew into at Lehigh would not have existed without the person I started as: the homesick freshman who relied heavily on his roommate and constantly craved a New York sandwich.
Something that I will walk away from Bethlehem remembering is that wherever we go, we should always remember the journey it took to get there.
2) The VOTE: The Goosemen
Ordering The VOTE at The Goose is a Sunday tradition that developed over the course of my senior year. I wake up each week and receive the same five word text from The Brown and White’s sports editor Eli: “Goose before we go in?”
For me, The VOTE has gained sentimental value because it symbolizes the new community I found within The Brown and White.
Since I came to Lehigh, I have constantly found new pockets of community. Freshman year, I connected with my hall-mates while becoming close with those in my orientation group and the club basketball team.
Sophomore year, I craved a new sense of community and joined Greek life. I presumed the one drawback to this involvement would be becoming boxed into a singular social circle.
However, I was completely wrong. This year, I found an entirely tangential community with The Brown and White that I didn’t experience until I joined the in-person newsroom.
When I graduated high school, I was nervous that I was too old to make new friends. But now I realize you are never too old to create meaningful relationships. I am so grateful for my senior year, in which I have made friendships that have completely enriched my college experience—friendships that didn’t have to happen, but developed organically because of how genuine the people are at Lehigh. You are never too old to make new connections.
1) Turkey Pesto Grilled Cheese: Füd TRUK
The Turkey Pesto Grilled Cheese from the Füd Truk is not only my favorite sandwich of all time, but it also symbolizes the most important thing I learned at college: self growth and growing up never ends.
Despite not being a picky eater growing up, I never liked turkey. There was no rhyme or reason for it, but on Thanksgiving I would ask for chicken because I thought I hated turkey.
Then, four years into living in Bethlehem, I tried the Turkey Pesto Grilled Cheese. Instantly, it was my favorite sandwich on campus and I began to rethink my disdain for turkey all those years.
It was symbolic of my time at Lehigh because trying new things and having the courage to build new habits was the most important part of my experience.
Whether it’s done academically, in which you can only find what you love by trying new subjects, or internally, where growth requires you to consistently make decisions and build habits aligning with the type of person you are trying to be – we must build those constructive habits. I have found that growth takes courage and dedication, and the reward of that courage and dedication has been the most valuable part of these last four years.
I know the process of growing up never ends and the discipline that self growth requires will only get harder as age makes me stuck in my ways. However, I also know that I have “miles to go before I sleep.”