I live with a ton of freshmen in a crowded dorm in the woods, isolated from any interaction with most people my own age. I am forced to solve other people’s problems and look out for those people 24/7 while trying not to crack under the pressure of the dreaded Upper year. I sing ‘Happy Birthday’ 40 times a year. I check lights out. I give out restriction and settle conflicts that won’t even matter the next day. I am a prefect in Nathan Hale.
Considering the things I have to sacrifice as a prefect, this may come as a surprise, but the truth is that in only a month, living with my freshmen has been one of the most enriching experiences of my Andover career. It allows me to remember that even though Upper year takes a toll, I am not the only one struggling through this year.
Every day one of my freshmen comes up to me asking for advice, homework help or assistance to kill a bug or two. All of these situations take time out of my schedule, but the feeling I get from knowing that my girls can count on me outlasts any fatigue I may experience the next day from the late nights.
But it isn’t all work, either. The freshmen in Hale are funny, clever, outgoing and inevitably noisy. They take life one day at a time, reveling in freshman year at Andover, a year which is all at once exciting and terrifying. Witnessing the small beauties of their freshman year through the eyes of an Upper helps me reflect on who I was in 2009 and how I have changed in the past two years. I reflect on mistakes made, risks taken and the life I lived as a freshman with pass/fail grading in English and History and frozen yogurt after every meal.
Overall, my Upper year has been full of new experiences, just like a freshman: new dorm, new cluster, new positions and a new life here in general. While I welcome some of the new challenges with open arms, others only seem to corroborate the horror stories I have been hearing since my own freshman year.
I was initially afraid of feeling alone in the dorm and overwhelmed by taking on the challenges in my life along with those of the freshman class. Thankfully, I have the privilege of 38 freshman girls and four other Uppers to take care of me.
While we all tackle their first year at Andover as a team, the freshmen help me to remember that I also have a team of people who are willing to see me through the late nights and numerous commitments. At this point, I honestly cannot imagine my third year at Andover without Hale and the community I have found here.
Unwana Abasi is a three-year Upper from Katy, TX.