It was April 11, 12:13 PM. I was in class, staring at my phone instead of paying attention. I was supposed to hear back from Andover Admissions that day. I conditioned myself to expect rejection because I had romanticized the idea of Boarding School so much that it seemed like a dream—something unreal that couldn’t possibly happen to me. So, when I read the email saying I got in, I couldn’t process it. The words in that email felt distant. After all, I had romanticized Andover so much. It all seemed unreachable.

Skip a few months, and in September, I packed my bags and yawned straight through a five-hour drive from Queens, New York to Andover, Massachusetts. I went to all the orientation events, my parents got all sappy, and we said our goodbyes as they left after dinner. Of course, I was still feverish. I finally got to campus; at first, it was everything I imagined it to be… and then reality set in—not everything was great. 

The first night I slept in my dorm was terrifying. It was quiet, too quiet for my New Yorker brain. I need to hear approximately ten vehicles honking and twelve people swearing each other out simultaneously to sleep. 

The rest of my first week went pretty smoothly, but I felt excluded and lonely. The type of solitude that drains your enthusiasm, the type that hangs over your head like a cloud, the type that makes everything an absolute bore. I had never struggled to make friends before, and that’s not even what the problem was—I had made many friends. I was upset that I hadn’t found a best friend yet. It’s ridiculous to anticipate your platonic soulmate within seven days, but the people around me seemed to have that already. 

The lack of sleep, this loneliness, and my self-comparisons to others around me did nothing but worsen my homesickness. I missed my family so much, I missed my best friend, I missed subway rides, I missed the smell of cigarettes and rain, I missed everything. 

But things started to look up. I waited until October to finally visit the ASC, which remains one of my biggest regrets, but it helped immensely. I got a peer tutor for Bio 100 and Spanish 200; I got a calendar; I found a warm friend group. Everything started to fall into place. Before, I just took the good with the bad of the watered-down Andover in my head, but things were genuinely looking up, and midterms also went well for me. I cruised through the rest of the term.

A/E weekend, though, I did not go to a single game, and my phone was on Do Not Disturb all day. I studied every second of that weekend. The following week, when I got to take the actual tests, I was honestly very well rested. Some questions on some tests made me think I worried over nothing, and on others, I genuinely had to do “eeny meeny miny moe.” But you can’t have everything, so I just went with it. After I finished my most brutal finals, I spent the week recklessly—often downtown or in my dorm. 

And as I got on the bus at 4:00 PM sharp that final Thursday, I felt at peace. The reason why this term was so chaotic for me is that I put life here on such a high pedestal; I romanticized every single aspect. When I got here, I forgot that my notes won’t always be aesthetic, that my hair won’t always look good, that sometimes the food won’t be all that great, and that the weather on campus won’t always be majestic. 

Life comes with ups and downs, and this fall term has taught me to accept that and make the best of it. Some days were high but went by so fast, others would just drag on with slow suspense, some days were pretty low—and that’s okay. I got to enjoy the term anyway because of my friends and the wonderful adults on campus to support me. Wherever I am on my individual timeline, things will work out—perhaps not exactly the way I wished for them to, but I know I will be satisfied in the end.