For 9 years from September 04 till now, Lawrence University was my life. Before I arrived for Welcome Week, I was coming from 3 years in Burlington, WI. Prior to that, I lived almost 15 years in Mundelein, IL.
Leaving Mundelein was horrifying. After being bullied at my second middle school I attended for 7th-8th grade, I had a fabulous freshman year. My former school district fed into the same high school as my current, so all my best friends were now in one place. I had two cliques. I felt like Sex in the City, except without the sex or city. It was awesome. And then my parents decided to move to Wisconsin.
I remember breaking into a million pieces. “ANOTHER move? Last time we switched schools I got bullied… I don’t want to go through that again!” Well, it didn’t matter. I switched. And I was bullied. Mostly in gym class, the same place I was once reduced to tears (but they were hidden) in middle school because I JUST. COULDN’T. DO. What my teammates wanted. Uncoordinated and unathletic - Thaaaaaat’s me! (Get well soon, Amanda.)
Despite the advent of the internet, I drifted from wonderful friends. I still miss them and often wonder of the road less traveled. (Cheers, Nick, Joe, George, Kyle, Alex, Matt and too many others…) Leaving Lawrence, where I spent seven years living on-campus ended up feeling a lot like leaving Mundelein which is why I am giving this history lesson.
I never really connected with Burlington, WI. I felt out of place. I belonged in Mundelein. I was shy and awkward, (and hilarious) but I still had a small group of friends I knew from Band (where I was Saxxy Drew) that I could vent to when I was pushed over on the track in gym class or told my ears and nose were too big or I was “gay.” I worked at Culver’s my senior year and had some peeps there. Leaving for college was scary and exciting all at once. I broke up with my girlfriend, Courtney, who I had dated for over a year to ensure I was ready for a fresh start.
LAWRENCE Freshman Year (Year 1)
During my freshman year, I learned that despite having been in accelerated classes and getting straight A’s for my entire life, I wasn’t really *that* smart. Lawrence was a wake-up call. I was now a B student, but I also received some scary grades I wasn’t accustomed to seeing… like D’s and F’s in Poli Sci and Comp Sci class. I wanted to leave, but I stuck it out. I was shy so I mostly hung around the 4th Floor Plantz guys and played video games like Final Fantasy 9. I also had a long distance relationship going with an old friend from Mundelein, IL so I spent a lot of time chatting. My roommate was both a friend and a nuisance, but we became close my sophomore and junior years.
Sophomore Struggles (Year 2)
My second year I got a girlfriend and became an RLA (Residence Life Adviser aka RA). I loved putting on programs / activities for the residents and running the desk / duty at night. It was awesome. I still struggled though. First, I got diagnosed with a chronic disease that explained my months of crippling stomach pain. My relationship became tumultuous aaaand I got my first F. Well, a WF (withdraw failing) because I was not in anyway qualified for Psychopharmacology with Hetzler and no previous Psych courses. I tried tutors and studying, but in a course that had THREE graded tests as 33 percent of your final grade and spaced them so that by the time you have your second test back, the “Withdraw passing” deadline has passed, I was stuck. After my second test the professor said passing was impossible, so I had no choice but to withdraw. Man that sucked. For the first time in my life, I really epically failed at something besides sports. This bad grade was enough to bring my GPA a hair below the minimum to be an RLA, so my junior year I couldn’t even continue in my job. Someday I should write a blog about how stupid the grading system is and how ridiculous that experience turned out to be for me.
Jubilant Junior Year (Year 3)
Junior year was probably one of the best years of my life. I got elected Hall Council President and had a bunch of great friends I had made from being an RLA. I made friends that year as a Welcome Week Leader (freshman orientation) too. I was single all year and despite feeling lonely at times (blog on loneliness coming next week!), I persevered.
Senior Sexiness! (Year 4)
My senior year I had a quirky new girlfriend who also happened to be asexual… something which 5 years later I identified with. (See AVEN if you don’t quite understand what asexuality is. Yes, I’m straight.) I was also an RLA again because my grades had improved. Not surprisingly, once the Gen Ed Requirements were done I stopped getting anything below a B. Senior year was awesome too. I had a fabulous group of friends and decided I wanted to stay at Lawrence. I decided I wanted to become a Residence Hall Director and keep working for LU! I made a Five-Year Plan of goals that I eventually completed in full.
Grad School (The Dark Ages)
After graduation, I started a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and after a year of that I got a job at Cardinal Stritch as an RHD! I knew this would position me to be a good candidate for an RHD job at LU. A year later, my mission was complete – the masters’s was done and Lawrence hired me as an RHD!
Residence Hall Director Era – “RHDrew” (Years 5-7)
The next three years would be three of the most rewarding and fulfilling years of my life! I made a bunch of awesome NEW friends and really enjoyed what I was doing. Immensely. I knew I wanted to give back to Lawrence forever and settle down in Appleton, but I also knew I couldn’t be an RHD forever and that I was hoping to settle in a department other than Campus Life where we had to serve in an on-call rotation with the duty phone.
Additionally, over my three years as an RHD I grew to love the town of Appleton and it became the place I spent the second longest time in my life. I explored every nook and cranny. It was safe and clean and the perfect balance of small versus large in population. I loved the little restaurants and….
And then it was over. My contract wasn’t renewed and I was in shock. My pleas were rejected. I was in the depths of despair for months, which only was escalated by my breakup from my girlfriend, my grandma’s Stage IV pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and my dad’s own health issues which all surfaced in the same month. I desperately wanted to stay in Appleton at all costs to get married and be happy!
I didn’t stay in Appleton over the summer to look for jobs because of my grandma’s proximity to death. RIP Ellie (See blog on that – My Day with Death). I didn’t really have the money to live without a roommate. I started my online courses for Library Science in hopes of eventually working at the Lawrence library and making a career out of it. From my home, I applied to various jobs at Lawrence. And then it hit me. Hard.
I don’t want to return to Lawrence. I don’t want to work there. I don’t want to live in Appleton.
If I go back, I’ll feel pathetic. I will be clinging to memories and safety. My fond memories of Lawrence are because of the people who I met there, like Erin, Allison, Lincoln, Paul, Sarah (x3), Ari, Tony, Molly, Tara, etc. I’m NOT an academic. It was the friends that mattered. It’s a fabulous institution, but it’s also not the most beautiful (little bro’s Lake Forest College’s red brick buildings got it beat).
1) Appleton smells bad when the paper factory gets going.
2) There are no buses on Sundays.
3) It’s a pretty conservative town.
Sure, it’s got SNOWY winters and the PAC and parks and TRAINS and restaurants, but there are definitely better places that I haven’t seen with more liberals, better public transportation, even more restaurants and maybe even mountains! I really want to see a mountain.
It’s time to move on.
Onwards and Awkwards!
I have a class ring that I accidentally left in the care of my ex girlfriend the last time I was in A-town. I had it purchased last fall to remind me of how much Lawrence meant to me and how wonderful my time had been there. The side says “I am awesome.” I classified my years there in Harry Potter terms – last year was the 7th year, so it was Deathly Hallows. And how true and fitting that turned out to be. In many ways, my class ring is a horcrux. It holds part of my soul. The Lawrence part. However, there has to be more. I can’t, at 27, be done seeing the world. If I settle down, it should be because I’m older and have a companion and a full-time job. Plus, it’s not safe to have all my horcruxes in one place!
Obviously this realization was very difficult. It took a lot of intense thought. There are plenty of reasons to be in Appleton – my brother David moved there 1.5 years ago, my ex girlfriend, who I am still very close to is there, good ole Tony Lor and all my former RHD coworkers and colleagues and residents are there too…. Not to mention the Queen Bee, the Brat Guy, Louie, and Muncheez Pizza!
But that changes. 3 years from now almost everybody I knew there will be gone. Next summer is my first reunion (what what, 4, 5, and 6 year cluster reunion with 2008-2010 classes!) I look forward to watching Lawrence grow and build new dorms and offices. I will definitely visit this fall, but the time has come to move on. It always felt somehow lacking without the Grill anyway…. RIP Viking Melts and Hot Dogs at 1pm on Saturdays.
Goodbye, Lenin. I mean Lawrence.
Lawrence Era in Numbers
9 Years of my Life
7 Years on Campus
4 Years in Kohler Hall
3 Years on staff
3 Diseases (including Osteoporosis!)
2 years in Plantz Hall
2 years as an RLA
2 years as Welcome Week Leader
1 year as Hall Council President
1 year as Hall Council Secretary
1 year in Sage Hall
1 F (in PsychoPharmacology)
1 Sexuality Tweak (Sexual to Asexual)
1 Obsession with Portal & Doctor Who
Countless great friends and memories