college life, family

the half-mute move-in

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, the first twenty-four hours of my college experience are over, and I can’t stop laughing because, well, here’s the thing: I can no longer talk.

Alright, I guess I should start at the beginning. Yesterday, after spending about five (mostly) peaceful hours in the car with my parents and my sister, I finally checked into my residence hall. It was incredibly hectic trying to unpack all of my stuff with three other people in the room, especially with my head feeling like a boulder.

Ah–okay, that’s not the beginning. This whole thing really started on Thursday, when woke up and realized I was sick.

Yes, I got sick just before my move-in day. Thankfully it’s just a cold–a bad one, but a cold nonetheless. I only slept about two hours Friday night, partly because of nerves but mainly because my head was so stuffed up I couldn’t breathe properly. I spent the early hours of yesterday (Saturday) morning having a very long nose-blowing party. I also couldn’t help but be a little creeped out by how empty my (former) room looked without my suitcases and boxes in it. I ended up closing the closet because the shadows made it look like there was somebody standing in the corner. (I’m clearly mature enough to be in college.)

Come daylight I still felt pretty awful, but I wasn’t as congested, and by the end of the drive it seemed like I was on the mend. After my family left yesterday afternoon it hit me that I was actually in college, and I spent the next few hours being psyched about that. (I’m still psyched. I don’t think the feeling will go away.) It was great hanging out and talking with my roommate, and she showed me how to use her electric kettle so I can make tea, which is total lifesaver. By dinner I’d realized being sick wasn’t affecting what I could do, so I decided to go to last night’s UCSB Week of Welcome event, this s’mores get-together thing.

The s’mores was delicious, and it was pretty awesome meeting people. It was really intimidating at first seeing the huge crowd–they all looked so tall and so much older than me and holy shit everyone here is so good-looking–but I ended up having a good time. Sadly, the good time ended when I realized how much my chest hurt. The combination of the nose-blowing party and the loud talking at the actual party had put enough stress on my lungs that they’d started to ache. I turned in early, took a shower, downed a ton of cold medicine, texted my sister for a while, and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, my chest hardly hurt anymore. I’m actually feeling much better now, and almost all of my symptoms are gone. I would be 100% on going to the “Ice Cream Social” tonight if not for one stupid factor: I’ve lost my voice.

This wouldn’t be an issue at any other time, but talking is pretty essential if I want to make any friends. I went to lunch alone today and ended up eating with two girls from my hall, but we could hardly have a conversation. It’s not that it hurts to talk; I’m just not physically able to do it. I can whisper, but when I try to talk aloud it either doesn’t come out at all or it comes out in pieces, like a skipping record. Every once in a while I get out a whole sentence. People have been cool about it, and I’ve actually had some great conversations with people in my hall in my better moments, but it’s frustrating to have so much to say and to be forced to either keep quiet or risk embarrassing myself by trying to speak. I’ve ended up communicating partly with post-it notes when my voice is really gone.

A little strange, but it works.

A little strange, but it works.

Despite how annoying this is, I don’t actually mind that much. I’ve been staying in my room and trying to get better, and I like having time to myself. This entire coming week is the Week of Welcome, so I’m sure I’ll be meeting more people and doing activities before (and after) classes start. It’s kind of hilarious, though. At this moment, I’ve spent about half of my college experience half-mute! It’s an ironic situation, if nothing else.

This time spent in tea-drinking (and blogging) solitude has also made me realize how dynamic the change is. I knew college was different, but it’s really in my face now that I’m here. My summer was wholly obligation-free, so the lack of things to do isn’t new in that sense, but compared to high school–to every other September of my life, actually–I have an incredible amount of free time. Since classes haven’t started yet, my only options aside from hiding in my dorm are hanging out with the people in my hall, going to scheduled social events, and partying in Isla Vista, or IV. (I’m not really a partier, but there is a huge party scene there. It’s a little crazy for my first week, but an option.) Sure, I have to deal with figuring out when I’ll eat and who I’ll go places with, and it’s stressful knowing so few people, but when it comes down to it I can do whatever I want.

Funnily enough, I feel like I can read more now than I did during the summer. There’s no real difference, of course; it’s just that I’m so aware of how I use my time. I feel like I should plan it all out, but a lot of what I’ve been doing is spur-of-the-moment. I’ve been setting up my schedule for when instruction begins, and it’s become clear that there are wide gaps. Granted, I’ll be spending a lot of that time studying and working out, but still. I’ve been looking forward to this freedom for so long, and now I hardly know what to do with it. I really want classes to start. (Hell, I really want to get my voice back, but I know I’ll be able to talk by then, so I’m just going with that.)

In closing: college is awesome, sickness is not, and I’ve found that it’s indeed possible to meet new people when you have no voice. There are just some obstacles.

My throat tickles. I think I might make some more tea.

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