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Monday, May 20, 2024

An ode to going to school with your older brother

“I’m definitely not going to Middlebury — that’s Joe’s school.” I made this bold claim over a year ago as I began applying to colleges. My brother and I have always been close, but I was so opposed to going to a tiny school with him that I didn’t want to look any further into Middlebury. I had decided that my engagement with the college would remain limited to the stories I had heard from him. In mid-November, however, my parents convinced me to tour campus. It was the most unseasonably warm and beautiful day, and after getting one look at the campus full of life, I immediately had to eat my words. 

My brother and his friends walked me around campus, highlighting only the most stunning of study spots, picnic places and classrooms. I decided I did, in fact, want to come to Middlebury, so when I got accepted in late March, I was thrilled — although still a bit hesitant about the commitment of attending school with my older brother. After much convincing from him about the wonders of taking a gap semester, the endless internship opportunities, close-knit communities and personal connections with professors, I decided Middlebury was where I should be. 

Jump forward almost an entire year: I’m attempting to park and unload my ridiculous amount of trinkets for my tiny triple dorm room. The chaos of the day that I had been dreaming about for ages was finally here, and I was even less organized than I anticipated. I can’t say that my brother was that helpful in the actual process of physically moving in, but he did serve the equally, if not more important, role of making fun of our parents — who desperately needed to drive home at this point. I was trying not to be overwhelmed by the chaos of it all. 

After each day of orientation, I was wiped out from the most social interaction I had experienced  in months. I felt like I was making some friends, but I was really on edge about it all. It is nerve wracking coming into a school with pre-set social dynamics in the middle of winter. I was experiencing feelings of loneliness, as I expected, but I also had more unexpected feelings of comfort, which came from being surrounded by my brother and his iconic friends whom I love and look up to. As orientation started to come to an end and I started to have to think about class registration and real school, I was so anxious — I hadn’t used my brain in a school setting in months, and I had no clue how to get into the classes I wanted — but, once again, my brother was right there to help guide me. Even though he made fun of me for my baby Feb anxieties, he was still there to walk me through all the questions I had. I actually even started to annoy myself by constantly referring back to the advice my older brother gave to me when talking to my fellow Febs.  

As the conversations among my classmates started to shift away from the classic “what did you do with your gap semester” and I could finally start to remember their hometowns, I began to truly fall in love with this special community of passionate and interesting people. My classes picked up speed from the very beginning, but all of my fears of not being in school for months melted away as I tried to learn simply for learning's sake. Even though I was scared and anxious to join a close-knit campus, I’ve learned these first few weeks how lovely people are, and have realized it's probably going to be okay if we all take care of each other.

This first real weekend of college, the 100th annual Middlebury Winter Carnival, was filled with introductions of my newfound friends to my brother mixed with calls from him about events and endless “this is my baby Feb sister” introductions. Being in a social setting with my big brother was an experience I had been thinking about since I first submitted my application to Middlebury, but it was more fun than I ever could have imagined. I love getting to have so many older friends and mentors built into my life. Being a Feb is fabulous because of the way the time out of the classroom allowed me to mature, take time to find the things I care about and get excited to learn again. And frankly, going to school with my brother has been wonderful as well… for now at least.



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