By Elisabeth Turner, Columnist
For those of us freshman hailing from morally humble backgrounds, college life may be a shocking experience. No, it's not as if we were previously unaware of what happens on a Saturday night behind sock-adorned doorknobs. It's not that we were ignorant of what's inside those plastic red cups given out at frat parties. It's just that we didn't previously expose ourselves to it. We didn't care and perhaps, still don't. Maybe now, we are merely curious.
Perhaps like me, you expected a drunken orgy or intoxicated brawl taking place upon your arrival at such a party. But what I found was a disappointment to my expectations. Sure orgies occur, sure brawls happen, I realized, but they're not part of the typical party scene.
Aside from what to expect at parties, I was always told to remain cautious when walking around campus at night. Having been on campus for a few weeks, and living all the way in Colonial Square rendered me a bit wary about walking back across campus alone. Those stories of unsuspecting freshman encountering hidden strangers in dark bushes surfaced to my mind. I could have called Public Safety for an escort. But instead, I decided to leave the library after a late night studying and started walking in the dark. Once I made it back safely, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I still study late nights in the library. Usually, I walk back with friends, but other times I will go back alone. It took me a while to finally realize that in reality, no one is hiding in those bushes – well, maybe a few squirrels . . .but no humans. That pepper spray zipped away in my bag might actually just be extra weight.
Finally, there was that day in late September when I boarded the Blue Beetle alone to go to the train station. I stepped onto the train, a messenger bag snug on my shoulder, my hand tightly gripping the cell phone resting in my palm. Undoubtedly, after walking up the stairwell and into Penn Station I made sure to keep my eyes focused straight ahead, to keep my breathing steady, and to walk quickly. This first moment on my own, under the sweet September sun was one of anxiety and nervousness. But it wouldn't last long.
It is now October and I have arrived at the conclusion that New York is just a city, a place with criminals, artists, and oddballs, just like every other place on the earth. Now, as chilly winds start to blow, I am able to step off the train, carefree, and inhale the city air. Now I can wrap my scarf around my neck and travel the distance between the library and my dorm –alone, under a blanket of stars. I embrace my Friday nights; I do as I please, mindful that Public Safety's only a phone call away, of the campus lights lining the sidewalks even of the friendly squirrels resting in the bushes.
It is now that I finally understand that things are the way they are supposed to be - being smart enough to know when something is wrong and assuredly sentimental enough to know when it is right. And here, things are right, things are safe. You - as I did- should use caution and common sense, but you should be yourself without heavy reservation. We may come from morally humble backgrounds, but we are nevertheless, knowledgeable and wise. Hofstra's campus may not be in the middle of nowhere, but it is by every means, a place where we can feel free to be ourselves.