As the sun peeked out early Monday morning, signaling both the end of Hurricane Irene for Central New York, and the beginning of the school year for Syracuse University students, some students remained in Irene’s wake instead of on campus for day one of classes.
Aasimah Navlakhi, an arts journalism graduate student, spent her first day of school stuck in a Boston bus station for seven hours after three buses that should have brought her home had all been cancelled because of flooding.
“I feel cheated,” she said, “You go to grad school to go to grad school. Missing the first day feels like missing the opening act of a play. You can’t get in at the intermission.”
For those fortunate enough to make it back to the ‘Cuse on time and unscathed, sun, shorts and shades were the order of the day, making Sunday’s hurricane seem just a distant memory.
Schine Student Center was a bustling hub of activity as students funneled in to buy books, find friends, eat lunch or pass time before scurrying off to class. Some students grouped, ambling back and forth across campus sans books, taking in the day, class an afterthought to socializing.
Hugs were shared all around as old friends and classmates were reunited after summers of fun/work/boredom. First-year students strolled solo, toting bursting SU bookstore bags, looking wide-eyed and slightly lost.
David Ciuk, a first-year management student at the Whitman School of Management, didn’t get lost and said he felt good about his first day of college.
“It went pretty well,” Ciuk said, “It’s just an eye-opener to see how much different college is from high school and how much more effort we have to put in.”
Freshman Tatiana Turner from Atlanta was glad to be at SU and was ready for the extra effort she knows is necessary in college.
“Today was interesting. It wasn’t as bad as high school,” Turner said. “I’m excited, but nervous about the work; I just want to make sure I can manage it.”
As class levels advance and first days of school become second nature, the excitement turns toward the prospect of graduation rather than a first-year’s flurry of newness: new teachers, new friends, new lessons, new challenges. What’s new for a senior is not the way the first day of school feels, but how life is going to feel when there are no more first days of school.
For senior Jared Diamond, today marked both a beginning and an end as he finishes a bachelor’s degree in finance at the Whitman School.
“This is my last first day of school,” Diamond said. “And I’m excited.”