The Fordham First Year Experience: Three Rams Recall Personal Journeys


The transition from high school to college is different for everyone. (Courtesy of Facebook)

By Mariana Beltran Hernandez, Katherine Timofeyev, Thomas Tedesco


Mariana Beltran Hernandez – A Whirlwind of Feelings and Memories

It’s 1:15 a.m. I turn my key in my door and tiptoe in quietly so as not to wake up my roommates. I quickly realize that they’ve both already gone home for break. It’s oddly quiet. I’ve grown so used to the noise of other people, whether it be conversation, laughter or just the sound of breathing.
There’s only a few weeks left before the semester ends and I’m already thinking about how hard this summer is going to be. I climb into bed and prepare to say good night, but no one’s there. I cannot wait until break is over — the room feels too empty without my roommates.

At 5:00 p.m, I sit on a Ram Van headed towards Lincoln Center. We drive past the LC fountain and I make sure to catch a view of it, trying to ingrain every single detail into my memory. I step off the van and meet up with my friend for dinner.

What I love about this city is its ability to change your plans. We catch a subway down to the Village for dessert. We sit on a stoop and talk for hours. We finally leave around 11:30 p.m and head towards the subway, grateful for good food, public transit and New York City.

2:20 p.m. I’m speed-walking across campus because, of course, Starbucks has made me late. I arrive exactly on time, jumping onto the Ram Van and off to Jumpstart. Two times a week, two hours each, in a classroom with four-year-olds, helping them increase their literacy through activities and games.

The kids give me life and the Jumpstart team members have become some of my closest friends. I’m reminded daily that I came to Fordham for an opportunity like this. How incredibly lucky we are to be given the chance to engage with the Bronx community.

Then at 8:00 a.m, I wake up and, for a moment, I’ve forgotten where I am. I still haven’t gotten used to being here but, simultaneously, I can’t seem to remember life before college. Fordham sometimes feels like such a bubble, separated from the outside world. I’ve grown so attached to everything about it. As I sit up, I run through my daily schedule, starting with my morning gratefuls, an idea given to me by one of the many Jesuits on campus.

So what am I grateful for today? I’m grateful for the support system here, with friends and professors who have become friends. I’m grateful for the opportunities to engage with the community around me, I’m grateful for New York City, the good and the bad.

Finally, I’m grateful that my journey has led me to Fordham. Summer will be hard but it’ll lead me back here in the fall and I cannot wait to see what the next three years here will offer.


Thomas Tedesco – Expectations, Realizations and the Struggle to Adapt

I’m not sure there is such a thing as a universal freshman year experience. Leaving home can mean trading San Diego sun for New York snow or just taking the 4 train a borough over.

There are only two things I can speak truthfully and accurately about: my personal transition from high school to college and what might have been different had I not gone to Fordham.

I went to high school in Bergen County, New Jersey — the NJ county closest to Fordham. Location was a big reason my mom wanted me to come here. Westwood Regional High School was my home away from home and I had made it that way. I participated in the marching band and academic decathlon team, I played “Super Smash Bros. Melee” every weekend with friends, I had a great relationship and I was valedictorian of my class. You could say I had found my niche.

Fordham was one of the first acceptances I received, but I opened that email with little more than a passing thought. I received a financial scholarship, so that was nice, but I still had my sights set on Ivy Leagues. As the admissions kept rolling in and everything that wasn’t an outright rejection was obscenely expensive, I began to seriously entertain the idea of going to Fordham. I went to a spring Accepted Students Day and started to see Fordham as a prestigious school with a beautiful campus in a great location. I felt completely satisfied the day I committed to Fordham.

An aside: I’ve struggled with depression since my sophomore year of high school. The first symptoms were brought on by things like the PSAT exam and my Driver’s license test. Anything with lasting implications for my future brought out the worst of my symptoms.

When I sat on Eddie’s on Aug. 27 with my orientation group for the first time, I was in the midst of a depressive episode. Such a transition was stressful for a naturally introverted person who flourished in a small town with a close-knit group of friends. The 30 miles between me and my hometown may as well have been a thousand miles. I closed up completely, and within a month I knew I needed to go home for my own mental health. I set about withdrawing with absolute certainty that Fordham was not the school for me. But that’s when Fordham showcased, yet again, its ability to make me question what I thought I wanted.

The Fordham faculty made the process of leaving as frustrating as possible, and I am grateful for that. Every professor who I emailed goodbye replied on the same day with well wishes and thank-yous for my class contributions. I had to meet with various deans three times. My mom’s words echoed, “If you had tried to withdraw from any other school, they would’ve handed you a slip and said goodbye.” By the end of the whole ordeal, Fordham whittled me down to a medical leave of absence with possibility of returning in the spring.

Despite everything, here I am at Fordham again. I have found my niche writing for the Ram and playing in the Pep Band. I have a great group of friends who go out with me on the weekends and study with me every weekday. I’m closer with my friends from back home than I’ve ever been and I still see them over breaks and on weekends, which is when we go to college tournaments for the same game we used to play in each other’s basements.

I have a few regrets from last semester, but one thing I will never regret is my leave. That was my journey. It was what I needed to grow and make a home here, and now I’ve built something that will last.

There are a lot of things in life that you have to face when you’re not prepared. The lessons you learn throughout these trials are what you wish you knew in the beginning. That’s the curse of hindsight. Freshmen year is one of those tests you can’t prepare for, but you make it through.


Katherine Timofeyev – From Homesickness to Happiness

The first thing I remember after my parents left is Eddie’s. For what felt like eternities between sunrise and sunset throughout three blazing August days, I sat with ten strangers. Upperclassmen and staff bombarded us with seemingly endless information about college that we couldn’t possibly remember. I carefully made friends within these groups and was sad to say goodbye, knowing I’d likely never see them again.

Personally, this was the most off-putting part about these small groups: we spent three entire days bonding just to part at the end. At the very least, I had someone to smile at when walking around campus.

Once classes began, it was a whole different game. Between frantically searching for buildings and sitting alone in my room when I had a long break between classes, the first week was chaotic. Although many upperclassmen implied it would be easy, with nicknames such as “sylly-week,” it seemed the complete opposite.

For many, this is when the first wave of homesickness hit. Pictures of best friends on my wall only made me miss them more. I would have done just about anything for a home-cooked meal. Everything seemed confusing and scary.

This made me feel alone, especially in the beginning when I barely knew my roommates and ate most meals alone. It was hard to process. In high school, I almost always had someone to walk to class with. In college, I had to learn to be alone, whether that meant spending time between classes on my own or learning to enjoy having an evening to myself.

However, as time passed, the loneliness subsided. I found myself constantly spotting familiar faces. Especially at Fordham, everyone offers a friendly smile and is more than happy to offer company. Fordham also helps by offering programs that encourage people to meet other students, such as the Manresa kayaking trip.

As weeks passed by, I adapted. I figured out when and where to have meals and where I preferred to study. I learned to enjoy spending time by myself and to balance my work schedule. Just when I finally found a consistent routine, the semester ended, and I had to start all over again. But this time, I felt more confident. I already knew my favorite place to eat and had friends to hang out with every night.

Of course, this part came with its own challenges. Life became divided — at college, I missed home. But at home, I missed college. It’s a constant battle between missing things, which in a way is positive. It means I have become comfortable on campus and most of the hardships of transitioning are over.

I can happily say it’s been an incredible year. College is full of constant change that everyone has no choice but to blindly leap into. I’ve learned a great amount and have met some absolutely incredible people. I can’t wait to see what my next few years will bring.