by Rachel Beck, Class of 2004
First week of freshman year. I’m running late. But I’m also lost, so my hurried pace has stalled, and I stand near New England Building shifting my body weight north and south, trying to commit to a direction. Another student approaches, and she’s everything I’m not: stylish, assured, oriented. Definitely not a freshman. I don’t want to bother her, but she’s clearly seen my kind before. She smiles and asks if I need help.
Trying not to sound like I think she’s the Second Coming, I tell her that yes, I’m… looking for Skinner Hall?
She leads me over to Olmsted Hall. When we reach the top of the stairs, we stop simultaneously. Beyond and below us lie the Shakespeare Garden, the creek, and the castle that is Skinner. I want more than anything to not seem like the bumbling small-town girl that I am, but I’m awestruck. I stare. My mouth opens. Movie-score music swells in my ears. The girl, this epitome of collegiate sophistication, waits a beat. Then she gives a little laugh and gestures towards the expanse. “And that,” she says, “is basically why I came to Vassar.”