Monday, August 31, 2015

Fall 2005, Never Forget (Part 1)

I'll be the first to admit that my memory isn't the greatest, especially with details and when time is involved.  But, Fall 2005 is a semester I will never forget.  The year 2005 in general was a pretty big one for me - I graduated high school, enjoyed a super fun celebratory cruise with my family and two good friends, and as most high school graduates do...I started college.  That last part, the starting college part, is the part I will never forget.

For months, my mom and I visited colleges all over the state of Louisiana.  Just when we thought we'd found the perfect place, I decided to check out one last school, mostly because the school required all scholarship recipients to attend a day-long event on campus in order to learn the value of the scholarship they received.  It was one of those, "Well, we may as well," type of things, expecting no big "wow factor" in return.  As it turns out, wow-factor indeed.  Not only did this school offer me the largest scholarship of any other, everything I saw/experienced there shouted "this is the place," and my mom and I just knew in our hearts on the drive home that day, Nicholls State University was the place for me.

Fast forward a few months, that first week of school was a little rocky.  I expected to know no one going into the semester, but just before school started one of my best friends from home decided to attend Nicholls too!  The issue?  He was a guy, so we couldn't room together on campus.  Somehow, I'd been assigned to share a room with a Junior who already had her friend group very well established (they shared a suite with us, actually), and was also practically engaged to her boyfriend.  Awkward, much?

Social media wasn't a "thing" in 2005, so this is the only photo I could find from that semester.
Of course, I'm second from the right, and Jen is on the far right of this photo.
As the first week came to a close, I asked around about switching rooms, and whether there was anyone (a freshman) willing to share with me.  An acquaintance offered one of her friends, and though I had never met the girl (we're still great friends, 10 years later, by the way!), I figured anything was better than the current situation, so I agreed to make the switch.  The one catch was that we'd have to move out of our first floor hotel-style (indoor access) rooms across the building to a second floor motel-style (outdoor access) room that was much more dated.  It was also Friday, by that point, and we both planned to leave campus for the weekend.  We went with it, however, and scrambled to haul all our stuff across the building, setting up only the bare minimums before we peeled out for the weekend.

We changed our room arrangement nearly every semester, so I couldn't tell you which version this was!
I didn't go too far, however.  My parents met me at a campground about mid-way between our house and the school, with plans for my mom and I to do some shopping and setting up the dorm room while my dad and brother spent the day fishing on the lake.  As my mom and I navigated the Walmart (on Saturday, August 27th) aisles looking for the perfect "homey" finishes to our now cold, grimy room, we started to notice something a little unusual.  As typical for a Saturday, Walmart was packed that day...but people weren't buying just anything.  Shopping carts were filled with supplies - water, bread, batteries, generators.  What was going on???

At about the same time we noticed something was awry, my dad called and said that we really might want to consider heading home that afternoon instead of the following day (Sunday) as planned.  He said he kept hearing that there was a storm headed toward Louisiana and it didn't sound good.  At the time, the "cone of uncertainty" included all of Louisiana and he would feel much more comfortable if we could get home to prep the house in case it took a turn more for the west.  And, in the event that evacuations were ordered, my parents definitely didn't want to be on the road in all of that traffic.

At that point, I don't think I'd even heard there was a storm in the gulf, much less one headed our way.  I guess that fresh-college life had kept me out of the loop on those things (and remember, this was before social media was a thing).  We had so many questions - is there time to take our purchases and go set up the dorm?  Do I stay at school when my parents leave town?  Do I go home with my parents?  Will we even have school on Monday?

Without really knowing what to expect, my parents decided it would be best for me to go ahead and come home with them, following in my car so I could get back to school when necessary.  We just all figured it was better to be safe than sorry, and professors would understand if I missed class out of extreme caution.  I packed a few things, and figured I'd be back on campus in no time.

Magnet letters totally became our thing, right, Jen?
Little did I know, my world was about to change.  (To be continued...)



Jen said...

Yikes, I'm so glad our looks have improved since college! LOL.And I seriously didn't know you had a similar experience when choosing a school...I really thought I was going to UL but my mom and I figured we would go to Scholars Day "just to see" what was offered. And we felt like the place was calling my name too! So crazy.

The Siberian American said...

I had a rocky roommate situation my first year in college too! I was so glad when I could move in with friends my sophomore year. :)