By Allison Bolt
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
Freshmen year — words that strike fear into the most confident of high school seniors. Whether you were proclaimed in your yearbook to be the class clown, most likely to succeed, best dressed or any other superlative, you are now entering an entirely new realm. You have chosen SCAD and as upperclassmen, we commend you on your wonderful choice. You now find yourself among the ranks of an extremely talented, creative and driven freshman class. You have already conquered the difficult decision of which college to attend, stepped outside the norm and chosen an art school, and left home to attend. You should commend yourself on your bravery.
Soon you will find yourself in foundations classes. You’ll sit in Drawing I and suddenly be overwhelmed by the challenges that have been thrown at you. Luckily, some of the world’s greatest novelists are here to give some insight on how to handle all of these new, and sometimes frightening, elements of your life.
“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”
“Fahrenheit 45” by Ray Bradbury
The first daunting task of your first year is, of course, “I don’t know anyone.” Making new friends is difficult for most people. At orientation, you will encounter outgoing students who seem to be able to talk to anyone and everyone. They march into orientation with a ready-made group of friends surrounding them that they only met a few hours ago. You may wonder, how do they do it? I will tell you the only tip that you need to know when it comes to meeting new people, is to just talk. I promise that the majority of people in orientation are just as alone and terrified as you are. One small “hello” or a kind word will start the conversation. Once the conversation is going you’re free to relax because the hard part is over.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Once you have said the first “hello” to countless freshmen at orientation, exchanged numbers and returned to your dorm, it’s easy to lose track. One thing people do not tell you about college: you will meet a plethora of people but will only remain friends with a few. This is not a bad thing. I repeat, this is ok. To actually form a reliable and true friendship requires time and getting to know that person. You can’t be expected to balance classes and form lasting friendships with thirty people all at once. This is not to say that you won’t have thirty friends. It’s more to say that you will find a few close friends that become your family while away from home. Take the time to get to know them and be there for them and they will return the favor.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.”
“Dune” by Frank Herbert
So you entered art school as a photography major and have absolutely no design experience, or in my case, you entered art school as a writing major absent of drawing experience, yet you’re expected to pass all of these drawing courses. Maybe you are extremely experienced but still nervous to hang your work in front of the class. Don’t let fear ruin anything about your freshman year. Whether it’s making that first mark in Drawing I, hanging your work up for critique, meeting new people, sitting alone in the hub — never let fear consume you. Freshmen year is all about trying hundreds of new things. That familiar feeling of your stomach in knots will subside the moment you take the leap.
“I don’t like work— no man does— but I like what is in the work— the chance to find yourself.”
“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
In case you missed the student-made mantra that say SCAD actually stands for “Sleep Comes After Death,” you might want to be aware that your classes will be a lot of work. I’m sure you have figured this out by now, maybe just from doing your pre-quarter assignments or reading over your syllabus. This work load is challenging and necessary. These ten-week, labor intensive classes, taught by elite professors with extreme industry insight, will provide you with the utmost skill and knowledge. You will find your style, practice, craft, aesthetic, work ethic and so on. You will discover that you can not only handle the workload but enjoy it at the end of every quarter as your portfolio grows.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
“A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway
There will come a night when you find yourself sitting on your floor in Spring House with art supplies scattered all around you. You will look at the clock that reads 4:38 a.m. and have doubts. These are the moments when you must push forward. Whether it’s a harsh critique, an all-nighter, or a piece you are not proud of, you must push forward. We all know the typical “learn from your mistakes” quote, but Hemingway has a way of making it sound uplifting. You will have doubts, fears and days when you want to quit. Push through it and see how strong you can become.
“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
While you push forward, remember you are human. It is okay to cry or become frustrated or do whatever makes you feel better. In college, it is essential to stay in tune with yourself and take care of your body and mind. Do not be ashamed. Take some much needed “you” time, wipe the tears and keep pushing forward.
“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.”
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
At SCAD, you will find yourself in entirely new surroundings. You have been dropped off in the middle of Atlanta, alone, and now you must figure it out. As terrifying as this may sound, just think back to basic safety lessons we have all heard. Learn your surroundings, open up the map app on your phone and take a look around. Rely on the buddy system. Always travel with at least one other person, especially at night. Think about the situation or area you are in, and rely on your instincts. Remember, SCAD provides safe transportation whether it’s the shuttles or late-night SCAD Safe Rides. Be city smart when it comes to carrying cash, walking at night, carrying pepper spray and so on. Before you know it, Atlanta will be home and you will own the streets.
“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”
“Handle With Care” by Jodi Picoult
Homesickness — the feeling that is all too familiar for a freshman in college. Whether you moved thirty minutes away or from an entirely different country, homesickness is inevitable. Everyone feels homesickness in one way or another and it’s completely normal. In fact, it’s a good thing because you begin to develop a deeper love for the place you came from. Luckily, great ways to cope with homesickness are available to us in the age of iPhones and the internet. Facetime and phone calls with your family, or going out with friends to get your mind off everything, or even focusing on homework are all great ways to help cure homesickness. Before you know it, these ten weeks will end and you will be visiting home and missing SCAD.
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
“Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
The final fear that you will face as you get farther along in your SCAD career: what do I want to do with my life? This question can come into play so many times throughout your college experience. Whether it’s picking a major, trying to fill up a resume, finding a job or even just determining what you want for dinner that night, this question will haunt you. The good news is SCAD is here to help and so are your peers. Speak with your advisors, attend major and career fairs, try all types of classes, and simply learn what you like and what you don’t like. Everyone is always questioning who they are and what they want to do, even the most “adult” adults, I promise. Just relax and explore. You will soon find yourself piecing the puzzle together.