Four Things I Learned In Four Years

Harley Marks, Senior Writer

As my time at Bucknell reaches a bittersweet conclusion, I have been reflecting on the experiences, challenges and opportunities that have shaped the past four years. It is hard to believe that 20 days from the moment I am writing this, I will be sitting on the quad with the senior class as we celebrate our tremendous collective achievements. 

Although painfully cliché in nature, I can still feel the fiery eagerness to join multiple campus communities, the unrelenting social anxiety of moving in with a dozen or so strangers and the pronounced uncertainty of entering a new life chapter that I felt during first year orientation four years ago. 

Being the ever-so-wise and seasoned upperclassman that I am (satire), I have taken it upon myself to bestow onto any underclassmen who may be reading this my advice and takeaways that may just transform your experience at Bucknell from average to exceptional.

Number One: Diversify your friendships 

It is easy to stay beholden to the first friends you made during First-year Fall for the rest of your time at Bucknell. In fact, keeping a small, limited circle is typical and within our comfort zone; there is no judgment when it comes to that choice. 

However, one of the best things that I did for myself during my time at Bucknell has been maintaining strong friendships with the first people I met, while at the same time nurturing new ones and expanding my social circle. 

Not only do people from all walks of life, passions, hobbies, campus involvements, etc. keep life more interesting, but they make you more interesting. I have arguably learned more from my friends and the breadth of diverse knowledge they’ve given me than I have from the classes I’ve taken. 

Not only do friends from different sectors of Bucknell’s offerings prevent the feelings of staleness and dullness that often emerge from the monotonous routine of academic life, but they may be able to be there for you in the future in ways that you cannot yet fathom. 

Number Two: Utilize your professors 

It seems obvious, but your professors are here because they are eager to help and are passionate about educating you. It took me until my Junior year to realize that I was not bothering my professors by asking for help, feedback or advice. 

Bucknell professors are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their work (it can be intimidating!), and I caution against underestimating just how much they can teach you. 

Sometimes we forget to humanize our professors, but if you can relate to them on a personal level and develop a rapport, class will be more enjoyable, it will be easier to ask for clarification on assignments and you will walk away from the course with more knowledge and fulfillment overall. 

Number Three: Get a campus job, join a club or do research with a professor 

I suppose this is three pieces of advice tied into one, but my suggestion here is to get involved. I have joined and left many organizations on campus such as Club Tennis, SpeakUp, Alpha Xi Delta, The Writing Center, The Bucknellian and, not until my senior year, Bucknell Student Government. 

I joined Bucknell with a fervor to be as involved as possible and, much to my dismay, Freshman year I was rejected from the Concert Committee (can you tell I’m over it?). It turns out that this rejection only instilled in me more motivation and eagerness to explore other options. 

Although I have loved all of the organizations I joined at Bucknell, the most rewarding for me has by far been the Writing Center. I applied to the training course for the Writing Center in my Sophomore year and was able to start working with writers my Junior fall. 

Since affiliating with the wonderful team there, I have been able to help countless students with writing of all disciplines, to meet fellow motivated and selfless students and to cultivate countless communicative and interpersonal skills. I recommend nothing more than getting involved on campus in areas you are passionate about. 

Number Four: Study abroad

In my Junior spring I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Granada, Spain for five months. I moved to a city (and country) I’d never been to, enrolled in a strictly Spanish-speaking school and lived with a host family for whom English was not a language they could understand.

I cannot put into words the value of this experience and the lasting impact that it will have on me. I got to explore tons of different cities and cultures and experience a lifestyle that is only presented once or twice in a lifetime. 

Leaving my home and routine at Bucknell and moving to a foreign country for five months was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But from this experience alone I was able to overcome numerous fears and obstacles, and I can confidently say that it has positively changed me and allowed me to grow as an individual. 

If you have the opportunity, studying abroad is one of the most surefire and immediate ways you can expand your horizons, learn from unique experiences and meet new people who will absolutely provide you with a new perspective and lease on life. 

I am saddened to leave Bucknell, but I am also confident and excited about the next chapter awaiting me. Do with these pieces of advice what you will, and with that, I’m signing off!

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