A First Year in Review

With the year winding down (or maybe not in the case of final papers and exams) I have decided to reflect on all of the contents of my first year as a crusader.

Starting out the year with knowing absolutely no one on campus I had no clue how my first year at college was going to be. Would I make friends? Would I enjoy my classes? Would I stay at Holy Cross after my first year was over? If I could travel back in time I would tell past-me that the answer to all of those questions was a resounding yes.

Some of my best friends are those who I first met during fall orientation.  As I discussed with our friend group last night, while we’ve only known each other since last August, it feels as though I’ve shared a lifetime with them already. Through classes and extra-curricular activities such as mock trial and moot court, I made friends that have impacted me in ways that I never thought were imaginable. When people claim that the Holy Cross community is like a family, they aren’t just saying that to sound cute, they really mean it.

College classes were my second biggest concern. Looking back at all my courses, I can say that I enjoyed every single one so far. All of my professors were dedicated to seeing their students succeed in their classes. And while the course work at Holy Cross is very rigorous, with the right amount of dedication and effort anything is manageable.  The class content has always been interesting and engaging, and I can say that because of my first year of Holy Cross education I have become both a better student and citizen.

I almost laugh at myself when I think back to the time when I thought there might be a chance that I would transfer from Holy Cross at the end of my first year. I wouldn’t trade away any part of my first year at Holy Cross for anything in the world, even those stressful nights studying for exams or writing papers. The friends, the memories I’ve made with those friends, and everything else I experienced during my first year has made a lasting impact on me.

My experiences at Holy Cross have changed me for the better; I wouldn’t trade that away for anything.

My first-year home, Hanselman Hall.

A Campus Away From Campus

While Holy Cross has a wonderful campus with essentially unlimited extracurricular opportunities, I do have to admit that sometimes you develop that need to get away from campus for a few hours. Thankfully, the college has its very own retreat center less than 25 minutes away!

Holy Cross’s retreat center, the Joyce Contemplative Center, presents students with an amazing opportunity to get away from what can sometimes be a busy campus and simply slow things down to reflect on life. Located on a hilltop that overlooks gorgeous hills and a waterway, the JCC always offers an amazing sunset for students to look at! Most of the college’s retreats are held at the JCC. There are retreats for first-year students, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a variety of other retreats that offer amazing opportunities. I definitely recommend trying to get to the JCC at least once during your first year at Holy Cross!

On a snowy day in February, I and my Montserrat classmates piled into school vans at Hogan to make the journey to the JCC. While pulling up the driveway our gaze was met with a beautiful contemporary building that just screamed: “forget about all your classes for an hour and just relax!” In the snow and cold, we all dashed to the entrance where we were greeted by a cozy crackling fireplace and a spacious dining room. On the left side of the building, there were hotel rooms for overnight retreats and there was a beautiful fully glass contemplation room that overlooks the surrounding nature located in the back of the building where we ended up performing our group presentations.

The main attraction for students is not just the beautiful building, the serene campus, or the escape from coursework. No, what do college students love almost more than anything else? FOOD of course! The JCC is renowned for dishing out some of the tastiest meals every single crusader has ever experienced in their lives. My meal was no different. With chicken parm as the main course with fresh veggies, salad, pasta, and garlic bread as sides I was stuffed. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that they also have freshly baked cookies for dessert?

Whether it’s for the retreat, the beautiful building, the serene campus, or the food; I can’t recommend going to the JCC at least once during your freshmen year!

An aerial shot of the Joyce Contemplative Center during the fall
A view of the deck of the JCC that overlooks the surrounding nature
Take a virtual tour of the JCC!