Mark's Meanderings. by Mark Stoller

Mark’s Meanderings

Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate. 

Ava Stoller is covering for Mark (her dad) this month. Ava wrote for the NFH before she left for college. 

My first year at college

By Ava Stoller

Last August, I moved into my freshmen dorm room at college, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. After finishing this year, I have learned a lot and would like to share my newfound knowledge and experiences. 

The first semester felt like an extended sleep-away camp. I was so homesick that I cried every day for the first week and was extremely anxious to leave my dorm room. Thankfully, I had an amazing roommate who dragged me out of the room to attend the welcome events, and there I found my now best friend. I relearned how to ride a bike, memorized how to get to my classes and found where they hid the good food on campus. 

It was great when relatives would send letters or packages. My older sister decided to write me a letter in 18th century style, and I had the best time using a thesaurus to write letters back. I tried to come home at least once a month for a weekend because no matter how much I called home (video calls just aren’t the same), and laundry was expensive. We had two weeks of classes left (plus finals) after Thanksgiving break, and it was the hardest two weeks to get through because I had no motivation left. However, my roommate and I bonded over stress eating a spoonful of Nutella at 2 a.m. every night.

It took me a week to acclimate to living back at home on winter break. I had gotten used to seeing my friends every day and having activities to go to. The boredom quickly went away when family gatherings became frequent for Christmas.

Second semester was difficult. When the first semester felt like camp, the second felt like a deployment. There were no holidays to look forward to, no breaks for three months, the weather was cold and gray, and I got less mail. 

On the bright side, cold weather brought a snow day, and I spent all day with my friends where we watched Frozen 1 and 2. After a while, I felt like I “kinda” got the hang of this college thing because I tried to focus not just on school work, but also on making new friends and attending events, like swing dancing class. Before I knew it, going home was harder than just staying on campus. 

 I also learned some helpful tidbits: Use public transportation when the sidewalks are too icy to ride a bike, wear grippy shoes when it snows because slipping sucks — and Doordash is a lifesaver on nights you don’t want to walk to the dining hall. 

My advice for people going into college: Feed and water yourself every day and get some sun. Find people you like and can be yourself around them. Making friends is hard, but worth it. Get a plant and name it — I got a rock plant and named it Lil’ Dwayne. Leave earlier than you think for classes because 10 minutes is not enough time to get to them. Have cold medicine on hand for when you get sick. When you get home, set new boundaries with family because whether or not you see it — you’ve changed.

Advice for family with kids in college: Your letters, calls and packages mean more than you know. Send food and snacks — dining hall food sucks after a while. Give space for your kids to learn and grow — that’s what college is for. Check-in via text or call because college can get busy, but we still want to know we are thought of and loved.

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About the author

Mark Stoller

Mark Stoller and his wife, Andra, moved to Falcon with their family in 2007. Both are U.S. Air Force veterans and enjoy life with their daughters, ex-tended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark is fortunate to have his wife and daughters as his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investi-gate.

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