What Do Freshman Write About?

Last Thursday, I had the interesting privilege of sitting in on an afternoon’s English class. I observed the class taught by Dr. Lux, the woman who was my own English professor a few years back. I spent two semesters with her, during my freshman year at Georgia Tech., learning about poetry and poems and figurative language. During her class, I performed, ‘This be the Verse’ by Philip Larkin, and this was the first time the word ‘fuck’ fell so cleanly from my mouth. During these two semesters I recall that I felt especially homesick, and Dr. Lux and I reminisced on the day when I read a handwritten poem aloud to my classmates, balling as the words trickled from my mouth, for I was too nostalgic to gather myself. I learned a great deal in Dr. Lux’s class (she truly sparked my appreciation for poetry), and I was very eager to see how this freshman class responded to poetry.

 On the day that I observed Dr. Lux’s class, I was primarily interested in what topics her students would talk about. As a freshman, due to the fact that I was horribly homesick, the content of my poems solely consisted of mom, dad, sisters, and New Jersey, even Newark Airport, and it was truly fascinating to see that these students were not much different than I was, nearly three years ago. They spoke of their relationships with their mothers, fathers, siblings, and hometowns. They also mentioned their love of home cooked foods, and the traditions of their grandparents. They also spoke of their childhood pets and their favorite hobbies and the places they most felt at ease. It sincerely put the largest of grins on my face, to see that these freshmen students value their homes and the places they come from.  

 It doesn’t shock me that these were the chosen topics of the students. I am not surprised that the one girl, from Boston, in the class prefaced her poem by saying, “since none of you are from the north, you probably aren’t going to understand what I’m saying- GO REDSOCKS.” What truly astonishes me is the freshman student, although not present in this class, who declares that they resent their home life, their mom and dad, and they plan on never returning to the place they grew up. I feel so unhappy for students like those, and I honestly have come across many. Even in Dr. Lux’s class, a few international students read poems about family hardships and difficult decisions families had to make; however, there was still a sense of pride for their loved ones. Personally, I am a true patriot to the place I come from and the people back home who support me. They are all still topics of my poems, even as a junior in college, and probably that is something that will remain stagnant. Freshman year is truly a year of outsized changes and enormous boughs of acclimation. Family appears more important than previous years because without them, fending for yourself seems like someone has stolen a body part from you.

 I suppose some things never change- one’s love for their family, home, home-cooked meals, grandparents, dogs, and the town you grew up.

 XOXO

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