As a general rule, I am very slow to adjust to change. Because of this, my freshman year at K-State (particularly the first half of the first semester) was full of ups and downs and bumps in the road. Growing up is a process, and it isn’t always easy.
The best way I found to reduce stress about being in an unfamiliar place may seem obvious – get to know the adorable city of Manhattan! Familiarity works wonders. It is far too easy to simply hole up in the dorms and never expand your horizons beyond the four walls of your 8×12 cell.
Some of my favorite memories come from times I spent (whether alone or with friends) exploring MHK (and when I say MHK I don’t simply mean Aggieville, although that can be fun as well) and getting to know Downtown and the parks and little hidden spots that very few people seem to ever visit. I made some of my first friends here by going along when people from my campus ministry group issued a general invitation to Dirty Dawgs. I ran into some Sigma Alpha sisters there as well, which made the evening even more fun. I didn’t come from a stereotypically rural background, so I had no idea how to dance and I didn’t know any of the songs, but it was a fun time nonetheless, and definitely helped me transition from misery to excitement about living in Manhattan.
I love walking to Radina’s on a Saturday morning or riding my bicycle to the park. I love sitting in Hale Library, doing homework and people-watching. Only yesterday I went to the Grand Old Trunk, which I now adore. The thrift store is on a piece of land that I think was probably once house and outbuildings; the majority of the shop is contained in a large corrugated-tin shed. It’s the kind of place I used to frequent with my parents as a little kid, the kind of thrift store that smells musty and peculiar, the kind of place that doesn’t throw anything away.
Everything is roughly organized into…piles, I suppose. Organized is a loose term. But there’s gold to be found if you dig, and I did dig, and I found two white Pyrex mixing bowls, the kind my grandma used to make sugar cookies when I was a little girl. They were unwashed and unlabeled and the proprietor gave me a deal, both for $4. I also bought a cup, fairly small, that feels like stoneware and has a green pattern of ox yokes and plows on it! Very Sigma Alpha, I thought. The books are all in a tiny tiny house behind the gargantuan shed. There are even books stacked in the (nonfunctional) kitchen sink. I found The Silver Branch and That Darn Cat, both in dime-store pulp-fiction-looking editions and, excitingly, the 1953 Singer Sewing Book. I think the total for all of this came to about $7.
So for those of you who still feel out of place here, or for those of you coming in the future, get to know our lovely town. Get to know the Konza prairie and Manhattan Hill and the way the sun looks when it begins to rise above the quad on Waters Lawn at 7:15 in the morning. Pet Oliver, the rambunctious kitten in the Dusty Bookshelf, and spend far too much time getting lost in the stacks. Although initially I was very nervous to leave my home and family behind, I could not be happier to be a part of the K-State community (Manhappiness!), and I promise that you will eventually feel that way too.