First Day

By Marcel Bergeron

2003 was my final year of high school. It would also be the last time I would attend a formal school for over a decade. I spent most of my high school career battling disappointment, fear, and confusion as I struggled to complete my classes. I eventually came to a point in life when I realized that to advance in my career, I needed to further my education. With a good support system and a lot of encouragement from my wife, I mustered the courage in 2016 to apply for college at Alaska Pacific University. That spring I opened a letter from APU and read the black, blue and gold letters that said: “Congratulations… Welcome to APU!” I felt my stomach sink to the floor, as I had flashbacks of high school. I also felt excitement about the new possibility of continuing my education.

Then in 2017, I attended my first on-campus lecture; all my previous APU courses were online so I never had to leave the comfort of my recliner. I remember walking up to the Grant Hall building to attend my class, walking across the finely groomed path that was covered with a thin layer of fresh snow. With each step I took, I could hear and feel the snow being compacted. The bright fluorescent lights completely lit the lobby, creating an outer glow to the entrance. Through the windows, I could see students sitting at tables, others conversing around the coffee shop, and some walking by at a fast pace. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed the cold aluminum door handle and stepped into the foyer. 

Feeling relief from the cold by the initial gust of warmth, I could smell freshly brewed coffee being served nearby. I had no idea where to go. To avoid looking lost, I stopped by a bulletin board to act like I was interested in taking a flyer. Quickly realizing that I can only go left or upstairs to the right, I walked toward the left to find the room I was supposed to be in. With no one in sight, I started to feel concerned about showing up late to class and having to take the “walk of shame.” All I saw were offices on the first floor, so I figured I would take a chance looking upstairs. As I was walking up the staircase, I noticed that the scent transitioned from coffee to a musty sulfur, probably originating from a science class. The sound of my steps echoed through the stairwell as I reached the double doors to the 2nd floor. Fortunately, I found the room I was looking for in time: Room 232.

It was easy to find a seat since I was the third person to arrive in class. Everyone had a blank stare, as we were anticipating the start of class and debating if we should talk with one another. As more students started to arrive, I could hear them questioning each other to make sure they were in the correct room at the right time. I began to feel at ease when I realized I wasn’t alone in the disorientation.

One Comment

  • Renee

    I remember feeling similar to you when I started going to college again. I am a 35 year-old single mom, with several failed attempts at college, it was never the right time. I remember walking into Grant Hall too, thinking everyone seems to know one another. I was pleasantly surprised with all my peers and teachers, returning to college has not been as intimating as I made it my mind. I have also peered at the bulletin boards when I don’t know what to do, just to look busy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *