My Home Away from Home

By: 
Gabby Wilson
Class of: 
2015

Since the very first day I stepped foot on the St. Lawrence campus, the question I have heard the most has been, “What are you doing all the way up here?” The fact that I am from New Orleans has spurred numerous conversations with other students and members of the SLU community who have visited New Orleans or know someone who knows someone, which often entails playing the name game. What usually comes from the conversation is my story about what made me choose St. Lawrence in the first place. Well I’ll tell you one thing—I didn’t come here for the North Country winters or the below freezing temperatures. What I can tell you is how I did end up here and how all of the opportunities SLU has to offer have made every North Country winter more than worth it.   

When I first began discussing college visits with my parents, my dad proposed the idea of St. Lawrence with some bias—St. Lawrence happens to be his alma mater.  I was considering other schools in the Northeast, but he had a lot to say about SLU, with good reason. In addition to hearing my dad’s hilarious stories about his experiences as a member of Sigma Chi and a member of the lacrosse team, I was being told that I should give St. Lawrence a chance. Not knowing much about the school or all that it had to offer, I listened to my dad’s guarantee that witnessing the beautiful North Country fall, something that I had never experienced, would be worthwhile. After doing my own research about the school, I set up a personal meeting with a SLU alum in the area who was thrilled to share with me all that St. Lawrence has to offer, including the amazing SLU alumni network. By the end of the meeting, I was sold on the idea of visiting campus, and I planned for my upcoming Admissions visit in the fall of 2010.

On the day I arrived for my visit to St. Lawrence, it was a crisp day in the middle of October and the trees were bursting with color. The drive from the airport could not have done a better job of showing me what fall really looks like in upstate New York. Each tree was full of red, orange, and golden leaves and continued for miles on either side of us. When we finally reached the first block of Main Street, we decided to go for a quick drive through campus. Only a few feet after passing the concrete St. Lawrence sign at the entrance across from the gas station, my dad and I noticed a herd of deer staring at us.  I had never seen a deer that close to me before, and I immediately asked my dad stop so we could look at them. I slowly got out the car, and he was able to snap a quick picture before they darted back into the woods.

My time at St. Lawrence has been filled with similar experiences to my encounter with the deer, in which I have discovered something completely new or had the opportunity to do something I have never done before.  I have been able to eat a true Adirondack-themed dinner in a real Adirondack chair. SLU has allowed me to attend my first Division I hockey game where I was able to sit in the same beautifully furnished arena my dad sat in as a student. My freshman year was my first real winter, and my friends and I made a point to embrace the first snowfall by building a snowman outside of our dorm. In addition to on-campus opportunities, St. Lawrence has also provided me the opportunity to expand my comfort zone even further by studying abroad in Copenhagen this past semester. After an amazing experience abroad, I looked forward to my return to campus for my third Titus weekend in February. Even as a junior, I was able to pick up a completely new activity by joining the broomball team for the first time. I have to say, I didn’t have as much experience on the ice as some of my other teammates did when I first started, but by the end of the season, I was able to play an entire game without slipping on the ice.

People may wonder whether I get homesick or miss all of the amazing food in the South. Of course I get homesick from time to time and miss the red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo, and king cake during Mardi Gras, but that’s what parents are for. I get my fix of food in the packages my parents send me, and I will always have New Orleans to go back to. SLU is my home away from home and has allowed me to explore so many opportunities and meet so many different people in my time here, and I will actually cherish my last North Country winter as a rising senior this fall.