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Jessica Santemma

Jessica on Campus

By Jessica Santemma

they say college is the best time of your life, and I’d believe it.  I am a freshman in the undergraduate program at The George Washington University and, could not be happier.  Everything from the strong programs offered to the intense political excitement; the incredible friends I’ve made to the less than ideal food situation combine to make the GWU experience an intellectual, hilarious, busy and fulfilling one.  My dorm, Thurston Hall, is so great and so intimidating.  It houses 1,100 freshmen on 9 floors – wow.  So many people are in the same place at once but if their doors are closed, they seem close yet far.  Many of my friends outside of school have between 30 to 90 kids in their dorms – we have over 100 on each floor.  It’s a factory, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being at college and depending on myself for everything from getting a healthy meal to making a doctor’s appointment (though I admit still calling my Mom to intervene on occasion), I have learned a lot.  I went to the same small school from age three to age eighteen, so faculty, students and parents knew each other pretty well. Now I attend a university with over 9,000 undergraduate students and what seems like limitless staff.  Professors here don’t know “trivial” personal information that my grade school teachers knew, like that in fifth grade my dog died, my overall grades or social reputation.  It’s the same way with the entire student body here at GW – everyone has a clean slate.  You can be exactly who you want to be, be involved in exactly what you want to be involved in.  It’s a very refreshing feeling that can be applied to any new experience, whether a new job, relationship, friendship or address and town. That experiences are precisely what you make of them.  These changes, and by extension life, is all about pursuing your dreams, trying new things and practicing at them. We can fail and succeed at life, and take advantage of our surroundings and opportunities.  That’s a beautiful thing.

Love, Divorce and the Blended Family

when I heard this month’s topic, I selfishly thought of myself.  I am my mother’s first child and my fathers fifth, and therefore the littlest.  As the baby, I was too young to understand the complexity of the situation.  Now, at age 19, I am just beginning to make sense of it.  It must have been really hard for my siblings to adjust; I mean they are in their late thirties and forties today, so they were in their late teens and twenties when they were told that not only was their father getting remarried, but also that they would have a new sibling.  All babies draw attention, but this wasn’t “niece” attention or “cousin” attention – this was “half sibling” attention, a baby that would call them “sister” and “brother” and share their father.  As the little one, I would explain to my friends that I too had brothers and sisters – but two half brothers and two half sisters, so technically, if you add them all up, one whole brother and one whole sister – at least that was the easiest way to explain it to the other kids on the playground.  But that’s completely false.  When we introduce our friends to each other now, we don’t say my “half” sibling, we just say each other’s names.  They’re all unique individuals with their own aspirations and relationships to each other, let alone to me.  They never made me feel left out and always included me in whatever they did…as long as it was before my bedtime.  I must have been seven when we took a whole family vacation to Puerto Rico, and they included me in their pool games by using me as the volleyball and tossing me back and forth.  Little things like this I will always remember and appreciate.  I said before I selfishly thought of myself for this topic because I never really took the time to appreciate how they accepted me as a sibling.  In my baby pictures, they are there, and the same goes for birthdays, recitals, and religious occasions.  During rough times, they have had my back, and as I grow up and learn more about people and relationships, I look forward to supporting them and their children in the same way that they have always cared for me as a sibling, wholly and completely.

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