When I first started graduate school, I thought it would be a lot like undergrad, where you met a few people that you liked in classes, were maybe in a few groups together, but at the end of the day, we would all go home and hang out with our friends from either back home or from undergrad. Of course, I couldn’t be more wrong. This year has been quite the opposite, in fact. I know I’ve made friends for life in this program.
At the beginning of our first year, our class was required to participate in team-building exercises at one of the fitness facilities on campus led by a group from Summit Vision. They told us that in the spring, we would go to Summit Vision after having spent a year together to do more of these types of activities. I thought, at the time, that a year wouldn’t make too much difference in how we were towards each other. But, what a difference a year really does make.
When we first got to Summit Vision we were divided into teams, then each team did their own activities with one of the leaders from Summit Vision. Our first event was the zip-line, which put me right into anxiety mode. I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with the zip-line because we were told that we needed to stay in our “growth zone” and not put ourselves in our “panic zone.” As soon as the lady told us our first activity was the zip-line my mind went right to the boarder of “panic zone” and “growth zone.” However, we got suited up in our harnesses and thank goodness the guys volunteered to go first. It really helped to see them go first. Not to be left out or be a baby, I decided to at least climb up the thing and see how bad the height was before making any final decisions on whether or not to do the zip-line. Once I got up there, I watched 2 people go ahead. They didn’t die, so I thought it might be ok. Emily and I were the last to go, and probably the most scared, but we both were able to encourage each other to move forward. Sure enough, we both counted down from 3 and off we went, down the zip-line. It was actually pretty fun, quite honestly. I enjoyed it and I might even zip-line in the future.
It was after this activity that I really started to realize how much we all had changed over the past year. We really had developed friendships, that I didn’t even know existed. It sounds silly, but I always thought a friend was someone who went to the bars with you on Friday night and someone who was there for you when you needed to cry.I didn’t realize until Friday during these activities that friends don’t always have to come like that (meaning they don’t always have to be your best friends who you over-share everything with). Friends can be the people who just encourage you to scoot your behind off of a platform to go on the zip-line. Friends can be there to calm you down after you’ve been scared about doing the zip-line.Everyone in my group were all of those things and more.
Our next activity was the “Commitment Bridge” or as I called it, “Marriage/Dating Counseling 101.” This was one where you had to get on the ropes and balance each other as the two ropes got further and further apart. This, again, got me thinking about how I’d developed a friendship with everyone in my group. Emily and I had to lean on each other and trust that the other one could help with balance. You also had to trust that the people who were standing in front of you or behind you were going to catch you if you fell. Having, a few trust issues myself, this was one that was difficult for me, mentally. Yet, the important thing was that I had friends there to help me. A few people were there to grab me when I fell and Emily proved that she really could help me balance on the rope and vice versa.
This trip really helped me to fully understand how great the people in our first year class are and how I really have developed friendships with most people in our class. I may not be out at the bars with everyone in the class on a Friday night nor has everyone in the class seen me cry; however, I have learned to lean on my classmates for support, and I’ve learned to be support for classmates. We’ve learned about each others strengths and weaknesses through group projects and we’ve seen how everybody holds up after a 2-day long case competition. The activities at Summit Vision really helped to cement those friendships and helped those of us who hadn’t before this, realize that they actually had developed.
Over the past year, we’ve laughed, cried, had anxiety, stressed, studied, shared stories of significant others mis-behaving, shared stories about work, discussed job searches, and most importantly, gone to Varsity Club on most Thursdays together. I think I can say with confidence that I can call everyone in the 1st year MLHR class a friend. Classes come and go, but the relationships that have been built with our classmates will hopefully last a lifetime. Here’s to an awesome first year with everyone and hopefully, here’s to a speedy/challenging 2nd year. Cheers!
PS- Thanks for letting me use these pictures, Lisa
Photos courtesy of Lisa Carpinone