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cadet blogs

Coming Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Stephen Nolan Another leave period has passed, and once again I find myself thousands of feet above Middle America penning this latest entry. It’s always bittersweet heading back to the Academy, but today it seems as if the emphasis is more on the bitter than the sweet. My dad is returning from Iraq today, and I’m on a plane heading back to the Ensign factory. Bad timing on both of our parts has lead to our missing each other. In a further sense of irony, I’m flying into the Atlanta Airport for my connecting flight, the airport where my dad was a mere hour ago. Each time I look out the window, I fancy I see another airplane, his, passing by. At a certain point though, I have to accept that sometimes things don’t work out, and I should just be grateful that he’s safe.

I was spending one last night out on the town with my old high school friends last night, and on the way back, we were joking about how our sleep patterns were getting all thrown off by our vacation schedules. At home, I usually went to bed around 0400, and woke up around 1030 or so. It’s about the same amount of time I usually sleep at the Academy… just in a completely different time block. This brought us onto the subject of our normal sleeping patterns, and I made the comment that I usually don’t get to bed before midnight because I end up tutoring people who stop by my room for help. One of my friends looked at me and asked me “how much do you make for that?” I looked at her and asked her what she meant and she reiterated, “how much do they pay you to tutor them?”

I guess this points out the stark difference between the Academy and the rest of the college world; I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone have to pay for tutoring…it’s something that you just do for your shipmates. If you understand something, if you get it, you help someone else with it, because you know at some point down the line, somewhere, you’re going to need someone else’s help. The farther and farther I get from Swab Summer, the more I see the rationale for breaking down the original and depriving swabs of the first person… we really do have to be a cohesive unit to work at the Academy. There are few people, if any, who will turn you away from their door, even at eleven or twelve at night, if you need help. It’s just a totally different atmosphere that my friends portrayed of their colleges. And don’t even get me started on class sizes, when I told them my largest class was Chemistry, with 30 students… well, let’s just say that’s not how it is in most Gen. Ed classes.

I’m heading back to start MAP week. I’ll be quite honest, I’m not sure what it stands for, but I do know what it means for me, three days of meetings, book issues, trainings, the PFE and preparing to start school. We will be switching roommates and rooms this week too in the “free” time that we can find. All in all though, I can’t complain too much, I’d take MAP week over a regular school week any day.

According to the Internet that they have on this airplane, we’re over Mountain Home, Arkansas. I know we’re going to get ready to land soon, so I’m going to wrap this blog entry up in traditional style. I hope you all had a happy holiday season, and if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an email at

Semper P.
3/c Stephen Nolan

More about Stephen.