Coming back from summer leave, I was nervous that all of the old feelings of homesickness and longing would come rushing back over me as I stepped back onto Academy grounds. However, as I began to walk through Chase Hall without having to brace up, a smile came upon my face as I recollected all of the memories of 4/c year, and all of the challenges that I had managed to make it through. I wasn’t smiling because these challenges were fun, but because they were over! Knowing that the hardest year was done and that I was that much closer to graduating was a comforting and amazing feeling! And although Chase Hall will never be “home” for me, at the very least it becomes easier coming back to the Academy after the first year. As you become more involved in sports, activities, clubs, and academics, you create broader and deeper friendships, friendships that can and will get you through the tough times you face at the Academy.
For me, the two biggest things that get me through the Academy are the rowing team and Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Rowing itself is a sport completely different than any other. It is not a game, but rather a fierce activity that requires intense mental and physical exertion. Due to the uniqueness of the sport, those that row create a special bond with each other, a certain level of respect that cannot be replaced by any other friendship. It is that relationship with everyone on the team that makes me feel like I belong here at the Academy. The practices, regattas, barbecues, cookouts, and competitions I attend with the crew team are some of the best memories I have at the Academy, and are memories that I will treasure for my entire lifetime.
Just as fun, meaningful, and rewarding is the time I spend at Officers’ Christian Fellowship on Friday nights. Nothing kicks off the weekend better than an evening of fellowship with fellow cadets as we worship God together as fellow believers in Christ. My faith is the most important aspect of my life, and having this opportunity each week to develop and grow in my faith is essential to my life. And it doesn’t end on Friday nights. My friends from OCF and I continue to meet throughout the week to gather and spend time together discussing the Bible and praying for each other, and it is these wonderful times together that help me get through the tough weeks!
Thinking about and reflecting on the wonderful clubs and sports that I am blessed to be a part of, I find it is because of those sports and clubs that it is easier to come back to the Academy. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, it’s not easy. And yes, it is easier at hundreds of other colleges. But there are ways to get involved and be connected during your time here, and it is in those places that you will feel like you belong. After spending a year here, and finding my niche at the Academy, and developing great friendships, I can truthfully say that this place is a little easier to come back to. It’s amazing, but I suppose it’s true, that one year truly can make all the difference.
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