By Richard Coca
Last year, during this time, the highlight of my New Student Orientation (NSO) was being almost kicked by a Dollie during Band Run. This year, I’m glad to report otherwise. As corny as it sounds, the highlight of my NSO was getting to meet the incoming class of 2023 (or twenty-tree, as the frosh like to insist). The only difference between this year’s NSO and mine was that instead of having almost been hit by a Dollie, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. (That, and the fact that I got to run as a part of the band this time.)
Nostalgia comes in many forms. It can be as significant as remembering the first time you left home, but it can also be as small as constantly being mistaken as a frosh because you’re wearing a red lanyard. As a community coordinator for this year’s NSO, I am no stranger to the feeling of nostalgia that undoubtedly comes packaged with the ever-so-dreaded sophomore slump.
Helping the frosh move into their dorms was not only exciting and re-energizing, but it reminded me about how nervous I was while moving in. It also reminded me of how exciting that day was. Stanford was still new to me; this year, seeing the frosh wide awake with bright eyes reminded me of how 360-something days ago I really couldn’t fathom actually going to Stanford for the first few days. I also remembered all the upperclassmen who told me to “give it a minute.” The so-called frosh innocence and energy would soon dissipate, they warned. And to an extent, they were right. A few weeks later, Math 51 suddenly in the mix, I felt the full weight of classes and extracurriculars start to age me.
Despite the loss of my fresh frosh optimism, throughout my time at Stanford, I fountain hopped in some fountains of youth and made a conscious effort to try to remain optimistic. Seeing the incoming frosh has renewed that spirit. Although I, as a sophomore, have to run around campus at 11 p.m. to plan for recruitment, I find incredible joy in seeing frosh climb the claw at that crazy hour. It also makes me happy when I see frosh complain about chemistry and Math 51; it makes me even happier when I’m able to advise them about their concerns.
With the introduction of a new class on campus, I was reminded, in a good way, that long after I’m gone, there will be a class of 2030. While some things will undoubtedly remain the same, my hope for the future is that it will get easier for the frosh year after year.
And to the frosh reading this, don’t be shy to reach out and talk to upperclassmen. I think you’ll find that most of us want to help you in any way we can.
Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.