“Oh, they do things differently here.” That is the immediate response to most questions when asked about experiences at New College. “Different” is what prefaces New College: a public honors college with less than 1,000 students simply isn’t the norm for college experiences.
That stark difference of New College to the 50,000 students, Greek Life and rampant alcohol use of Florida State University (FSU) has made my transfer to this school a culture shock, yet such a positive change in my life.
To preface the severity of this change, let’s take a look into the person who was entering their freshman year in 2020 at FSU. The backwards hat-wearing business major who wanted more than anything to be in a fraternity was a confused and conflicted person. The uncertainty of how much I could pursue my passions mixed with the overwhelming need to find a community at such a large school made life difficult and encouraged me to try and fit in where I didn’t belong. Simply disliking Trump made encounters awkward—I even stuck with the label of “moderate democrat” to make it past the fraternity interview process.
Now fast forward two uneventful years at community college later to the 2022 semester. The time to finish my bachelor’s degree had come and I now had a choice to make. I had heard about New College through a sibling who attends and a father who worked in the communications department, but I just wasn’t sure if it would be the environment I wanted for the rest of my time in college. A cisgendered gym bro just didn’t seem like the right fit.
How sorely mistaken my preconceptions were. From the beginning I was embraced and respected here. From my orientation I learned that I could meet a new person and speak freely, and I was not a moderate democrat, I was Marxist-Leninist. Joyously, I walk around campus to see all the different groups of friends I have made and speak with open-minded intellectuals here every day.
I’m not going to rule out the lead in the water making everyone here nicer, but I will partially accredit it to the mutual respect that is so important here. The genuine interest in what people say makes even the most mundane conversations here much more impactful.
To quote second-year William Lopez, “Nothing is cringe, everything is slay.” That philosophy echoes in my mind every day here if I ever think I’m out of place.