Student Voice


January 28, 2023

Mostly Cloudy


Freshman perspective: Bennett Ryynanen

December 6, 2017

Before college, I was homeschooled all the way through tenth grade. My junior and senior years of high school were spent at a community college in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. UWRF was not my first exposure to the college classroom, but that doesn’t mean I was an expert on the college experience. My first semester here is nearly complete, and I’ve enjoyed my time thus far. Pre-finals judgments may be a bit premature, but I suppose they’re all I have to work with right now.

Looking back to September, I was nervous moving in. I had spent time away from home, but never felt quite so much independence. I didn’t know what to do with it. The University’s Week Of Welcome helped immensely. Creating a sense of community was the priority, and I found a strong circle of friends almost immediately. Suddenly it didn’t feel like Bennett versus the World.

My first lesson came long before classes started; sometimes all it takes is a group of people with a shared interest in “Stranger Things” to make a new place feel more like home. Additionally, my orientation transition leader ended up recruiting me into the Theta Chi fraternity. I never expected to take interest in Greek life, but I wasn’t about to turn down more community, especially when it’s full of people who are in the same boat as me. College truly is full of surprises.

The lesson of time management followed shortly afterwards. Unlike the sense of community, this lesson is ongoing. In the months and weeks leading up to the start of the semester, or “doomsday,” as I called it, people warned me about the stress. I heard that living at college is one of life’s first true challenges. They didn’t warn me about the fun. Late night ping pong tournaments and “Game of Thrones” binge sessions bombarded me while my D2L drop boxes’ deadlines crept steadily closer. I learned that Sunday night cramming seldom results in my best work. I wish I could say that my Sundays have become less busy, but I know that the first step in improving is admitting that there’s a problem. Check in with me next year to find out if I’ve resolved it.

My biggest worry was understandably the classes themselves. This was my ticket to a career someday. Would I be good at it? Would I like the work? I just knew that I wanted to write, and studying Journalism and Marketing Communications would lead to plenty of it. One semester mostly behind me may be too soon to decide, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. The professors aren’t even that scary. They’ve kept me busy, but I suppose that’s what I’m here for. There may be stress, and those deadlines continue to creep up on me, but the friends are still there too. Maybe college isn’t all about making it on your own, but finding new friends to provide support.

Bennett Ryynanen is a student at UW-River Falls.