Columns, Opinion

Bearing Witness: The art of transferring

Dear transfer students:

Welcome to your new land of opportunity. Maybe you have very specific academic or social reasons for transferring to Boston University, or perhaps, life has pushed you to take a blind risk. Regardless of rhyme or reason, you are most likely feeling overwhelmed and maybe even like an intruder. With any new beginning, loneliness remains inevitable. You may compare your new present with your past and ruminate over the risk you took by transferring. The pressing questions that lie ahead of you are, “Who am I going to be in this new environment” and “How do I want to make an impact?” Transferring is a process that you must trust with great patience. Sometimes, at the beginning, it might be tough when your desires don’t match your reality. For many, this is not an easy process, but look at it as the road to character, which is valuable in itself. Life can be objectively difficult. Once we can come to accept this, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

In his book, “The Lonely Man of Faith,” Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explains that there are two opposing sides of human nature: Adam I and Adam II. Adam I wants to conquer the world and discover things. Adam II wants to serve the world and develop a sense of morality. Soloveitchik says that all humans live in a contradiction between these two Adams, and the hardest part is that we are confronted with embodying both natures and reconciling with this contradiction.

Adam I lives by the economic mantra that input equals output, effort leads to reward and one should pursue self-interest. This economic logic will get you far in life, and especially at BU. If you seek out every opportunity academically and career-wise, you can meet your goals and even surpass them. Adam II instead lives by a moral code in which failure leads to humility and learning and that in order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.

Not all of these mantras may speak to you spiritually, but each applies to the act of transferring. When you transfer, you must go outside yourself to meet new people. My advice to you would be to insert yourself in spaces where you think your so-called people may be. Personally, I started hanging out at the Hillel House every day. That is how I made friends. In order to do this, you must go confidently into the direction you choose. I also joined a club that I wasn’t particularly interested in, but thought I might find good people through. I was right and luckily found my best friends there. Trust your instincts and put yourself in places you want to be.

BU has attractive qualities that initially drew you to this school. Outline all of your goals and chase after them. After you conquer the initial act of awkwardness or loneliness, you will find yourself making steps toward who you want to be. Outline where you want BU to take you, but remember you must have patience.

Loneliness is an emotion that can actually push people to do better and seek opportunities. For those of you who know nobody going into BU, embrace it. Keep your values close to you and go share yourself and your story with whomever you meet, even it if gets tedious. In my experience, people at BU are open, supportive, friendly and curious to listen. If you are lonely right now, talk to people around you, even if you think they are weird or not your type. Treat human interactions as a learning experience and do not have such high expectations for finding the perfect friends right away. If you keep your expectations for the daily grind low and your expectations for yourself and morality high, you might be happier.

At BU, you can nurture both your Adam I and Adam II. You can certainly build your resume, but it is the journey within the act of transferring that will lead you to develop your moral character, which can be more important. Don’t forget to look back at where you came from along the way. You will be proud of the life that you built with the odds against you. With a challenge behind you, the good times will be that much sweeter.

2 Comments

  1. Such a great article. Really helpful for not only transfer students, but anyone going through a new time in their lives. Love this piece and the reminder that at BU, you are never alone.

  2. Always knew you were sweet and smart, but well-written, too – what a winning combination