The first time I ever encountered Georgetown University, aside from viewing the entirely under-appreciated masterpiece College Road Trip starring Martin Lawrence and Raven Symoné, was when I was 12 years old and living in Atlanta, Georgia. My eldest sister came home from a school trip to D.C. and spent the next week raving about some school she had visited briefly with which she had absolutely fallen in love. She was a sophomore in high school and spent the next two years working toward her goal of attending Georgetown. I remember her telling me how she was going to apply to the business school and how confused I became when she started calling it the “MSB.” I remember watching her trudge in after a long day only to be confronted with an excruciatingly small envelope, the universal sign of failure in the world of college acceptances. I remember being startled when she screamed with excitement that she had been admitted.
In the years that followed, I got my first glimpses of campus and of life on the hilltop. My family moved up to Northern Virginia, only about a 30 minute drive from Georgetown, and visits to the area were frequent. Two years later, it came time for the second Hewitt sister to endure the college application process. My other sister began her journey with a wide breadth of schools and little direction. After a long and arduous decision-making process, she entered the kitchen on the morning of May 1 donning a Georgetown t-shirt. There were officially two Hoyas in my household.
In another two years time, it was my turn to choose a college. I had repeatedly been asked if I planned to follow in my sisters’ footsteps and attend Georgetown. Throughout the majority of my high school career, I responded with a decided no. It was not until I started seriously considering the idea of college that I realized Georgetown aligned perfectly with everything I wanted in a school.
This was when the fear set in. I had worked hard throughout the entirety of my high school career and felt good about my chances. However, nothing is certain when it comes to applying to a school with such a competitive applicant pool. For a short period of time I considered not applying at all in order to avoid being “the one who didn’t get in.” But I’d seen the types of experiences my sisters had gained here and I knew that this was the place I wanted to be.
So I put aside my fears and applied early. I remember being confronted by that small envelope when I came home one night, this time knowing not to anticipate failure just yet. I felt a massive weight lifted off my shoulders as I read my acceptance letter, and my sisters and I shared the excitement of officially having a third Hoya in the family. For the next few months I proudly wore the words “Georgetown Hoyas” across my chest and beamed every time I was asked what school I would be attending in the fall. While I was apprehensive and sad about leaving my friends and home behind, my eagerness to start college swelled throughout the second half of my senior year and the following summer.
I’m not going to pretend that my fears were alleviated entirely once I was admitted to Georgetown, because they were not. In any relationship between siblings, comparisons, from sources both internal and external, are inevitable. Even though my sisters and I are vastly different, people cannot help but draw parallels between us. By choosing to attend the same school as my older siblings, I have made the basis for comparison that much larger. While I am proud to be associated with people as brilliant as my sisters, those comparisons come with their own pressures and expectations.
Both of my sisters have excelled on this campus in their own ways. They have become leaders in their respective clubs, formed lasting relationships with peers and professors, and have indelibly sewn themselves into the tapestry of Georgetown. Taking part in this legacy can feel overwhelming. What assuages my anxieties is the support that my sisters have given me. I have two amazing sounding boards who tell me everything Georgetown has meant to them and give me advice on how to navigate this world.
I was extremely well-prepared coming into my freshman year here at Georgetown. Over the last six years I had gotten to know this school through my sisters. Before stepping foot onto campus for my first day of NSO I had a grasp on most of the acronyms that litter the vernacular of the student body and could make my way around campus with minimal confusion. I knew to never call Leo’s “O’Donovan Hall,” to join the Voice instead of The Hoya, and to quickly identify my favorite restaurants on M Street.
However, regardless of my prior knowledge, this truth still stood: no matter where you’re from, who you’re related to, or how often you visit campus, being a college freshman is difficult. There’s no way around it. Constantly introducing yourself to new people is exhausting. Getting used to communal bathrooms and having a roommate can take some adjusting. Looking around and never seeing a familiar face can feel extraordinarily lonely, and looking at the Instagram posts and Snapchat stories of old high school friends and fellow college freshmen can make you feel like you’re the only one experiencing discomfort in your new environment.
While these feelings may not necessarily be universal, they are not unique to me. College is one big refresh button and, while that concept does have many appealing qualities, it is also unknowably difficult until you’re actually living it. However, it is not all bad. Most of the things that made my home feel homey—relationships, routines, a sense of belonging—required patience, even if I did not necessarily know for what I was being patient. I have begun to form new bonds with my surroundings and life has started to feel less alien. The musty scent of my Harbin dorm now has a comforting familiarity. I have figured out what my favorite foods are in Leo’s. I look up at Healy on a sunny day, appreciate how beautiful it is, and recognize how grateful I am to be able witness something so stunning on a daily basis. I have started to make friends, join clubs, and enjoy my classes.
This is not to say that everything becomes magically easy after the first few weeks on campus, but things do get better as they become more familiar. As close as my sisters and I are, I am my own person before I am anything else. The connections and memories I make on my own will bond me closer to this campus than anything else ever could. Using both the tools passed down to me by my sisters and the ones I have begun to cultivate on my own, I’m slowly building my own home on the hilltop.
Image Credits: Kayla Hewitt