Despite it being nowhere near close to springtime, what with the leaves drying up and the essence of autumn seen in the morning dew, September is about newness and change. For many, child and adult alike, the ninth month of the year ushers in another school year.
Going back to school carries with it multiple meanings, depending on where you are in your life. For me, there are five things I have always loved – and still do – about going back to school.
1. Acquiring new knowledge
I don’t know about you, but I have always been hungry for new information. Even as a child, I ran for the bookshelves of stores when they had them, watched the Discovery channel instead of cartoons and researched whatever I could on 90s Internet.
The school was a way for me to wrangle my wild imagination and put it to use. The librarians learned my name faster than some of the teachers did. Whatever class I was in (minus mathematics, my weakness), I strived to learn and absorb the material completely.
New textbooks, new vocabulary words, new literature, new science and art projects, new movies, new lessons and advice from teachers. Gleaning an understanding of this world, to me, is a direct route to an open-minded, creative life.
2. Social interaction
Where I grew up, I did not have anything around me but an industrial park off a major highway, some preserved woodlands, and wild turkeys. Walking to a friend’s house was not an option. Not to mention I was the epitome of socially awkward.
So when it came time for another school year, I was pretty excited to see who would be in my classes. Aside from the friends I’d kept throughout my years of education, I wanted to meet the new students, speak with the faculty, and ask the teachers questions. It did not matter who the person was, as long as I could have an intelligent conversation with them that broadened my perspective of the world.
The other reason I looked forward to social interaction at school was for the value of observing others. I am a people-watcher. I like noting the idiosyncrasies in others, finding commonality in eccentricities. On the other side of the coin, learning how to deal with frenemies and rivals made me a stronger, more independent person in the long run. There’s no time like high school to stop being a doormat.
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3. Getting a break from family
School meant hours of freedom from the household and the issues every family seems to have. Some certainly have more problems than others. The school was and continues to be a sanctuary where I can focus on things beyond drama.
Completing assignments, talking with friends, playing sports, going on field trips, and doing extracurricular activities ate away at the hours. About the time I arrived at the back door to my home, I would be satisfactorily exhausted. The events throughout the day kept me preoccupied enough to forget about the troubles going on elsewhere in my life.
4. Discovering more about myself
Tying the first three together, the school was a portal to my inner human being. I could, for short periods, play different roles and learn how to code-switch. Yet, at the root of it all, I was discovering my strengths and weaknesses. The classes I took aided in the development of who I am today. Had my education been different, I might not be the same individual I am now.
Some of the courses I have taken, both compulsory and elected, have been life-altering. When you can connect to the subject matter on a level deeper than just letters printed on paper, you not only get smarter, you get wiser.
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5. School shopping
On a more materialistic note, I absolutely adored shopping for school clothing. Except for when my high school initiated a dress code during my junior year. Yet, getting to renew my wardrobe for a new school year felt like ushering in a new version of me.
I’d get a haircut, new threads, a fresh pair of sneakers—the works. Plus, when your mother patiently accepts your fashion ‘phases,’ buying clothes can be quite the experience for you both.
Furthermore, I am a stationary junkie. Part of the blame goes to growing up with Lisa Frank stickers and folders, but even to this day, I will buy school stationery when there is a sale. Especially if the fancy mechanical pencils or colored gel pens are on sale.
Some people might see the start of the school year as a dreadful time and would rather have an eternal summer vacation. But without school, we would fall short on growth in all aspects of life.
I have always loved going back to school for the chance to use my brain, gain intelligence, worldly experience, and make lasting relationships with others. For this perpetual student, a new school semester is a never-ending source of excitement.