Student Blog: Conquering the First Month of College

The life and times of a freshman Theatre Performance major at Wagner College in NYC.

By: Oct. 10, 2023
Student Blog: Conquering the First Month of College
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Setting the “Scene”

POV: You wake up to the sound of an irritating alarm ringing through your phone at around 7:20 A.M. You groggily creep out of bed but not too loudly so you don’t wake up your roommate (shoutout to Bella Jarecki, she plays the role of roommate). You walk across the hall to brush your teeth and see at least three of your friends doing the same thing within the first minute of waking up. You come back to your room to slowly get ready, put on some leggings and an athletic top or go formal and wear a leotard and tights. Sometimes you need to do some quick stretches to wake up the body but suddenly you’re off, with a protein bar and water bottle in hand, to class. As you’re walking up the hill outside of your dorm building, you’re texting your mom “Good morning!” and taking in the, hopefully, sunny sky. You might even greet some turkeys or squirrels on your agonizing climb up the steep incline towards the dance studio but, as you look over your shoulder, a clear view of the Verrazano Bridge awaits you. After a few seconds or minutes, depending on your pace, you cross the crosswalk at the top of the hill and get a glimpse of water view mansions in the hills across the way and a hint of the beautiful Manhattan skyline. Within a few minutes, you’ve passed Main Hall, the iconic building at the center of the campus some may recognize from the movie School of Rock, and almost instantly you’re waiting in the hallway outside of your classroom for 8 A.M. Jazz to start. 

For the past 6 weeks, this is how I've started each one.

Introduction 

Hi reader! My name is Jules Donohue. I’m a freshman Theatre Performance major at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY. As a proud New York state native, I’ve been going to see Broadway shows my entire life and I’m currently living my NYC dreams at Wagner. Wagner College is a small liberal arts institution located just minutes away from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn, and a ferry ride away from Manhattan. 

Student Blog: Conquering the First Month of College
Main Hall at Wagner College
(photographed by me)

Wagner has an incredible Performing Arts department that offers majors such as Arts Administration, Dance Education, and (of course) Theatre & Speech. As I already mentioned, I’m currently pursuing a BA degree in Theatre Performance with the hopes of minoring in Dance and possibly double majoring in another discipline but don’t quote me on that just yet! My first semester has been quite a whirlwind so far as I’m adjusting to balancing the rigors of multiple theatre-related classes in addition to my learning community classes. 

Academic Classes 

What is a learning community you may ask? At Wagner, freshmen are grouped into classes that are taught by two professors of different disciplines. My learning community is called Creating a Human Material World: Objects, History, and Memory or, the easy version, LC4. Through this learning community, I was assigned two academic classes in my schedule, Intro to Art History: The Ancient World from a Global Perspective and Bringing the Past to the Public: History in Museums. Learning in these LCs is not typical. I mean, of course, you have your class every other day in a regular classroom. You sit in desks or chairs and listen to the teacher give a lesson or engage in a class discussion. However, more often than not this routine is altered by off-campus learning experiences. For example, since moving to Wagner, I’ve been to three wildly different museums throughout NYC. First, we went on a class field trip to the African Burial Ground National Monument: Visitor Center between Duane Street and Reade Street in Manhattan. Then, we were assigned an individual trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue which I took with my family. Most recently, we went on a class field trip to the Museum of the City of New York located in East Harlem. This weekend I have another individual trip coming up, an NYC walking tour! Learning this way has been completely enlightening and, with such easy access to Manhattan through a quick and scenic commute on the Staten Island Ferry (which is FREE by the way), it’s exactly what drew me to Wagner. So far, I’ve definitely not been disappointed with my choice of school for this reason, along with many other reasons! 

Student Blog: Conquering the First Month of College
Me and friends in my LC on the SI Ferry

Arts Classes 

Now, for some theatre vibes… the part you all came for I’m assuming! My first semester classes are as follows: I have two dance classes in my schedule, Jazz and Ballet, in addition to Acting Techniques 1, Treble Choir, and private voice lessons. Each class meets every other day (alternating between Mon./Wed. or Tues./Thurs.) except for choir and voice lessons which both occur once a week. My lessons are 45 minutes long, my dance and choir classes are 90 minutes, and my acting class is 2 hours in length. I can honestly say that my experience in these classes has been entirely positive so far! Everyday I am grateful that I get to do what I love in school. I think the biggest challenge has been the physical demands of it all. About 6 months before I moved into school, I endured a knee injury. I went from dancing and moving numerous times every week to not attending a single dance class since the injury until I came to Wagner. Adjusting to my current situation with such a busy schedule has not been easy on my body but I’ve been learning better technique in my classes and the importance of SLEEP so, overall, I’m coping. I still haven’t mastered a perfect sleep schedule (and probably never will considering I’m literally nocturnal) but I’m doing better than before which is super rewarding. I love to dance so I’m thankful that I’m learning to take care of my body and even joined the Wagner College Dance Team a few weeks ago. Another experience I’ve added to my schedule quite recently is being part of the cast of a student-run musical happening at Wagner called Big Fish. I haven’t been in a show in a few months either so to be reminded daily of what we all do this major for and bond with my castmates has truly been a highlight of my first month here. You already know that I’m about to say this but If you’re in the NYC area, come see Big Fish on Oct. 27th-29th at Wagner! Follow @wagnersrmt on Instagram for more details tehe! :) It’s going to be an amazing show, I promise. Although I have had such an overwhelming schedule recently, I’ve honestly never been happier and this is just the beginning! My classes were all assigned to me this semester so I’m extremely excited to have more freedom selecting my arts electives in the near future and hope to add even more onto my plate. 

Student Blog: Conquering the First Month of College
Me performing in my senior musical!

Therapy Sesh

Since this is my first blog post, I thought I’d start a segment I can come back to in future posts. I’m calling this one “Therapy Sesh” because that’s what me and my friends at school call it when we need a second to talk about our feelings. Sometimes we even do “Girl Therapy Sesh” while we eat our “Girl Dinner” at the dining hall (I literally promise this next part is not cringe even though I’m building it up to be). Usually we sit outside in nature and just go around in a circle to talk about what’s been going on lately, our insecurities, highs and lows, etc. If I had to give advice about dealing with the first month of college to readers (which I’m going to do right now if you haven’t figured it out yet), I’d say that it is a rollercoaster of emotions. It may be cliche but, in my experience, it’s true… ESPECIALLY in a theatre program! I’ve gone from being on top of the world to the lowest of low within a matter of minutes. My lowest feelings have ranged from anxieties about making friends or making a good impression on my teachers to being overwhelmed by my schedule or feeling depressed about being away from home. My highest feelings have been felt while hanging out with my friends, getting good feedback in class, exploring NYC, and having fun in rehearsal. One day I’ll think I’ve made a breakthrough in my voice lesson when the next day I’ll be practicing in a practice room thinking I’ll never get it. I might be feeling these ups and downs more dramatically than others would or do but if you’ve ever felt an INKLING of these feelings, I hope you know that you’re not alone. Everyone is in the same boat, especially freshmen, TRULYYYY. I haven’t conquered these ups and downs yet but, in my experience, it’s important to acknowledge that the good and bad emotions are both valid. Whatever stage you’re at with these feelings, I’ve found that finding a support system in friends or your family is the best medicine. It may be hard to find the right people but if you keep trying, you will. Trust that things will work out!

NYC Bucket List

This is my second segment: the NYC Bucket List. Growing up in New York state, I’ve done a lot of things in NYC already but there’s also so much I haven’t done yet! My goal is to do the fun tourist stuff that people dream of doing when they think about NYC.  Here’s what’s on my list so far and, if you have a suggestion for my list (and enough willpower to actually write a message and send it to me because I know I would be too lazy to do that), email me at julesdonohue6@gmail.com

  1. See Some Like It Hot on Broadway before it closes
  2. See The Cottage on Broadway before it closes 
  3. Go to the Skyline Drive In NYC
  4. Wellness Wednesdays at the World Trade Center
  5. Still never been to Ellis Island, I have to get on that
  6. SO MANY holiday-oriented things that I’ll discuss at a later date ;)

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! Stay tuned for another post later this month.








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