Anna O’Keefe ’18
I was an Early Decision applicant to Hamilton College. I toured Hamilton when the Hamilton community was in the midst of their freshman orientation program. I was instantly overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the campus community and connected to the friendly and open atmosphere. I knew Hamilton was where I was meant to be. For me, the offer of January admission was an outcome I had never considered and was truly unprepared for. I was confused and disheartened at the thought of delaying my Hamilton experience until the second semester of my freshman year. I was also concerned about the academic and social impact of a January start on campus. But I knew that what I really wanted was to attend Hamilton, so within a couple of days of receiving the admission offer, I committed to being a Jan.
Once the decision was made, I embraced this new “Jan” path and never looked back. I chose to participate in Arcadia’s London Jan program and was excited for the opportunity to meet other Hamilton freshmen. My experience in London exceeded my expectations.
The London Jans were an incredibly interesting and motivated group of Hamilton students. Similar to what I witnessed on campus, the Hamilton Jans created an enthusiastic, friendly and open community in our London home. We were excited to explore London and did so together. We learned about each other as we learned to navigate the Tube. I treasure memories of wandering around London lost and without purpose. We discovered great hidden restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores. We participated in an outdoor adventure trip to Wales, went to English soccer games with our Sociology professor and toured art museums and galleries with our Art History professor. We worked together to plan trips throughout Europe and I have great memories of touring France, Amsterdam and Italy. As December approached, I was sad to see the Jan semester coming to an end.
The Jan experience gave me a chance to grow, learn how to be independent and take a unique situation and make the best of it. My concerns about delaying a Hamilton experience were unfounded. The Hamilton experience is about more than a place, it is about people; people who are highly motivated to embrace the moment at hand and who are engaged in the opportunity to learn from it. These are the kind of people I met and learned from as a Jan. I am confident that the Jan experience in London will always be one of my most memorable and worthwhile social and intellectual experiences as a Hamilton student.
Upon returning to campus, I immediately felt like I had returned home. I was excited to reconnect with friends I made on my orientation trip and was eager to find my way. The entire campus community offered such a warm and welcoming atmosphere, easing our transition. Everyone was interested and eager to learn about our time in London. I was able to audition for my a cappella group and to apply to be an AA Leader. I also chose to get involved in Greek life and take voice lessons.
I found that all doors were open. I was prepared academically and had new confidence from having already accomplished so much. It is hard to believe that I was ever nervous about coming to Hamilton as a Jan, but I know I was. Perhaps most importantly, the cohesive and friendly student body immediately recognized us as one of their own. I will always remember my time as a Jan fondly. It is where I met some of my best friends and had incredible experiences that I will never forget.