Hannah King's Experience

“I do think it was positive, and good to be challenged in the way that we were. When someone challenges you, sometimes it feels like people are judging you, but this experience didn’t feel like that. It felt like it is up to you to do something about your life.”

Adventure WV AmeriCorps VISTA Birdie Hawkins sat down with Hannah King to discuss her 2018 First-Year Trip experience. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Hannah King

What do you feel was the most important part of your First-Year Trip experience?

“Being able to expose myself to a different environment and not having to be the Hannah that everyone knows me as. Because when you come to college, it’s a whole different world and you don’t have to be the same person you were in high school, you don’t have to act the same way, you don’t necessarily need to change, but in high school I feel like there is pressure to be the same, while when you get here [college], I didn’t have to be and people still liked me.”

On being prepared for college…

“I felt more prepared because I knew what to expect a little better. Our leaders talked about campus resources and helped us better understand what it is like to be a student on campus. I’d say before my First-Year Trip, the level of preparedness I felt was a 4. After the trip, when I got to campus, I felt I was at an 8, because my experience on my First-Year Trip woke me up to the fact that now I’m an adult. Our leaders treated us like adults, and it made me more comfortable to accept that.”

On trying new, adventurous activities…

“I liked all the activities that we did. There was a different vibe for every activity, our leaders encouraged us to get out of our comfort zones, assured us that nobody looked stupid if we try it out and give it a go. I liked getting out and about, because it almost felt like you were cut off from the world without a cellphone, so staying active and going to new places was exciting.”

On the challenges presented on the First-Year Trip…

“I do think it was positive, and good to be challenged in the way that we were. When someone challenges you, sometimes it feels like people are judging you, but this experience didn’t feel like that. It felt like it is up to you to do something about your life. No one can judge you for just being you or trying something out. Maybe you’re not good at it, but just try it, it won’t hurt!”

“In high school you felt like you had to go with the people who were similar to you or acted just like you, while in college, someone can be way, way different than you and you can still click and be friends. That’s where I discovered that at, on my First-Year Trip.”

Describing the community on her First-Year Trip…

“We had nothing in common with one another, but somehow, we all clicked. By day two or three, we all got very close and we ended up becoming like a little family, which I thought was really cool because at first we struggled to find things in common with one another, but by the end of it we were all close because of our shared experiences. In high school you felt like you had to go with the people who were similar to you or acted just like you, while in college, someone can be way, way different than you and you can still click and be friends. That’s where I discovered that at, on my First-Year Trip.”

On the impact of evening discussions…

“There was a discussion about diversity and inclusion that allowed each of us to tell more about who we are and our backgrounds, that was very memorable. It allowed for people to open up and see that you’re not so different as you think you are from somebody, which I thought was really deep, because we don’t really deal with that in the world, so I thought it was really good to bring it up. Because while you’re in college, and you’re stressed out about school and you feel like nobody really understands that, but in that moment you felt like, somebody gets you, and you’re not alone, which I thought was a highlight of the trip.”

On the rewards of attending a Adventure WV First-Year Trip…

“I feel like it was getting to know people. I learned a lot of things, like people in New Jersey don’t pump their own gas. I thought it was cool to get to know everyone’s backgrounds and differences if they were from another state because I’m from West Virginia.”

What she’d like to communicate to incoming students considering going on a First-Year Trip…

“Try it out! Just do it! There is no point in being scared, you’re coming to WVU already, so why not come now, get to know new people, see somethings you haven’t in your little small town, and try it out!”