When I received my acceptance letter from GSSW to be in the Advanced Standing program, I could not have been more excited. I had grown up in a small town called Mars Hill, NC- just twenty minutes north of Asheville. I went to undergrad at Mars Hill College, five minutes from my house. I needed to go and experience new places and people. Denver, I thought, was the place to do it, and DU was my ticket. I was not disappointed.
After well over a month of meticulous research and spreadsheet making of affordable apartments in Denver, I still hadn’t found an apartment when I arrived in late June. It was difficult to find something within my price range that was available when I had planned to move, but I took a chance and moved out here anyway. It took three days of calling over 100 apartments and four viewings before we found a studio that would work. Still slightly out of my price range, but it was cozy and still affordable. It is within a fifteen minute walk from the light rail station, everything that I would need is on the same street, including a movie theater, thrift stores, dentists, grocery stores, and of course a healthy selection of coffee shops. There is a decent sized park just two minutes walking distance from my apartment and the complex was filled with bunnies and tree stumps carved into little animals. This place is just about perfect. Coming from a small town where the biggest city, is probably half the size of Denver, and where I was always in the company of nature and mountains, Denver was scary. I was no longer in the safety and comfort that my mountains from home provided. I was in a concrete city, full of people and cars, and a 30 minute drive before I could begin to feel like I was in the mountains. It wasn’t until I actually got to know Denver, that I began to feel a sense of comfort.
I moved here a week before classes started at GSSW, which gave me plenty of time to settle into my apartment and to explore Denver. I spent most of the week looking around down town Denver, standing a mile high at the Capital, people watching, and getting to know the DU campus. I used a nifty little tourist guide book, to help me create my bucket list of things to do and see in Denver. In one week I was able to check off most of them. Denver wasn’t home, but I soon realized, that is exactly what it needed to be- not home.
My experience at GSSW has been above and beyond my expectations. I have been blown away by the plethora of resources and opportunities that are available both within GSSW and in DU. I have been welcomed by everyone I have come into contact with, including my amazing cohort. I have made a lot of friends in the program, many of which I feel extremely close to. Between spur of the moment camping trips, celebrating birthdays, movie nights, all night homework sessions in the library, lunch at Illegal Pete’s, or chatting up during breaks between classes on the quad, there is always a spot to make some friends at GSSW.
Our first term at GSSW was a bit rough. Trying to cram ten weeks of material into five weeks, was daunting and a bit stressful, but the quality of the classes and professors (who truly understand and care about what we are experiencing), and the support of my cohort really helped inspire me to push through those three papers and final due in one week, the three day research paper for Seminar, and more readings than I have seen in my life. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have a hard time. I love change. Change is what motivates and excites me. Sometimes, however, it can take a while for me to readjust. It was hard to learn how to accomplish all of my responsibilities and balance that with self care,- this has never been my strength- but with the support of my cohort, and the wise words and compassion of many professors, I was able to come out with straight A’s for the first time in my college career. This gives me hope for the rest of the year and for my career. I do not feel prepared for the rest of the year, I didn’t feel prepared for this first term, but from being in GSSW I have learned to accept vulnerability with open arms and to trust that I am enough, and that GSSW has more than plenty of support to help me meet my goals.
If you are a new or incoming student to GSSW, and you have made it through to the end of this post, I hope that something in here has helped to assure you that you are in the right place. Besides what better place is there to be than among a building full of Social Workers?
If you are still having doubts or have questions feel free to reach out to me at Michael.L.Holcombe@du.edu. Talk to you soon!