Lion Roars

February - March 2009

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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Anne Arundel 100

Life after St. Mary’s

The Post-College Blues

by Laurie Hofmann ’07

As I left work one day and rode the bus through downtown, I caught a glimpse of two guys slipping through the front door of their frat house. As the door closed behind them, I felt a pang of jealousy and the sense that I was being shut out of college life for good.

I could picture in my mind everything that might be hidden behind that door: pyramids of empty beer cans, piles of smelly socks and dirty underwear, an endless supply of Easy Mac and Ramen Noodles from BJ’s stored in the cabinets. Oh, what a wonderful life that was.

While it’s true what they say, that your college years are four of the best years of your life, those few years of bliss come with a price. It’s my opinion that the years following college can be some of the most difficult. You are thrown into the world after living in the comfort of group housing amongst close friends. Even if you don’t like the people you’re living with, you can always escape next door or across the lawn to the welcoming embrace of your best girlfriends who are making dinner together and watching “Sex and the City.”

The jealousy I felt as I saw the door to college life close in my face while riding by on the bus results from my longing to be back in that place surrounded by friends and fulfilled with the sensation that I am paving my way to success and having a blast in the process.

Laurie Hofmann '07

Now, I am still paving my way to success, or at least that was the plan. Really, graduate school was a way to delay my inevitable entrance into the job market. From the first day of my life, everything had been planned. There was never a question of where to go next. First came preschool, then elementary school, middle school, high school, and finally college. What then? Graduate school of course: the best way to avoid looking for a real job, all the while appearing to inquisitive family members to know exactly what you want in life.

Little did I know how painstaking it would be to work every day on a college campus as an outside observer, locked in my laboratory cell unable to engage in the activities advertised all over campus on colorful posters that looked like so much fun. Sure, I could show up to midnight breakfast or the fall festival if I wanted, but who wants to be surrounded by drunken under majorgraduates when you don’t know any of them and all they think of you is that you’re some nerd who doesn’t have any friends…which very well may be true.

Player No. 6, team captain

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are people out there who have had wonderful graduate school experiences – they chose a program that was a good fit. Unfortunately, the decisions I made during my last semester as a college student, in an effort to explore the world and try something new and exciting, resulted in my relocation to New Hampshire to study seaweed….What in the world was I thinking?

I know what I was thinking. I pictured hippies running around campus preaching free love and nature lovers recruiting new people to join them on hiking and kayaking adventures. I pictured snow, beautiful white carpets of snow. I didn’t realize that the world moves in slow motion for nine months out of the year due to the lack of sunlight and freezing temperatures that put everyone in a constant state of boredom and depression. And that during this time people are grouchy and don’t make any sort of an effort to be sociable.

Plus, the snow only remains white through the middle of the night before the plows come through and pile it on the side of the street, forming blackened mountains of packed ice that obstruct your normal walking routes. Now, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but my first winter in New Hampshire was brutally painful between the weekly snow storms and lack of friendship, not to mention the lack of guidance from my adviser who was too busy to really care about my self-designed project that wasn’t in his field of expertise.

Nonetheless, life in New Hampshire did look a little brighter after surviving my first winter, but even now I find myself looking out a bus window wishing, longing to be part of a community, to have a place in this world.

Never did I realize how precious my years at St. Mary’s would be, but if I can say one good thing about my experience in New Hampshire, it has made the memories of sunsets visible through the tall masts of the sailing dingies bobbing softly on the St. Mary’s River much brighter and much more meaningful. So for that I am thankful.

As I approach another winter in New Hampshire, I find that my heart has been softened – perhaps by the lovely New Hampshire summer.

Although my first year, and especially my first winter, was a difficult adjustment I have finally managed to find my niche here at the university. A new class of graduate students this fall brought new friends, and I now have a warm circle of fellow students to surround myself with for comfort through this cold season.

I have also developed a unique master’s project with the help of my adviser after finally breaking the ice, and I am proud of the outcome.

So, it seems I have finally adjusted and made the transition into life after college, but I will never forget how I got here and the people that helped me along the way.

2007 St. Mary’s graduate Laurie Hofmann is enrolled in the University of New Hampshire master’s plant biology program.