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From Convent to College: To College



BIBLICAL POINT OF REFERENCE:

"With joy you will draw water from the fountains of salvation."

~Isaiah 12:3

To College

So, I left the convent, as Jesus told me.

Leaving had produced another culture shock. All of the sudden, I was back in a car, driving on the highway! I hadn’t seen a car in months!

I was wearing sweatpants and moccasins! My hair was down without the weight of a veil upon it. I had hours upon hours to spend with my family; to talk and catch up with them. I had my first taste of meat after six months, and an abundance of food to choose from. I could sit down on a soft couch and actually lean my back against it (the convent had all wooden chairs, with no back rests). I could click a mouse and get on the internet. I could sleep in, past 5:00 a.m. I could take as many showers as I wanted. I could pray whenever I wanted and do whatever I wanted.

And then…I had all of these choices to make. My future was no longer set in stone before me. I no longer knew what I was called to do, or where I should go. I was free to choose any path, but it saddened me that the one I had previously chosen had left me unfulfilled.

I quickly got a job at a greenhouse, and for the next year, I started and finished different jobs. I started researching colleges. I didn’t even know what to major in, though! I was very indecisive. At first, I applied and enrolled in classes at Oakland University. Then, I switched to Oakland Community College.

Eventually, I had the idea of joining my twin sister at her college: Central Michigan University. I was somewhat familiar with the campus due to visiting my sister. It was a couple hours from home as well, which meant I’d get some independence by living in a dorm, but still be able to come home on certain weekends. I had gone on a retreat at St. Mary’s University Parish, located on CMU’s campus. I liked the people I had met and the fact that there was a vibrant, Catholic community.

I still didn’t know what to major in, but I knew I could start off by simply taking some general education courses.

Now, it was a culture shock entering the convent. It was also a culture shock leaving the convent. I will also say that it was a bit of a culture shock entering college.

By the time I was a freshman in college, I was nineteen years old. I knew that college was going to be totally different from life in the convent. The focus would be on studying as opposed to prayer. Not everyone would believe in God, as all of the nuns believed in Him.

Let’s just say the morals were pretty different. I even find it a bit comical: a sheltered “nun” experiencing college life. Instead of long nun habits and veils for modesty’s sake, there were short skirts and low tank tops. Instead of the bare feet of nuns (yes, the nuns went around the convent barefoot), there were fashionable Hunter boots and high heels…and not just the girls…I saw some boys in high heels as well. Instead of the nuns walking in orderly procession to their meals, I walked to a football game and saw a drunk guy pull off his pants!

The nuns spoke politely and in quiet tones, whereas the college students tended to yell and laugh obnoxiously. The nuns said things like, “May God reward you,” or “I humbly beg your forgiveness”. The college students said...well, I won’t repeat what they said, but simply know that there was a lot more cussing and swearing than I was used to hearing.

Everyone did not stop to pray when the bell rang. I had to work my prayer around my class schedule as opposed to the other way around. I did not have to ask Mother Abbess to “be excused”. Instead, I could use the restroom without anyone’s permission. My breakfast at the convent always consisted of simple bread and tea. The breakfast options at college were endless. I could order a smoothie or an omelet! Not to mention, a wide variety of juices and a choice of hot cocoa, swiss mocha, french vanilla, coffee, or all choices combined as one hot drink.

Call me naïve, but I couldn’t tell that a room smelled like weed; rather, I had to be told because I’ve never smelled weed before. I also couldn’t tell you the meaning of some of my professors’ jokes, but I think I can bet they were somewhat sexually related. There was also that moment when I was ecstatic that there was Eucharistic Adoration in the church on campus. In my eagerness, I told two random girls that Jesus was in the church, the way one would tell someone that Justin Bieber had just arrived in Mount Pleasant.

There were also some very pleasant shocks. I found people who were very similar to myself. People who would get excited with me when a group of nuns came to visit. People who were not priests and nuns, but still had vibrant prayer lives. People who loved God and who were passionate about their faith.

I find myself often going to St. Mary’s Church on campus and telling Jesus, as I once told Him before, “I will stay here as long as You tell me. When You tell me to leave, I will. Maybe I’ll leave with a degree. Maybe I’ll leave with some credits and transfer to another university. Maybe I’ll drop out of college so I can become a different type of nun. Maybe I’ll get married and have beautiful kids. Whenever and with whatever education, I’ll do it. Just let me know.”

That is where I am now. I’m still a freshman at CMU and I haven’t declared a major. I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life, but I’ll just keep following God’s directions. Whether it be to and from the convent, to and from college, or to and from somewhere else.

Oh, and guess what? I’m happy here.

Your Laughing Sister,

Jacqueline Rae


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