In a strange but very explainable way, getting my appendix removed within a month of starting college was probably the event that made me feel most secure in my decision to attend Swarthmore. It wasn’t a cataclysmic, dramatic event that sent my loved ones rushing to the hospital with worry, because the appendicitis was still in its early stages. Rather, it was a mere interruption to my regular Tuesday schedule and only took me out of classes for a little less than a week.
But in true Swattie fashion, I could never be separated from my academics. After only a few weeks of meeting people, I had one of my friends accompany me to the hospital to get testing done to see if I actually had appendicitis. He stayed for the hours upon hours it took to do the tests and CAT scan and even stayed until I got out of surgery. In that time, we spent a lot of time talking about our academic interests. We were both enrolled in the same Intro to Gender & Sexuality Studies class, and while I was hooked up to the machine right before surgery, we were reminded of The Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway, since I looked like a robot. Naturally, we took a photo and sent it to our professor.
While my day at the hospital was a fun side-adventure, I returned to Swat with the daunting task of catching up on work looming over my head while I was recovering. Thankfully, my class dean did a great job of connecting with my professors who were incredibly understanding and willing to help me work through my recovery. My professors were not only very compassionate about my situation, but also made it a point to remind me of my pass-fail semester. Because every first year student in the fall semester has a pass-fail semester to get adjusted to college, that eased my worries about catching up, and encouraged me to continue building friendships. Instead of locking myself in the library every weekend, I allowed myself to spend time with friends even while I was catching up in all of my classes.
My recovery was made a bit more tolerable and slightly less daunting with my very recently-made friends. I emphasize that these friends were very new, because we had not been at school for very long. I still look back in amazement at how my friends, who had known me for so little time, were still so willing to help me out and just keep me company. I had people drop by my room to do their homework, make me chicken noodle soup, and just come to tell me about their days. At one point, I got so sick of being in my room I had a group of friends help get me to the library they were working in so I could watch Netflix in their company.
While surgery a month into my first year of college wasn’t something I had planned in advance, I was comforted by the support and kindness I found myself surrounded by that was demonstrative of the community I was hoping to find, and continue to find, at Swarthmore.