We made it to 2021! I wanted to write an update to everyone and let you all know how my first semester at Princeton Theological Seminary went. This semester was a challenge for sure. I had to adjust to being a student again after an eight-year break as a scholar. I was also trying to adjust to living in a new city and apartment. Third floor living is nice, except when you need to take the trash out or take in groceries from your car. However, my biggest adjustment by far was isolation.
Isolation can be beneficial at times. We often choose to isolate ourselves with God in times of prayer. After all, Jesus demonstrated for us through his wandering in the wilderness and his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane how when he was truly listening for God’s direction, he was alone. However, as many people across the country have experienced this year with the pandemic, too much isolation can lead to overwhelming feelings of depression. In my case, this was what I experienced. Being in a new apartment in a new city, yet not being able to interact or socialize with anyone except on a screen, was very difficult for me. I’m a people person. If I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be pursuing Chaplaincy in the first place. So, to go days on end without physically seeing another person became very difficult for me. It was because of this that I decided to move back home in October. I knew I needed to be around people again for me to be able to fully concentrate on my studies.
Academically, I enjoyed most of my courses. “Introduction to Old Testament” and “Pastor as a Person” were my favorite classes for the semester. Greek has been a struggle, but I am happy to report that I made it through all of my classes for the semester. Again, the hardest part has been not really being able to build connections with fellow seminarians outside of a computer screen. There are no in-person lunch meetings, study groups, or even chapel services for us to bond with. When you are going through such a unique experience as seminary, having people around who have been through the same experiences as you, are invaluable. Most of us feel cheated from our seminary experience, as the only opportunity we have to share and grow with each other is through a screen.
As I move into my second semester, I am so thankful at how God has seen me through that dark valley. I am feeling more prepared for the academic expectations and feeling much more confident this time around as I know now that I did it before and can do it again, with God’s help. I am grateful to have learned more about myself as a person and how I can better balance my studies and self-care time. I am most looking forward to my “Resilience, Religion, and Vulnerability” class this semester. I am also excited to begin an internship in care ministry with Woodstown Presbyterian Church. I thank you all for your continued prayers and support through this entire seminary process.