I am a creature of habit. It’s no surprise that, as a freshman, I quickly found myself slipping into the repetitive motions of going to class and eating lunch with the same people day after day. Routines help keep me organized, but they also have a tendency to make me overlook some of the opportunities around me. Wanting to meet some new people and break out of my daily rut of activities, I sought an opportunity to put myself in a completely new environment.

It seemed like all of my friends were talking about ESCAPE. Seeing team leaders walking around in their polar fleece vests no matter the weather, wondering what the program was like – each of us wanted a green ESCAPE T-shirt of our own. Having convinced a few friends to come with me, I packed my bag, grabbed a pillow and boarded a yellow school bus after class on a Friday afternoon.

Like the other 25 freshmen on my ESCAPE overnight trip, I was not entirely sure what was in store. I knew it would be a nice break from campus, a chance to sleep in a bed a bit more comfortable than the one in my dorm room and to eat something other than my routine diet of Leo’s fare. If nothing else, at least a night away would be a much-needed break from studying for Introduction to Biology.

ESCAPE is unlike any other program on campus. It is a non-religious overnight retreat for freshmen, led by a team of sophomores, juniors and seniors. ESCAPE is a chance to be yourself, to feel completely comfortable in your own skin while surrounded by peers who are experiencing many of the same things you are. Students have the chance to slow down and ponder the opportunities available to them at Georgetown; they contemplate what has brought them to the Hilltop and the experiences that have made them the people they are.

ESCAPE was more fun than I could have imagined. Though I had thought I would not have enough in common with my fellow Escapees to initiate conversations with them, I ended up spending the weekend conversing at length with them on topics both meditative and mundane. We discussed the challenges and joys we shared as we transitioned to life as Georgetown freshmen: the delicate art of making new friends while maintaining old ones, finding ways to cope with rigorous course loads, the excitement of living in a new city and much more.

y experience on ESCAPE set the tone for an amazing first year at Georgetown. The people I met on the first retreat are now among my closest friends. This year I also have the privilege of serving as an ESCAPE team leader; the job has given me the chance to share my experiences with a group of new students and to develop a social confidence I never knew I had.

Georgetown is bursting with possibilities and opportunities. While juggling classes, clubs, jobs and a social life, it is easy to feel the routines of Hilltop life calling you to stay put. But you never know how worthwhile it can be to take a night off from all that.

You owe it to yourself to try. Do it for the T-shirt. Do it for the change of pace. Do it for the friends you’ll make. Do it for the chance to make s’mores around a fireplace. Honestly, there aren’t any good reasons not to go. There are four overnights left – sign up now. You won’t regret it.

Erin Pepin is a sophomore in the College and an ESCAPE team leader.

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