Maddy Mahla (third from the right), '14, went to the pumpkin patch with other members of Intervarsity, a Christian fellowship at Elon University in North Carolina.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Maddy Mahla embraces Southern living at Elon University

Maddy Mahla, ‘14, is a freshman at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina.  She hasn’t officially declared a major, but she is thinking of majoring in biochemistry with a minor in neuroscience.

Q: What’s it like being in the South?

A: It’s really interesting. It’s definitely not the same as California. People stop for you at crosswalks. They say “sweetie” when you buy groceries. They call you “honey.” It just makes you feel so loved.

They close everything on Sunday. I didn’t really know that was a thing.  It was like one of the first weekends I was here, and Target was closed on Sunday.  I was like, “What do you mean Target is closed?”

It’s really preppy here. I didn’t know what Lilly Pulitzer (a colorful floral clothing line) was until I came to Elon. I didn’t know Vineyard Vines (a preppy clothing line) is a thing. I’m not really preppy like that, but it’s growing on me.

Q: What’s your campus like?

A: It’s so pretty here. All the leaves are changing. I think they change more vibrantly here.

And you know what?  (The prettiness) makes a difference. Because some days I’ll be missing my family or missing my friends or missing Country Day, and I’ll look outside my window, and it’s really nice. Just walking around, you really can’t be sad. You have to just lift yourself up and be like, “Oh my gosh, I go to this beautiful school.”

Basically everything at Elon is easy to get to. It’s kind of a small campus.

Q: How’s the town of Elon?  

A: The town of Elon is probably one block long. We call it “the Elon bubble”  because there’s just really not a lot to do. We have a Brick’s Pizza and a Talbot’s (clothing store).

Q: What classes are you taking?  

A: General Chemistry, Intro to Chinese, English 110 and Psychology 111. I have a chemistry lab that goes along with my general chemistry.

My favorite right now is Chemistry just because my teacher is really Country Day-like. She’s like the perfect mix of nerdy but cool but smart and funny. She’s just awesome.

For Halloween, she was a covalent bond. She walked into the classroom. She turned off the lights.  She (was) wearing a tuxedo and playing the James Bond music. And then she flipped on the lights, and she goes, “The name’s Bond, Covalent Bond.” And I started tearing up a little bit because I was like, “Oh my gosh, the Country Day is showing.”

Q: What is your favorite thing about Elon?

A: I really like my class sizes. My largest class size is 28 people. You know, going to Country Day and being in such a small  environment, I was really nervous that it was going to be 100, 200 people in a lecture hall. I don’t even go to lecture-type classes yet.

Q: What are you involved in outside of academics?

A: I’m part of intramural volleyball. We just make a team with some friends and we play each other.

I’m also a part of this thing called Intervarsity, which is a Christian fellowship. That’s really cool because we have these worship nights, and you go and you sing a bunch of songs.

I’m also in the LEAD Program. It’s like a leadership fellowship.

I’m also in the Lincoln Pre-health Society. It’s for people who want to be pre-med or are going toward (the) medical track. They have guest speakers, who are doctors, and internship opportunities.

Q: Are you considering Greek life?  

A: I actually just signed up for registration today because we rush in the spring. At first I wasn’t so sure.  I was like, “I don’t know if I’m about that life.”

I’ve met a lot of people, and I really like them, and they’re in sororities. They tell me there are definitely a couple on campus that, if you want to be the stereotype, go ahead and join those.

But there a lot of ones that aren’t. Some just do it for the sake of service and getting together as a group of girls to do fun activities.

Q: How is your roommate?

A: She is really cool. She’s from Williamsburg, Virginia. At first I didn’t know if we were going to get along. It’s gotten a lot better. We’re definitely not best friends, but we live well together, and I really like her.

Q: How was it moving in?

A: My dad helped me. He said it was the easiest thing he ever did. And so we pull up.  And then we wait for I think a fraction of a second before all of these upperclassman guys come and they’re like, “Oh do you need this?  Do you need this?” And they put us in a cart.

They take all the stuff out of my car within two minutes. Then they drive us to my dorm.

Then the upperclassmen – which I was totally cool with because they’re all attractive upperclassmen – they all bring my stuff into my room. They’re like, “is that all you need?” And then they gave me a lollipop.  I was like okay, that was easy. I think moving in took about five to 10 minutes. It was amazing.

Q: What’s your favorite place on campus?

A: (A) little garden. It’s this kind of spiritual area. It’s just a really peaceful place. I go there all the time to read.

Q: Does Elon have any cool traditions?

A: They have this thing called College Coffee. On Tuesday mornings at 9:40, in the quad over by the Phi Beta Kappa pavilion, they have coffee, doughnuts and all this food. They play music. It’s just a nice way to get the community together.

Q: How’s the dining situation?

A: It’s really good, actually. We have this thing called Green World, where it’s all vegetarian and all vegan. We have this thing in one of the dining halls called McEwen Thursday, and they have fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread and fondue. So basically your very typical Southern meal. I never miss it.

Q: What’s something unique about Elon?

A: We have our own librarians. I have used mine so many times. There are like 30-40 librarians at Elon, and each person has their own. You can make an appointment with your librarian and go and talk to them and get to know them through the four years. They’ll help you search for books or cite your sources. It’s really awesome.

Q: What advice do you have for the class of 2015?

A: I know what I want to say, but it’s so cliché but it’s so true. You just have to pick a school that feels right.  The way that I knew that Elon was right for me was when I was going to other schools, I felt like I was cheating on Elon. There was just something off that my gut knew that my head just didn’t. I would definitely say try and visit if you can.

Oh yeah, and take into account aesthetics. It really does make a difference if you wake up and it’s dreary and gross.

Don’t feel nervous if you don’t like (college) right away or if you don’t make your friends right away. It’s taken me until now to really find a group of friends.

When I first came here, I didn’t really like it that much. I just realized that you just need to get used to being away from home and away from Country Day and away from what you know. Sometimes it takes a little while to get used to.

The first three weeks, I was miserable. And then I just woke up one day, and I was like, “Um, I don’t really want to go home yet. I love it here.”

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