So I read this article a couple of days ago. And I told myself, “Kayla, let it go. Just let it go.”
And like a good girl I did. But then I saw ANOTHER post. And so…I had to talk.
BYU schools have honor codes. The honor code list is actually pretty short, and every student has to sign it before applying to be a student at any of the three schools. But I’m going to skip past the debates, and the raucous about a “binding and conforming BYU” and speak to those who are believing the nonsense. I want to tell you–future students– why I think you’ll forget about ALL of that.
I came to BYU-Idaho in the spring of 2009–just six months after getting baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And boy. I was so nervous I went to the bathroom like ten times in an hour upon moving in. Don’t worry–you’ll be that nervous too. *Have fun with that*
It was actually a really hard time in my life. After getting baptized I had lost *literally* all my close friends that I had grown up with since Kindergarten and a huge chunk of family–they didn’t understand why I’d choose to be Mormon all of a sudden, and some of them thought that affiliating with me would drag them down to hell too. But, pushing through, I applied to BYU-Idaho and made myself just go. But I was nervous. Would everyone judge me? Would my room mates, who most likely went to church all their lives, not click with me? Would the honor code be hard for me to live since I was JUST drinking tea and mochas a handful of months ago? Anxiety followed me all the way to the border of Rexburg.
But then, after the bags were unpacked and pictures were taped to my side of the room and my family had said their goodbyes and went back home, I began my four years.
And I was surprised to find that instead of figuring out my way through the next four years, this school figured out it’s way through me.
Friends won’t be hard to come by.
I learned early on that you won’t make friends if you don’t also put in the effort to meet new people, stay involved, and connect with your room mates early on (just like anywhere else). I also learned this key thing–BYU students are people too. Converts to the church or just investigating the church at times. From Africa or from down the road. From a single-parent household or from a family of twelve. I learned right away that I’m not an outlier.
You have a truckload of fun–even with the rules. Yeah. I said it.
You dress like idiots and you play like kids. Even when the clock strikes midnight you stay awake til 4 in the morning talking to your roommates about the universe, boyfriends, upcoming tests–whatever. You hike up mountains with Family Home Evening groups and you spelunk (didn’t even know that was a verb til BYU) through ice caves. You go on dates that leave you with, well–sometimes hilarious stories for semesters to come. You go off-roading and you eat way too much.
And before long you realize that all those “rules” didn’t keep you from any of it.
You learn that God loves you. You REALLY learn it for a fact.
From temple trips to field trips to Nauvoo (a yearly opportunity for students, and the most spiritual experience of my life) to late-night conversations about the gospel with your roommate to messages left for you on mirrors *which you find remnants of even after scrubbing for an hour*, you feel love here. It’s hard not to feel the very real and sacred spirit about the campus, the teachers, the students. One of my very favorite things to do while at BYU-Idaho was to climb to the top of the stadium bleachers during Sunday night’s “Stadium singing”. While a large group of students beneath the bleachers were singing hymns, I’d stare up at the stars and all across campus–straight to the temple on the hill in the distance. It was my weekly reminder to stay grateful that I was brought to this very place at this very moment. It was my weekly reminder that this campus was set apart with me–and everyone else in mind–even before I was born.
You learn. And I mean a whooooole lot.
My favorite times at BYU-Idaho included the learning that took place.
And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m a nerd.
Even if you’re not too great at the whole school thing, BYU-Idaho meets you halfway–I promise. As an aspiring journalist I had the opportunity to work for the campus news station all four years. As a student of the gospel I had classes each semester where we’d dive into the scriptures, discuss questions, and learn from professors who not only carry a lifetime of knowledge–but a heart-full of discernment and love for the students. As a lover of travel and different cultures I became fluent in Spanish within the amazing classes that took you all across the world with foreign poetry, art, and stories.
Sure, you’ll have teachers who don’t really float your boat. And that’s okay. But instead of dwelling on that one teacher or that one class that really kicked my trash–I decided to remember the teacher who took time out of his day to take me aside and ask me what’s wrong just because “he felt something”. I remember the class that taught me that kindness in the workplace matters (I really needed that lesson later in life). I remember the devotionals each Tuesday that seemed like a hassle to go to when homework was piled high, but that soon found me years later when I needed some words to lean on and I found those notes in a notepad. At BYU schools you learn how to be. Not just who to become later.
You forget the honor code–simply because it’s who you are now.
You might’ve thought from my title that I meant you’ll forget the honor code–and that you’ll therefore mess up somewhere down the line. But chances are, you won’t.
Chances are, you’ll make curfew (even if that means somersaulting through the door at 11:59) and chances are tank tops or shorts wouldn’t even be tempting when snow comes to your knees and the wind freezes your eyelashes. Chances are, you’ll be chaste on your dates because you remember the amazing people and gospel that you’re reminded of on a daily basis that you’re accountable to. And chances are if you stay involved and never forget to be on a daily quest to learn and grow and improve on a campus that’s consecrated especially for you–you won’t have thoughts about leaving it for something better.
Is this the most bias blog post in the world? Possibly.
But I wrote it because I’m excited for you.
I still walk Rexburg’s old roads in my mind sometimes. I still feel the bits of snow on my face as I walk to class. I still visit old classrooms and see the faces of old teachers who changed my life. And I still sit on the top of those bleachers in my mind, overlooking the campus that encircled me for four years–teaching me about God’s love.
And teaching me honor.