I just finished my first semester of college, and since college was always the one big milestone you were looking forward to, I’m here to let you know that things aren’t exactly how we expected them to be. Fear not, though, I’m here to quell all your worries and let you know how our first semester went.

Dear little Alicia,

I just finished my first semester of college, and since college was always the one big milestone you were looking forward to, I’m here to let you know that things aren’t exactly how we expected them to be. Fear not, though, I’m here to quell all your worries and let you know how our first semester went.

Classes

I think before entering college, we were living in some fairy tale dream land where every single class we were gonna take was gonna be some super niche thing we’re interested in that we could never take in high school like “The Fantastical World of Fanfiction.” Unfortunately, there is no such class (at least at my school). Instead, I did end up getting stuck with some general ed classes that I would not have chosen to take otherwise, specifically, science classes. To my surprise, though, I actually thoroughly enjoyed both my physical and biological science classes. I’ve known ever since elementary school that I’m no STEM kid. I’ve always been more inclined to write a ten page essay or draft up an argument against a SCOTUS case than do a lab and stain my hands with toxic chemicals when I inevitably drop an Erlenmeyer flask on the floor. I was dreaming of the day when I could be out of high school and escape the torturous grip of chemistry and biology. I suppose I see now why general ed classes exist, though, because the two STEM classes I did end up having to take this past semester were both interesting and useful, not something I feel like I can say for every science class I’ve taken. 

Dining Hall Food

It’s not as bad as people make it out to be! This could be recency bias talking, but the convenience of having a full buffet just down the street and at my constant disposal feels like a lot of power for a fresh out of high school student. A big part of it is definitely the lack of actual cooking I’m able to do due to being confined in a dorm room with just a microwave, but out of the options I have, the dining hall doesn’t let me down. I don’t have to cook the food, there’s so many choices, and I’m actually eating a nutritionally balanced meal. If that’s not a win, then I don’t know what is.

Friends

Everything our mom said was right. After high school, you only keep in touch with five of your friends at most. And that’s being generous. I’ve only been out of high school for half a year, and I’ve already forgotten the last names of half of the people I used to get the most heartfelt birthday presents for. I think what surprised me the most was how natural it felt. It didn’t feel like I was cutting a bunch of people off at once or completely letting go of a different part of myself. It just felt like it became more obvious than ever who I was willing to make time for and who was willing to make time for me. At college, I don’t have a million friends or know everybody’s name like in elementary school. However, I feel closer to the friends I have right now than I have with any of the people I met in thirteen years of the mandatory public school system. We all make it clear how much we appreciate each other, always take time out of our weeks to spend together, and always have each other’s backs. I think that’s a lot cooler (and definitely a lot healthier) than that high school feeling that everyone secretly hates you, even your best friends.

Lifestyle

Living in a dorm isn’t as bad as we thought it would be, but it isn’t great either. To be completely honest, I rolled the dice and didn’t come out on top when it came to roommates. Even so, I’m making the best of it. We’ve always been sort of independent, so living on our own hasn’t been a huge challenge. It feels a lot like being home alone except indefinitely. I still talk to our mom every week, and I still text family and friends from home. But I’m not really lonely, and I don’t find myself missing home too much. I can tell because the first thing I wanted to do when I came back home for winter break was hang out with my college friend, weird as it seems. It mostly felt like I had never left. Everything here was still the same, and so was I. We just had little differences. Like the annoying construction on that one street we took to work everyday over the summer was finally done, replaced with a beautifully efficient new lane. Or that our mom got those fancy toilet paper holder things for our bathrooms so that we don’t have to desperately call for someone to ransack the closet for TP when we run out in the middle of peeing. 

Going into college, I thought everything was gonna be completely different and scary, but it wasn’t. My first semester was amazing. I made new friends, joined clubs, and tried new things. I’d be lying if I said every second of it was sunshine and rainbows, but I’d also be lying if I said every second was pure hell. It was a mix up of highs and lows, and in the end, I came out of it feeling brighter and happier than ever. So, little Alicia, I think you’ll be just fine!

To my younger self: A semester into college, here’s what I know!

I just finished my first semester of college, and since college was always the one big milestone you were looking forward to, I’m here to let you know that things aren’t exactly how we expected them to be. Fear not, though, I’m here to quell all your worries and let you know how our first semester went.

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