Flashback to Freshman Friendships

With the current COVID-19 crisis and schools either moving online or being cancelled entirely, it can be difficult to remain in a happy, healthy mindset, especially when social interactions are discouraged. One thing that gives me comfort, though, is knowing that no matter what happens, my friends will always be with me–whether physically or virtually–and vice versa. Keeping in touch with friends and classmates has really been helping me through this situation. In fact, just the other day, a few of my friends and I used Netflix Watch Party to watch Love is Blind together, but since it doesn't include a video chat, we stayed on the phone throughout the show and I had a blast–I didn't feel lonely or scared, despite being home alone. Although the academic year isn’t officially over, during this time of social distancing and remaining at home, I thought it would be nice to “flashback” to my Freshman year of college and share some appreciation for the wonderful people I’ve met and befriended along the way. 

Cardi B facetime

There’s so much I could say about my first year at California Lutheran University, and I’ll be honest, there was a time when I debated whether or not it was the school for me. Now, though, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’ve always gotten the sense that everyone is included, valued, and known here, especially since it’s a small campus; there was hardly any doubt that I could feel at home here, and the people around me reinforced that feeling of belonging. Sure, during new student orientation and at the beginning of the school year, I was really shy and afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends, but once I did, I knew I was meant to be here.

palm trees sunset pink sky fun adventure original

I already knew a handful of my fellow students, some from high school and some from an overnight inCLUsive event on campus back in March (shout out to Madison, Sydney, and Shyenne!), but I was really excited to meet new people. My biggest concern, though, was whether or not I would feel like I belonged since I wouldn’t be living on campus. As a commuter student, it can be pretty hard to meet, befriend, and hang out with resident students. I’m so lucky and grateful to have met some amazing residents, though, some of whom I met through my Freshman Seminar class; (I’d like to think) we first bonded during our service project event for new student orientation when we drove up to the Ventura Botanical Gardens to help make it cleaner. Despite our differences, it was so easy and fun to talk to them, especially my service project partner Coleman, and we found out that we also had the same honors tutorial course. That’s where I met even more amazing people and we created a study group (my first ever study group of college–shout out to the Arts/Civ gang!) that met once every week, which made me feel included despite not living on campus. 

 

In addition to meeting friends through my classes, I made some great friends through Her Campus. I was unsure of joining, mostly because I didn’t know if I would have time for it, but I’m so glad I decided to join after all because it led me to some of my closest friends. I still remember the moment when I first met my friend Melissa during our Big/Little Reveal; she unexpectedly approached me with such an open, friendly manner that I immediately wanted to be her friend. Sure enough, we clicked and met up for lunch every week after that. She actually knew a handful of other commuters, and we all met through her, forming a “commuter-friend group.” It felt so good to have a stable, constant source of support and friendly interaction, and I really wouldn’t have made it without Her Campus, which led me to Melissa, and so on. 

Girls in the sunset

At the beginning of this current semester, it’s no surprise that I made even more friends. As highlighted in one of my past articles, I took a course with a week-long travel seminar during which we stayed at Luther Glen Farm and traveled to various places, one of which was Chicano Park. I was so nervous for the trip, afraid that someone might judge me for the way I sleep, eat or some other aspect of myself, but a day in, I realized that my classmates were going through the same thing I was; we all were excited for a new day, hoped for some free time in the middle of it, and grew tired at the end of it, but the best thing was bonding over a Chinese drama on Netflix. That, plus several car rides of non-stop collective singing, eased me of my worries and helped me grow closer to these people whom I’d only met when we began the trip. When it was time for us to return to campus and begin our class for the semester, I had a new, personal connection with my classmates, and a few of them have graciously invited me to hang out and even stay with them on campus a few times. 

Hands forming the shape of a heartAlthough it’s difficult to name them all, the friends I made and kept during my first year at Cal Lu really made me feel at home on campus, despite being a commuter. Since the rest of the semester will be all remote learning, I’m sad that I won’t see my classmates again in person, but I’m grateful to have met them and spent whatever time we had together. Although we are in such a troubling, uncertain time that has everyone practicing social distancing and staying inside, I still feel connected to every one of my friends and grateful beyond words for their friendship.