Growing up, I knew everyone in school. I went to a small charter school where the size of my graduating class was 118. Not only that, but my school was K-12, meaning that I had gone to the same school my entire life, with the same people.
I had my sights set on going to CU for years, and I never once considered the fact of how much culture shock I would experience. I was always one for change, trying to keep my life in a regular routine, yet also experiencing new cultures, food, etc. when I could. If anything, going to CU felt like a challenge. Plus I was only an hour away from my hometown, so how different could it really be?
Turns out, it can be really different. I remember driving behind my parents on my way to move in, and there’s a point where you drive over a hill and are able to see all of campus from the road. I started crying at that moment, seeing just how big of a school I was going to, and how scared I was of forming connections. It’s not that making friends was difficult for me, but I hadn’t had to make friends in this capacity since elementary school.
Everything seemed intimidating when I stepped on campus. I barely knew where anything was and Google Maps became my best friend. My roommate didn’t come for another two days, which meant that I was all on my own after my parents hugged me goodbye.
Luckily, just as everything seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t know if I’d make it, I actually adjusted to my new environment quite quickly. From meetups to orientations to meals with people you don’t know, I never had time to overthink what was happening. By the time classes started the next week, being at CU felt normal.
In my experience coming to college, I noticed that the more you immerse yourself into something, the faster you adapt to it. I threw myself into everything I could bring myself to (including goat yoga!) and made a small community of people that I could go to academically or socially.
It’s still an odd feeling that I will never be able to know everyone in my class, let alone my own residence hall. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many people you know as long as you’ve found people who care about you, no matter what. In a busy and possibly isolating environment, forming connections is so important, and easier than most of us think. Everyone is in a situation where no one knows anyone, and just one wave or “hi” in the hallway can set you up for a successful semester.