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Original photo by Yukiko Takei

3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was a Freshman

Being a freshman doesn't always come with the good feelings you want to have. You don’t even know what you don’t know, and you get too anxious about everything like; “can I make new friends?” “What if I make a bad course selection?” “ will my dorm experience be as amazing as many say it will?”

Thinking back to my freshman year, there are some gaps between what I initially thought I was experiencing and how college life actually is. Here are three things I, junior year student, want you to know to avoid expectations:

 Your Major Can Be Changed At Any Time

One of the biggest reasons you chose ICU could be that you can declare your major after you start school. Even with this fact in mind, you probably still have your specific interests in mind and that’s wonderful! But, don’t stick with it too much.

I was initially interested in business, sociology, and Media Culture and Communications, but just one class on public policy led me to change my major. In my major declaration process, I took ten fundamental courses for different majors before finally deciding my major. I regret a little bit to take them too many (you can decide your major by taking less than ten) but the experience was definitely worth it too.

Taking English Courses Is Not Such A Big Deal.

Taking a course in a language you are not familiar with seems like a really a big deal. Many of you who are native Japanese speakers might hesitate to take an English course. Before I took courses taught in English, I was anxious and taking courses in your non-native language is a little bit of an overwhelming experience. However, you can still manage to take your English or non-native language courses. For example, if you are not able to understand what the professor, required readings, or assignments said, don’t hesitate to ask. Most of professors are willing to help your course be beneficial and fruitful. Communicate with professors or classmates, either online or in person (if you can) and try to understand what is going on the class. Making friends in your class can also help you in many ways. Cooperating with your friends means you can have double the knowledge and can cheer each other on when you're having a tough time in the class. There are definitely students who feel anxious as you do, so try to talk to them!

Opportunity Lies Everywhere!

Unlike high school, there’re always lots of opportunities for you in college. When I was a freshman I went to South Korea to learn about Korea-Japan relations and make a presentation with other undergraduate and graduate students. I found this opportunity by chance when I saw lots of leaflets on the bulletin board. When I was a sophomore, I got information about the Global Link program when I was talking to Professor Mark Williams, who I became close to by chance as well. During the Global Link program, I stayed in New York for one month and met dozens of ICU alumni who work in the States. From these experiences, I can proudly tell you that you are the only one who can change who you are and make your university life fruitful. Go check what kind of opportunities are out there for you through ICU portal or social media related to your interests!

Just like the phrase "YOLO (You Only Live Once)", your freshman experience also only happens once. It's all up to you to make your freshman life fruitful. Don't forget that you can do anything and don't make any excuses just "because I'm a freshman"!

Yukiko Takei

ICU Japan '22

Hi, I am Yukiko and am currently studying at the University of Gothenburg as exchange student remotely, majoring in public policy.
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