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My First Semester At UConn As A Junior-Year Transfer Student

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

I remember my senior year of high school proudly decorating my graduation cap with a sparkly version of the college I had committed to’s logo, excited for what the next four years would bring me. There was nothing more devastating than when I knew I had to leave two and a half years later and transfer for the sake of my health and safety. As scary as it was to pick up everything I knew and start over, after this past semester here at the University of Connecticut, I can firmly say it was a decision that saved my life.

With the semester wrapping up, it’s time to look back and reflect on my first semester at UConn as someone who transferred the spring semester of my junior year, arguably late in a college career. First, I will say that I absolutely made the right decision to transfer schools. At UConn, I have been exposed to so many more opportunities, experiences, and people than I ever could at my former college. I want to outline the most impactful aspects of the past four months of this first semester: the physics department and research, the fencing club, and the size of the school itself.

Research in the Physics Department

If you want to do any sort of research, you need to go to a big school. I thought I wanted a small, intimate school where your professors know your name and everyone was comfortable speaking in class. While that does have its benefits, what it does not have is funding. I wanted to learn how to do the research I intend to do for the rest of my life. At my former school, I would only have the opportunity to do that for my senior thesis (if I did one). In my first few weeks at UConn, I spoke with the professor of my astrophysics class and had a meeting with him that same week to talk about developing a plan for an undergraduate research project. Now, I am applying for two grants to fund my work over the summer, something that I didn’t even know you could do at the undergraduate level. I am extremely proud of the work I have been doing and having opportunities like these reminds me why I want to be an astrophysicist. I had believed that I wouldn’t be able to feel the love I have for my field until I reached graduate school.

I will also be the vice president of the Women in Physics Club for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year, a club that didn’t exist at my former school because of the size of the department. Being able to surround myself with fellow women in physics in such a male-dominated field has been a crucial source of confidence in my ability to pursue my degree and my career in the future.

Fencing Club

Anyone who knows me would not be surprised that I fell in love with a sport that’s all about strategically stabbing people. This is also a club that doesn’t exist at my former school and if it did, I would have felt too embarrassed to join and learn something new. Opening myself up to learn something new, especially a sport when I have never in my life been physically active, is terrifying. The people in this club have made me so comfortable with learning the sport and I have so much fun with it that I plan on continuing to practice over the summer. I went with the club on a trip to Virginia Beach for the Collegiate Fencing Club national tournament and I had a wonderful experience with everyone despite not performing well in the tournament itself. I feel more free to be myself and try something new, scary, and potentially embarrassing. 

A Big Fish in a Big Pond

My former school had a student population of roughly 2,100 students. The University of Connecticut has about 19,000 undergraduates at the Storrs campus alone. There are endless comparisons to make regarding the difference in the student body’s collective personalities. At such a small school, mostly made up of students coming from private boarding schools, there was always a sense of competition between peers and the sense that everyone knew everything about everyone. For me, there was always a self-consciousness and general anxiety about how anything I did would be perceived. Not from nowhere I might add. For example, I once overheard a girl who lived on the same floor as me making fun of how I startled when she entered the common bathroom at 3 a.m. and mocked that I had made a noise and jumped. I was also bullied harshly by the first group of friends I made during my freshman year, adding to my insecurities.

I have learned a lot about myself in the two years since and have grown a lot as a person, regaining some of my confidence. In just a few weeks at UConn, I had already met people who I really believe care for me and whom I truly consider friends. I no longer feel that looming pressure to perform for my peers because if I do something embarrassing or off here, who is there that can even put a name to whom they’re judging? The freedom I have found in my anonymity at a big school has taken a suffocating pressure off my shoulders. The people I have met here have been quicker to accept me and kinder (at least to my face) overall.


Due to the transfer, I will no longer be graduating with the class of 2025 but with the class of 2026. At first, I was upset and embarrassed to have to delay my graduation. Now, I am looking forward to the time that I have to do research, bond with my new friends, and meet more of the 19,000+ people who call Storrs home for the majority of the year. As sad as I am that my life went in a different direction than my high school self imagined, I am glad that I ended up here. In conclusion, go Huskies!

Lia Gilmore is a writer for Her Campus at the UCONN chapter. Lia is a junior undergraduate physics major and astrophysics minor at the University of Connecticut. She wants to become an astrophysicist and study black holes and stellar formation. Before coming to UConn, Lia started her undergraduate journey at a different institution and has insight into the transfer experience. Lia is deeply interested in feminism and looks forward to studying it further and expressing those ideas in an organization built for college women. Outside of academics, Lia loves to crochet, watch YouTube, and read in her spare time. Lia is from Long Island, New York where she enjoys the company of her family and Sato dog Ollie. Lia would describe herself in one word as determined and she will not hesitate to tell you a very long story of a time she beat the odds. Lia looks forward to contributing to such an important database of college women's voices and experiences. Lia writing interests include feminism, pop culture, science, opinion, and advice articles based on experience and research through an easy-to-read lens. Lia is hoping to start undergraduate research this semester and wants to gain more experience in journalistic writing before devoting her life to academic papers.