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Your First Semester Does Not Define Your College Experience

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Driving to UMass in the passenger seat of my mom’s car during move-in day was a very emotional experience. My circumstances were a bit unique, as I was not able to move on campus until I was a sophomore due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, my head was filled with the same thoughts that all freshmen experience when arriving on campus: Will it be easy to make friends? Will I get along with my roommate? How will I decorate my room? What will my classes be like? Although I was incredibly nervous to live on my own, I was still incredibly excited to have my own freedom and to begin a new chapter of my life. 

My first semester was the opposite of how I imagined it would be. I struggled tremendously in my classes; the workload was overwhelming and it had been a huge step up from online classes that I had recently adjusted to. I questioned whether or not I belonged in my major or if I should switch to something entirely different. I also suffered from loneliness and found myself envious of my classmates who were always posting about their weekend plans while I sat alone in my dorm room. I was homesick and I ended up driving home almost every weekend to get my mind off of college. Winter break couldn’t come fast enough. 

Things turned around for me during the spring semester. When I returned from winter break, I was worried that I would face a repeat of the last semester. As time went on, I realized that my experiences were totally different. I have developed a daily routine that allows me to be productive while simultaneously prioritizing my mental health. I have become more outgoing and broke out of my comfort zone to meet new people. My classes are much more manageable, and the material is much more interesting as well. We are currently halfway through the spring semester, and it feels like it is flying by! I feel much less isolated and much more confident in myself. 

By the end of my first semester on campus, I felt like giving up. I was mentally and physically exhausted and unsure if I would be able to handle another semester living on campus. I decided to give it one more try this semester, and if things didn’t work out I could always try different options, such as commuting. Luckily, I have adopted a new mindset regarding college and am much happier than I have been before. Three months seemed like an eternity at the time, but I’ve learned that you should always give something a second chance, even if you think it’ll never work out in your favor.  Don’t give up if you’re having a difficult time; your experiences will be different each semester. You will be enrolled in new classes where you can meet new people and make new memories. Keeping a positive and open mindset is the key to enjoying your time on campus!

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Serena Chiasson

U Mass Amherst '24

Serena is a sophomore at UMass Amherst studying biomedical engineering.