For Freshmen: New Roots

The first time I called my dorm at UC Berkeley “home,” I didn’t mean it. I had just gotten dinner with my roommates and I was tired from having moved in earlier that day so I told them, “Let’s go home.” I was mentally and physically drained, and overcome with loneliness despite being surrounded by thousands of my classmates. My heart was still in the house I grew up in, with my mom’s beef stew and my cat, Barack, and my high school friends. All I could do was acknowledge that my life had irreversibly changed, and figure out how to adapt.

This is not to say that I wasn’t excited for college. I was, and still am, more than ecstatic to  begin life as an independent adult and learn all the secrets of, well, adulting. My classes would be nothing like I expected, I would follow a path I didn’t plan. And I attached myself to this idea of adventure and discovery, but I also mourned the circumstances––everything familiar and comforting that I was leaving behind.

If you’re a freshman reading this, chances are you’re like me––you have a group of friends or a few close ones from back home who you can’t believe you won’t be seeing every day from here on out. You may have friends who you weren’t close with until you realized you should’ve branched out more in high school. And there are those classmates who you may never see again. At some point, you’ll realize that your family, wherever they may be, are too far away.

But, if you’re like me, you’ve befriended your roommates, become connected with others at orientation and social gatherings, and maybe you’ve even started to identify the crowd you want to be with. You’ve known these people for a week, but you feel you’ve started to put down new roots. Before experiencing this myself, it was easy to forget how quickly these new bonds can form when I was wrapped up in feeling isolated and alone. Again, it’s been a week, but now I mean it when I want to go “home” back to my dorm, in which my roommates and I have nested particularly messily in, but everything is still where it should be. I’ve learned that we, as humans, thrive on connection with others and our surroundings, and I think it’s amazing how readily we are able to adapt to change to find it––it only makes sense that this is how we most easily survive.