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How I Navigated UC Irvine As A First-Year College Student

I didn’t know what to expect when coming into UC Irvine. I’m from Orange County, so the campus wasn’t my top choice because I wanted to travel, see new spots, and meet new people. I was still a bundle of excitement and nervousness to start college, but my expectations weren’t too high. Meeting my wonderful roommates gave me some hope for a good year, but other than that, I wasn’t sure where I would fit into UCI’s atmosphere. However, my experience here has proven me wrong every day.

Each event at UCI, whether it be during Welcome Week or through various clubs, have truly been enjoyable. Everyone I’ve met has been so welcoming and friendly.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when school can become overwhelming or when my “FOMO” can be anxiety-inducing. Overall, carving my own space here at UCI is proving not to be as intimidating as I thought.

My first few weeks at UCI remained jam-packed, whether it was with my classes or events I attended through clubs. The quarter system is most definitely a major adjustment, especially coming from a semester-based high school. However, once you get the hang of it, the quarter system actually has a lot of benefits.

For instance, I like being in a fast-paced environment and the ability to fit in more classes than I’d be able to through the semester system. At times, the quarter system can be very overwhelming, but taking time out of my day to ground myself has been very helpful. From sitting in Aldrich Park, to listening to music when I’m walking from class to class, prioritizing self-care is vital.

My first quarter took some getting used to, but I’ve really enjoyed my in-person classroom experience. The fact that I get to interact with people and attend class in person, compared to my virtual senior year high school experience, has been a significant shift that I’ve come to love.

After Week 5 of my first fall quarter, everything seemed to slow down a bit at the moment. Looking back at it now, I can’t believe how fast the quarter went. I’ve made so many enjoyable memories like exploring campus with my roommates and meeting new people at club events. I can’t wait to continue embarking on new experiences next quarter.

Though the Fall quarter is quickly coming to an end, I think it’s important we all reflect on how our experiences these past weeks have shaped us. Make sure to set goals for what we want the next few months to look like. Before we know it, winter quarter will be over, so focus on living in the moment to make the most out of your college experience.

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Camelia Heins

UC Irvine '25

Camelia Heins is a first year Political Science major from Orange County, California. She enjoys writing poetry, listening to several of her Spotify playlists, collecting plants, and playing with her cat, Moira.
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