Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

My Freshman Year Experience (And What I Learned So Far) Part 1

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

My first year of college was cut short because of the pandemic, but my experiences in the past six months have made a huge impact on my life. I like to say I had a pretty great time at school and I already miss it very much. Here is a list of some of the lessons I have learned so far: 

I did a whole lot of growing this year, and I am proud of it

I got out of my depression from my high school experiences, found ways to deal with my anxiety, learned to adjust into college and I am currently learning to deal with the craziness of the pandemic. 

Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress
Anna Schultz / Her Campus

Friendships can mean two different things to two different people

I realized that I was in a “blind” relationship with many of the people that I was friends with in high school. While I love and care for my high school friends very much, I did realize that I was not compatible with them at all. A few people were using me for their own advantage or came to me whenever they needed something. The term “friend” is used very loosely in our culture. In my personal dictionary, friends are people I enjoy being around and I am growing with, together. They should care for you and want what is best for you. Many of my “friends” were actually acquaintances that I let go of. 

I learned that I am not “loud” when I state my opinions

Women have been, and still are, told that we are “loud” when we state what is on our minds. I have grown tired of that traditional, social construct that is still prevalent in society, the toxic masculinity I witness and the stink eye I catch from others. We live in a country where I am allowed to state my concerns and beliefs so I am going to do it. I see it as a privilege and I am going to use it for the better good of society. 

Major in whatever you want because college will not give you the recipe to success

Going to such a STEM-focused university as a creative student is extremely tough. I was insecure coming into UC Irvine as an arts student. I felt that I did not succeed because I was not a STEM major. However, I really got to know the film community at UCI, and have met amazing supporters and professionals who help me achieve my goals. There’s never one specific way of succeeding, and you should do whatever you can to enjoy your time in college. Do not major in something you absolutely dread, because you will burn out. Passion is what keeps you going and growing. 

On being happily single

When you are adjusting to huge life changes of college, you should simply not jump straight into relationships if you are not ready. I was socially pressured to date, but I knew that my journey is going to be different than others so I did not. I think this is the best decision I made because I learned to be comfortable and happy with myself, before allowing someone into my life. 

The importance of boundaries

Building boundaries is the best thing you can do for yourself when you feel vulnerable. Cutting toxic people out of your life helps you protect your well-being, and prevents people from manipulating you for their own benefit. There are many free Instagram accounts, books and YouTube videos about building boundaries!

NOT getting a food plan was a very good idea

I know students who live in freshman housing have to get a meal plan at UC Irvine, but I lived somewhere else on campus, so I did not have to get one. I did not experience the “Freshman Fifteen” but I definitely learned the importance of taking care of myself physically. Knowing how to cook is a good skill to have in college, especially if you want to impress your friends and give them a home-cooked meal at school! 

I plan to post a Part 2 version of this list and I think it will keep getting longer and longer in the next three years. I am growing every single day, and I am so grateful that I have the privilege of being able to attend an amazing university, even if it is online for now. There are times where I find myself feeling unsatisfied with my successes in situations right now, but I am definitely trying to have a positive mindset and know I am not alone. Remember, the young adult years are all about learning and growing! This time is the best time to self-reflect and to question many aspects of your life!

Rehana is pursuing double degrees in Film & Media and Ethnic Studies with an interest in screenwriting, creative non-fiction, and oral histories. A proud Capricorn, she enjoys spending her time daydreaming about flaky pastries, baby otters and Studio Ghibli films.