How I Navigated My First Year

My first year at UC Davis is one that I will never forget. I moved to a whole new place and lived with two people I had never met before. I come from a town about the same size as Davis; however, I am also from a close family, so leaving them was difficult and the homesickness was real. When I first left, I thought I was unstoppable, and although I would say that I was, I did not realize that I would have to learn to navigate the campus in order to finally feel confident in what I was doing and even where I was going. 

Image Credit: Bonnie Kittle

Initially, I found it difficult to find a solid group of friends. For some, it is easy to find friends right off-the-bat because when everyone moves into the residence halls right before instruction begins, they are all looking for friends, and that is what happened to me. I thought I found some new amazing friends during my first month in Davis, but I found that very few of the friends I made stayed friends with me. Slowly, some people on my floor that I hung out with began hanging out with other students and I found myself feeling lonely. It was not until my second year that I discovered that I was not the only one who felt this way. As I began finding organizations to become involved in, I began finding friends that I could confide in and that I felt like I could trust. Once I began making these connections, I felt more confident as a UC Davis student. 

The confidence I developed to join student organizations came from familiarizing myself with the campus. From my experience, I spent a good amount of time inside my room in the residence halls, and, on my floor, that was normal for many of my floormates. When the weather became warmer, I forced myself to leave the comfort of my room, and venture into the unknown parts of campus. I discovered the arboretum and some of the best places to study in Shields Library. Each of those places I had previously refused to visit, out of fear of the unfamiliarity I initially felt, are now familiar to me. 

Image Credit: Silvestri Matteo

Another helpful tool for being on campus at UC Davis is understanding the opportunities that are here. There are resources that support students in many aspects of life, from figuring out how to study abroad to mental health. This university has many programs implemented in order to ensure student success, but sometimes the problem is finding out about them. 

I know that when I came to visit Davis for the first time, the number of programs offered overwhelmed me, but do your best to do your research. If there is something you need help with, odds are there is somewhere you can go or someone who can help. This overwhelming feeling is what inspired me to work for the First-Year Orientation program, and then take a job as a First-Year Academic Peer Mentor, where I have the opportunity to mentor students by answering their academic questions or refer them to the resources on campus that best suit their concerns. These jobs helped me understand that what I was feeling when I first came to college is completely normal because the effects of transitioning to college can come in all different forms. However, in my case, finding confidence in where I was, made me more apt to finding friends and community.