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How My First Year of Zoom University Went

Going to college for the first time during a global pandemic can be summed up in one word: wild. From terrible breakout rooms to rapid COVID testing to the new normal saying of “Oh crap! I forgot my mask,” my freshman year of Zoom university has been quite a wild ride. Here is a breakdown of some of the highlights.

First off, making friends is difficult. I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you that I had the easiest time meeting people because, in reality, it is hard! And with all of us being in single dorm rooms, I would argue that the extra barrier makes it even harder. But in some wonderful way that I don’t yet fully comprehend, I met the most wonderful people on the UCD campus. Not to mention – I’m incredibly lucky and fortunate enough to be on campus and immersed in campus life. But through joining different clubs, organizations, and truly just putting in the effort to connect with the people around me (both physically and virtually), I've managed to meet some wonderful humans my first year here, and I am almost certain that I will continue to meet more the more time I spend here.  Second, UCD is home. It didn’t feel like home at first, and with homesickness, stress from classes, and the anxiety that independence comes with, it took a while for it to feel like home. But now that it does, I truly can’t imagine myself living or being at any other university. I’ve found people that remind me that life is so worth living, I’ve discovered myself and challenged my capabilities with the rigorous yet infinitely interesting lessons I’m learning during class and I’ve immersed myself in campus life through exploring the wonderful scenery. The farmer’s market has become one of my absolute favorite destinations, and I’m certainly going to miss the chilly yet exciting bike rides to downtown every early Saturday morning.

[bf_image id="h3nzgh37w6c4n85vh5gcqw79"] Being at Davis has also solidified my love for Northern California. I was born and raised in Southern California and have resided there for most of my life, never even stepping foot in NorCal. But while my parents may groan at the six(ish) something hour drive from SoCal up to the North, I gaze with excitement and amazement at the greenery once we make it above Central Cali. There is a certain excitement and homey feel Northern California generates for me, one that I’m excited to feel each time we make the drive up here.

As for classes, I’ve really learned how to challenge myself. One of the most difficult aspects of Zoom university has been the breakout rooms. I’ll just say it right now – sometimes, they are absolutely terrible. The amount of anxiety and frustration I feel when I’m the only one putting in the effort to talk and connect with others and hearing nothing on the other end feels mentally damaging and draining. But, as the optimist in me is saying, some breakout rooms are super productive and helpful. However, those great breakout rooms seem to be harder and harder to get lucky with. Nevertheless, I have found that putting in the effort to attend office hours and connect with my professors and TAs have the key to succeeding in classes. Plus, you get to talk to wonderful humans doing wonderful things in the world of research and academia!

[bf_image id="qg2f0y-awgq9c-cgbeqx"] As an incoming second-year saying goodbye to the excitement of the college freshman experience, I can’t help but think of all the adversity our world has been faced with this year. But while I’m just a tiny human living a tiny life in such a big world that’s facing huge problems, I have faith that even the most adverse issues we are faced with can be conquered. And, with the pandemic turning around, I also can’t help but think that the world is finally moving in the right direction. So fear not incoming first years, there is immense hope. I’m sure that wherever you end up and whatever path you are directed towards during your time at UCD, it’ll be worth every second of what we are facing now.

Catalina is currently a third-year English major at University of California, Davis. Her interests include watching Studio Ghibli movies, reading fantasy novels, listening to Broadway musicals, and cooking with her family. After graduation, Catalina would like to become a high school English teacher and share her love of storytelling with her future students. :)
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