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In all honesty, I didn’t anticipate all the feelings that I would be having during the first week of school this year. It was a bit of a contradiction. I was excited to be in a dorm on campus and get the whole “college experience,” but I had also never felt like such a small fish in such a big pond. These felt like appropriate freshman feelings to me, but as a sophomore, it felt particularly weird. I had been enrolled at UCLA for a year, I had lived in Westwood during the school year last year, and I had been going to classes (albeit online) for a year too. But it felt like such a huge adjustment. I was basically living in the same place as I was last year, but the differences couldn’t have been bigger. 

It feels like I’m supposed to know everything already. I’m supposed to know where my classes are (can someone send me a map of the INSIDE of the buildings please); I’m supposed to know which dining hall to go to; I’m supposed to know where to go out and have fun. I honestly do not know these things. Let’s be real: this campus is large, all of the dining halls have lines, and I am only beginning to understand public transportation in Los Angeles. This is okay. It’s only been three weeks. Not even a month. You really don’t have to know everything. I’ve just been learning as I go along. 

I now know that I can’t sleep until three o’clock in the afternoon because I won’t be able to go to the dining hall for “breakfast” until five. I know that not everyone knows each other and it’s okay that it might take a bit for me to meet new people (I joined a few clubs; apparently this helps).

It can be super disorienting to be in this weird, little city within a city (that’s how campus feels to me sometimes), be adhering to the eating schedules of others and the rules of others when you’re living on your own and becoming a semi-adult. It’s okay to tell your roommate(s) you need an hour of privacy so that you can do karaoke in your room by yourself. 

I think the best piece of advice I’ve gotten is that I need to get comfortable being by myself. I need to be able to go to the dining hall by myself or to the library by myself or even to the beach by myself for a couple of hours just to sit and read a smutty book if I want to. If no one wants to go to the football game that day, that’s fine. I like being with my friends and being surrounded by people, but once I feel not just comfortable, but content with being by myself, the better of an experience I will have at UCLA for the next couple of years. 

To even be on campus right now comes with all of these expectations and assumptions and worries (don’t even get me started on sticking to a major) but the best way to go about the adjustment is to take it one day at a time. It’s the little wins that matter. Maybe I didn’t do my laundry today, but I met someone new on my floor. Or maybe I sat in the wrong classroom for 20 minutes, but at least I found the right building. Especially with the pandemic still going on, everything feels weird right now. So, if you’re a sophomore but you still feel like a freshman, you’re definitely not alone. 

Leila is from New York City and is a second-year Statistics major at UCLA. When she's not looking for article ideas for HC UCLA, she can be found at the beach with a book or finding fun places around LA!
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