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Enemies to Lovers: Why It’s Okay To Initially Be Disappointed By Your Dream College

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

If there is one thing I loved about the UC application process, it’s how easy applying to all of them was. Honestly, if I had to do more than simply check off the ones I was interested in, I wouldn’t have even applied to UCLA. I re-read my acceptance letter and checked that it was actually addressed to me multiple times over several days just to make sure UCLA Admissions hadn’t made a mistake. 

Despite having inherited a predisposition to being overly anxious and hating change, I started college with the delusion that move-in day would mark the start of the best years of my life. Society seems to have collectively agreed to over-romanticize college: TV shows, aesthetic “Day In My Life” university vlogs and Pinterest boards have managed to make even the most unappealing aspects of college seem aesthetically pleasing. If you’re wondering who could be so easily influenced into thinking college is perfect, it’s me. Here are some important realizations and lessons I had to learn: 

Overpacked and Underwhelmed

Just because UCLA was my absolute dream school doesn’t mean it was a breeze to adjust to. Hours of research on college essentials and re-watching dorm tours made me think I was so prepared. I’m here to tell you that no YouTube video can truly prepare you for college. First underwhelming experience? The #1 dining hall’s pizza. I know UCLA students are truly being fed well but within weeks, I craved home-cooked Asian food more than anything. Another mistake I had? Overpacking because I managed to convince myself I needed everything from all the YouTube videos I watched. Did I really need to take six pairs of shoes, three sets of sheets and enough tampons to supply the entire Hill? Probably not. My tip would be to under-pack (there’s never enough space in dorms) and to be ready to be underwhelmed.

Good Friends Take Time

Making friends in kindergarten was too easy. All I had to do was tell my secretary (mom) to set up a play-date with whoever I deemed interesting. Unfortunately, making friends in college has proved to be a difficult and slow process for me. If you’re also independent and introverted, the truth is that it takes a lot of trial and error to find good friends. A tough lesson I had to learn was that most times, you have to be willing to send the first text about grabbing coffee or introducing yourself. 

College Isn’t A Magical Solution

When I grabbed lunch with an old friend during winter break of my freshman year, I immediately noticed how much her style, makeup and music taste had changed. While she seemed more confident and mature, I felt insecure that nothing about me had changed. I wasn’t more stylish, smarter or had crazy stories to tell my hometown friends. The thing is, simply going to college isn’t going to get you closer to the ideal version of yourself. It takes a lot of awkward lunches with a classmate you just met, going to random clubs and figuring out the terribly unreliable public transportation system to feel more at home. 

As annoying as it is, sometimes time is the best (and only) solution. It’s normal to feel disappointed and overwhelmed while transitioning into college. It’s a huge change and for many people, the first time that they’re given full autonomy over nearly all aspects of their life. I promise if you give yourself the time to adjust and try out as many things as possible, college will provide so many opportunities for you to learn more about yourself and pursue the college experience you’ve dreamed of.

Hannah is a third-year student at UCLA, majoring in Psychology. In her free time, she loves going to the beach, grabbing coffee, and painting her nails.