The Transfer Diaries: What I've Learned In My First Few Weeks At UCLA

We can all agree we have some fond memories of every first day of school. From elementary to high school, we've felt excitement, the rush and the sleepless nights wondering how the day will turn out. I’m pretty sure us undergrads know that first day jitters became week one jitters. As a new junior transfer student, I made it a goal of mine to make the most out of this season of my life. Transferring from a small community college and being in the comforts of home and the semester system, I knew I had to prepare myself for what I’d face at a much bigger and diverse school like UCLA.  zoom chatroom discussion with loneliness Photo by Marvin Araiza I recall the excitement I felt letting my family know how busy I would be during the following weeks now that I had classes to attend, homework to do and people to meet. I was even more ecstatic about all the club meetings I had planned to go to; I imagined all the people I’d become acquainted with, in the hopes of becoming good friends. I had constructed so many scenarios of what could be, only to be hit by the tough reality of being a transfer student. 

Before the school year started, I had heard several former transfers talk about the difficulties of creating connections and relationships because most students already have their established group of friends in freshman year. Since I am from a small town, where everyone befriends one another instantly, I took this lightly and believed that I'd be capable of making friends the moment I’d log into the class Zoom meeting. Little did I know Zoom would pull a UNO reverse card on me. All that I’d experience would be awkward introductions in class and silent breakout room sessions, while deep inside, I hoped someone would initiate a conversation with me (any introverts in the house?).

So, remember I said I was excited about club meetings? I had a great time getting to know about all the intriguing and amazing clubs that UCLA has to offer and the incredible students who are part of them. However, during social activities, I felt out of place. Most of the members of these clubs were returners and they all had their little fun inside jokes and memories together. There were many times I zoned out, tuning their voices out of my head and asking myself: what am I doing here? The only thought ringing in my head was: you’ll never fit in. Loneliness consumed me and for a good moment, I allowed it to embrace me. I know it is not healthy for me to wallow in this emotion; I am really making an effort to come out of my shell and connect with others. It’s all about time and understanding that things don’t always happen at the exact moment we want. In its due time, the right people will come along and those friendships will be meaningful and well worth the wait. girl laying in bed feeling stressed out Photo by Kinga Cichewicz from Unsplash Can you hear me deep sighing right now? Yes, the quarter system is a transfer student’s most notable enemy. Since before I transferred to UCLA, my friends from other UC’s would warn me about the stress and pace of the dreaded 10-week system. On the first day, things did not seem so bad until I realized my three class syllabi would become my one and only true friend to help me push through the week. If you are a north campus major, it is possible you are constantly busy with readings, reading and more readings. It is not when you have so much to complete that you realize how time really flies by.

My top tip is to not procrastinate - though I am a very great procrastinator myself. Stress seems to be a motivator, and I feel a rush of adrenaline to get things done. However, I have been working hard on getting into the rhythm of this fast-paced quarter. I have been fighting my body against its desire to sleep in on recorded class days. I usually take that time to read what is assigned for the week or work on discussion papers.  The amount of work collides with the number of extracurriculars that you decide to do, so please be careful not to overwhelm yourself. I am gradually in the process of accepting that I can’t do everything I want to all at once. It is one step at a time. I have to constantly remind myself that through these two years, I can work on achieving the many goals I have for myself. It is more important to have time to take a break and relax than drowning in a sea of responsibilities you can’t keep up with. girl looking towards the horizon Photo by Artem Kovalev from Unsplash

Since the start of quarantine, I had been hopeful that by now, the world would be in a much better state than where it has been. I feel so deeply for all transfer and freshman students. Our dreams and plans are up in the air knowing the future is uncertain. It’s so hard to accept the things we cannot change when all our lives we have been working towards our goals. We've been stopped by situations we can’t even control. I remember my mom clearly telling me, “no matter what happens in this school year, I hope you make the most of it.” She said it with so much hope, understanding the disappointment I have felt these past few months of quarantine life. Her words kept ringing in my head as I fought with the feeling of insufficiency that was fogging her words of affirmation. 

She was right, I had to find goodness in even the hardest moments in life- the moments that we hoped would never happen.  I need to count my blessings. I am at home with my family, we are all safe and healthy and I am able to attend such a great university. I need to take it day by day and appreciate everything I have. If you are feeling just like I am these days, I encourage you to write down the things you are grateful for. I know how difficult it can be to just write something down. Why not start with your life? You are living and breathing, you are able to live this life and fulfill your purpose. This is not a call to conform to our current situation, but it will humble us and help us make the most of what we have at this moment. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, my sweet friend. Let’s embrace this season of life together- are you with me?