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A Freshman’s Reflection on her First Year at University

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

As the semester and the 2023-2024 school year comes to a close, the time for reflection approaches. 

These past two semesters have encompassed my first year at university, and they have both flown by. Days have been filled with classes, homework, driving to and from campus, eating lunch at Panera with friends, going to club meetings in the evenings, joining in on random events throughout the semester, and going to concerts. 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first year at university. For the first time in my life I became completely responsible for my own education and finances, my time is barely dictated by my familial responsibilities anymore. The freedom of those first few Fall semester weeks was intoxicating and a little overwhelming. I had to step up and advocate for myself when needed: with professors, the financial aid office, and the doctor (no more having Mom make appointments for me!). 

As nerve-wracking as that could be, I found that I did have it in me to stand up for myself. I think that’s a quality you don’t know you have until you need it. Sometimes it was about setting boundaries with friends, other times it was being able to go to office hours and talk with my professors about things in class I was struggling with.

I worried a lot at the beginning of the school year about making friends, finding my place in clubs and student organizations, and in general about how well I would fit in on a campus of 55,000 students. Making friends that first semester was easier than I thought; keeping them after Christmas break was harder. Thankfully I was able to involve myself early in some campus clubs and the relationships I’ve built with the like-minded people there have come to flourish this past semester. A lot of different opportunities have arisen through my involvement with those clubs, some of which I’ll be pursuing over the summer and into next semester.

I’ve learned a lot on how to be comfortable spending time with myself and how it’s nearly impossible for me to study with other people. From lots of walks that I’ve taken around campus, I’ve become acutely familiar with which parts of it I like to spend time in. I’ve been to the nearby record and book stores, as well as nearby coffee shops and boba stores. I found amazing support within the Catholic student group on campus, and their off-campus chapel has become  a favorite haunt of mine. 

In December I won an award for a research paper I wrote, and in January I presented it at my first undergraduate research conference. This semester I’m wrapping up another research project, which allowed me to conduct my first official interview.  As a class project, I’m currently working on a play which I hope to perform in with my classmates at the end of the semester. 

This past year has been full of joy and laughter, stress and tears. All of it has been completely worth it through and through. It’s hard to believe the year is almost over. I feel like I have changed so much, and yet so little. I’m the same person, just a year older with another year’s worth of experience. For these last two weeks of classes I’m going to take it all in as much as I can, and savor the memories from my freshman year of university. 

Currently pursuing her B.A. at the University of South Florida, Samantha is a budding ethnographist, writer, and philosopher. She can most commonly be found reading between library shelves, writing poetry in her room, or playing guitar.