Fear of the Unknown: A First Year’s First Semester

I am a planner by nature. I need to know what is going on, where it’s happening, when it’s happening. The fear of the unknown is not new to me. It followed me throughout my entire college selection process and became a detrimental force in my first semester here at UVM.


The one thing you can truly plan before going to college, though, is what you’re going to major in. I was convinced I had it figured out. In my junior year of high school I took AP Environmental Science. I got a 94 for the year and did well on the final and AP test. I was convinced that Environmental Science would be the right path for me because UVM is a great school to study the environment and there are so many opportunities, and everything seemed to fall into place.


Fast forward to October of my first fall semester: I am so bored and literally just done. I am falling asleep in chemistry and failing math. Collecting data and synthesizing it into an essay had become the most mundane experience of my life (it still is). Everyone around me seemed to love UVM: their major was interesting and engaging, their weekend hikes were beautiful, and their free time was filled with their new best friends. I hated my major at the introductory level and I didn’t have free time. I was angry and sad. I joined clubs, I talked to people and complimented them, I did my work, yet I was still doing horribly in my classes and everyone seemed to have made friends without me.

Because my college experience wasn’t instantly working out for me, I put all of my energy into applying to transfer schools. Nights in the Fireplace Lounge became progressively longer as I spent hours on Niche. I wanted the opposite of Burlington: Florida. I wanted to go back to Connecticut: I started my application to Uconn. All of this energy spent on wishing I was somewhere else didn’t really make me feel at home here, and I wish I didn’t spend my nights that I could have spent broadening my horizons filling out transfer applications when I barely gave UVM a chance.


I ended up here for a reason. Sure, I didn’t plan on coming here, and UVM wasn’t my first choice. I may have made some mistakes, but I stuck it out. Not everything can be impeccably planned; especially college.

I started putting effort into walking downtown on weekday nights and spending time in the cafes doing homework. I started going to club meetings early and talking and laughing with the leaders. Once I stopped rejecting UVM and Burlington as a whole, I began to embrace the diverse and beautiful place we all call home. Sure, I might have had a rough first semester academically, and I may be changing my major, but I can now go home for Christmas break refreshed, stronger and ready to take on next semester. And maybe even a little excited to come back.