A Reflection of College so Far- as Told by a Latina

I’ve lived in Washington my entire life and as the daughter of Mexican Immigrants, it was a given I was going to college. While in elementary and in junior high school, my career plans were all over the place, but I admired my fourth grade teacher as she was so in love with her job and prided herself on being an alumnus from her university, that I wanted to be just like her. And so, fourth grade me began fantasizing about a future in which I too would attend the University of Washington.

As I got older, I realized that 9-year-old me was not aware of acceptance rates or tuition costs or how real life works in general, not that I have ANY idea how life works 9 years later either honestly. I mean I had good grades, but I didn’t have a 4.0 and I didn’t really do any extracurriculars in high school as I had a part-time job. My parents had been very honest with my older sister and I, so I knew that college was something I would have to responsible for paying. I began saving (saving being a loose term as I quickly discovered just how horrible I am at that and how expensive I am in general) and realized there was probably no way my job at a pizza place could afford to pay the estimated $28,732, it would cost to attend on the off chance I would be admitted. Nonetheless, I was accepted into the university and was fortunate enough to receive a lot of grants and scholarships that enabled me to attend.

In coming to college, I can’t say I’m completely happy but I’m also not unhappy. Seattle is a huge change from the city of Puyallup, a whooping 683,744 population difference according to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau. Before coming to UW, I thought it would be easy to find community as they had advertised so many RSO’s and opportunities and while I’m not saying there isn’t, they’re not all exactly as publicized as they make it out to be. UW prides itself on its diversity and I was presented with a narrative that there were plenty of representation and organizations for students of any background. Which was an exciting contrast in comparison to my predominantly white high school. While UW is more diverse than my high school and home city, I can’t say I wasn’t let down by their presentation of diversity before attending vs. now.

A school that was fairly competitive to get into has proven to be decently competitive to stay at as many of the popular majors (both non-STEM and STEM) are capacity constrained. While I have yet to apply to my major, I have different back up plans in case I don’t get accepted. But, it might mean staying here longer than the 3 years I anticipated which my mom would not be pleased with and we all know we can’t piss off our moms, especially if she’s Hispanic.

While my first quarter at UW wasn’t the best and I’m still struggling to find my place in such a big university, I’m hopeful for the rest of winter quarter. I have made friends besides my roommates (about damn time)  and have started keeping my eyes open for clubs and events that will help me feel connected to my culture in a place that doesn’t quite feel like home yet. School is hard and honestly nothing could’ve prepared for the shock that was transitioning to a university but, we’re slowly getting there.