I should really be writing my Forum paper right now, but eh, procrastination is not something that left me from high school into college.
Wow, college was not really what I was expecting it to be. I feel like I’m at the point where I can say that, but can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that is so different from what my expectations and assumptions were. So, I’m sorry about that in advance.
But let’s talk about the amazingness that was my first semester at college.
So, as most of my readers may know, I was… less-than-uber-thrilled about coming to Rutgers.
Clearly, I was mistaken.
But also something (for you, as the reader) to consider, is that I think half of me not wanting to come to Rutgers was because of seeing all of my friends going to different places, “better” places, far-away places, and I was jealous and/or surrounded by the stress of college admissions (my, what a toxic time of my life that was). After you actually get to college, you’re only surrounded by those who are going to the same university as you, so you don’t have time to feel like you don’t belong or that you should be somewhere else. In my opinion, I would have probably been happy wherever I ended up (I’m just that type of person) so keep that in mind while reading the rest of this.
But now that that’s out of the way… wow. I love college so much more than I would have thought I would. Like wow, it is so much better than the toxic environment my high school was. Exponentially so. Let’s talk about what made my first semester at the Honors College at RU absolutely magnificent.
1. The Honors College
Now, I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Rutgers nearly as much as if I hadn’t been in the HC. It is a total game changer. (Of course, necessary disclaimer: that’s not to say that if you aren’t in the HC you won’t enjoy college, this is just me and my first semester.)
While not paying for school certainly helps that happiness meter, just having this “small” community of 500 kids who can meme as hard as anyone else both on the GroupMe and through artistic visualizations of post-its on our windows makes a huge difference in my quality of life and my ability to feel like I belong in such a large school. Plus, being in an environment like the HC made it easier to get into a routine and easier to talk to the people around me.
2. THE LAB!
Talk about the sole reason for my existence. I spend 24/7 in the lab. (That is, mentally, I am always there, even though I am only physically there 15-20 hours a week.) I have found a purpose and a passion in my research, and now, lab=life. I can’t even put it into words how much I love being at the lab. (For those of you who don’t know, this is the same lab I was matched with through a summer program in high school and have been at for the last two summers and this last semester.) I’ve gained so much responsibility over this year-and-a-half or so, and I finally feel like I belong somewhere. I even got to present my research in the fall and I was second-author on a nationally published abstract!!! I’ve found what I want to do with the rest of my life and being able to spend most of my time in a place where I have a family of people to lean on and laugh with and a place where I find such happiness made my semester so much better. I just… it makes me really happy. Being able to stay in this lab from high school to now and hopefully until I graduate was one of the main reasons I came to Rutgers and damn that was a good reason. I can’t wait to start doing my own independent research and planning my own experiments and writing my own papers and aghhhh everything, I love it. (I’m sure I’ll eventually write something about my love for lab and how I am 100% MD/PhD committed after this semester, but for now, I’ll stop gushing about my favorite place.)
Who would’ve thought that I would have started fencing in college again? I absolutely love it. I spend an inordinate amount of time fencing given that it’s only a club team (but we compete against all the legit varsity teams!) but it’s the best 7 hours of my week (besides lab, of course). The team is such a family and I love our inside jokes and the fun we make of each other and the rides we take together. There’s such diversity in the people that are on the team and it feels like a breath of fresh air every time I go to practice. Plus now I wear my “R Fencing” warm-up jacket everywhere and am one of those annoying people that tries to recruit you to their sports team. Highly recommend organized sports in college. (Join RU Fencing!)
4. My Friends!
I guess this one can go higher, considering some of my friends are from lab and fencing (but those are more like little families), but nevertheless here it is. And as cliche as it sounds, I’ve made such greats friends at the HC and beyond. I love our casual movie nights, going to football games, bonding over our love for the lab, and just eating and walking to class together. And who could forget about going on a 10-day fully paid literal vacation to NYC over winter break with my friends? College is really all about the friends you make and the experiences you have together.
5. My Mentors!
Shout out to my HC Mentor-in-Residence, my HC Ally, my HC Research Pod Mentor, my Douglass Voorhees mentor, my CBN Society mentor, and my HC RA!
(And those are only my formal mentors!)
They were such incredible resources in my first semester (and still are!) and made it so much easier and more fun than it would have been without all of them. Never underestimate the value of a strong peer mentor and the information they can give you. They’ve taken me through the ins and outs of the HC and of Rutgers and have made it that much easier to integrate myself into a routine.
6. My Classes?
To be completely honest, the classes were the most “eh” part of my last semester. I only took 15 credits, two of which were research, and all of my classes were ridiculously easy and not particularly interesting (except my Douglass class, that was at least marginally fun). I felt like I was just going through the motions with those classes (I gave up on even going to chem after 4 weeks), and that I wasn’t really learning anything important (which I guess I wasn’t, considering they were all intro level pre-requisite classes). This semester, my classes are more interesting, but still nowhere near the top of the list of “Reasons Why I Love College”. But I guess, learning, schmlearning and all that good stuff. (I’m kidding, I swear, learning is fun, it’s just that everything else is more fun.)
Well, that probably helped all of no one, but I just really wanted to put it out there that I had a great first semester. :) I’ll start writing actual stuff soon, I promise, maybe.
And as always, thanks for reading!