College Diaries | First Year Reflection

Hi all! By the time this post goes live on Friday, I will have officially completed my freshman year of college at Oregon State University! Two weeks ago, I was seeing my “on this day” rewinds of my high school graduation on Facebook—–what even!!

As you can probably guess, freshman year has been a wild ride. New state, new environment, new routines, new friends, new experiences. In this post, I want to walk you through the good and the bad, and try as hard as I can to recap what these last 10 months have been like for me. If you’re up for the journey, let’s continue!

September 12th, 2018: Move-in Day

On this day, I moved into my dorm room. I was a week early because I am in a program my college has that required a week-long “intro” to campus life. I had just endured the 15 hour drive up from my hometown in California, and began moving into room 610 of Callahan Hall. (Click here for my dorm tour blog post!)

At this time, I was feeling all kinds of emotions: excited & relieved to have made it (I was worried for a sec there,) yet so incredibly apprehensive about such a big change. I said bye to my mom and dad that morning and laid in my new bed that night wondering what the hell I was in for.

September 20th, 2018: Fall Term Begins

I mentioned in my first term of college reflection post that this day was happy, smiley #firstdayofcollege! On the outside, but OH MY GOD WHERE AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING on the inside.

Fall term classes:

  • College Algebra (MTH 111)

  • Interpersonal Communications (COMM 218)

  • Lifetime Fitness for Health (HHS 231)

  • Ethics (PH 205)

September-November notable moments:

Along with finishing the online portion of my math class (which most people don’t do since it’s not required to finish it 100%,) I also stayed on campus for Thanksgiving break in November and it was DEAD QUIET on my floor. I didn’t mind though; I made popcorn, watched Every Day on DVD, and enjoyed a few days off!

Now for the not-so-fun reality: there aren’t many notable moments for this time of my freshman year because if I’m being honest, I was still really emotional from all the changes happening and was struggling to cope. I felt out of place, uncertain of if I was making the right choices, and just overall emotionally turbulent. There were MULTIPLE instances of me laying in bed at night and wondering if I should high-tail it home and admit that I couldn’t do this before it was too late and my family was too financially invested. That’s the honest reality of what freshman year could feel like as an out-of-state student (at least the first few months, anyway).

December 8th, 2018-January 7th 2019:

Winter Break

Winter break felt like it went by all too fast, but it was the rest I direly needed. It felt so nice to be at home with familiar people and be in familiar places after feeling uprooted for the last 3 months. I spent a lot of time just playing Sims, finishing my Goodreads challenge, and enjoying being at home.

Not-so-fun part: I had to re-home my guinea pigs Milkshake & Mia over the break ):

They weren’t getting proper care when I left them at home and I knew that it, in the long run, it was impractical for my family if they stuck around. Although I practically raised them both (since 2011 and 2012), it was time for a new fur-ever home. They went to a nice family with a 6-year-old girl and my hopes is that they are being taken care of. They’ll forever be my M&Ms.

January 8th 2019: Winter Term Begins

After winter break was over and I was back in Corvallis, I remember something feeling different. The frequent emotional turbulence, slowly but surely, began to be not so frequent. I dove into my very hectic schedule, and started to feel more comfortable.

Winter term classes:

  • Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing (WR 240)

  • General Chemistry (CH121)

  • Elementary Functions (college trig/precalc, MTH 112)

  • Comparative Cultures (ANTH 210)

I LOVED my CNF writing class! My professor was amazing and I really hope to take another creative writing class because of her :’)

Comparative cultures was nice too—it heavily centered around group work which made the exams easy, and my professor was a young graduate student with a 4 year-old toddler who visited us a couple times!

Math went okay, although it didn’t go as well as it did fall term which I was slightly disappointed about. I think out of all math I am best at trigonometry, but the precalculus stuff in the second half of the term threw me for a loop.

Not-so-fun part: Chemistry. If you are in any way associated with me personally, you already know the spiel I have about this class. If you aren’t, the tl;dr is: chemistry was the w o r s tclass I have ever taken in my academic career. I’ve said this so many times I’m sick of saying it. I had SO much trouble in that class.

BUT, there IS a silver lining: towards the end of that class, I was sitting at an 80% and I still had one more midterm and the final to go. I remember basically crying to my academic counselor that I wasn’t sure if I’d pass when it was all said and done. But get this: YA GIRL, LAST MINUTE, PULLED AN A ON BOTH THE MIDTERM AND THE FINAL! I finished the class with an A-. Literally a 90%. I celebrated SO. HARD.

If chemistry has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me that A) I never want to be a chemistry major/minor/anything w h a t s o e v e r, but B) it taught me that perseverance and dedication really does pay off if you want something bad enough.

Winter term notable moments in photos:

As I said, winter term was the start of me growing into this whole “being on my own” thing. I took my first ever day trip with my close friends to the beach and (inadvertently) to The Devil’s Punch Bowl! We piled into a car on an early Sunday afternoon and drove down the coast. I remember feeling anxious because I had a final that following Tuesday that I felt like I should’ve been studying for, but for the first time, I set that worry aside and decided to live a little. Thrilled to be out of the dorm and off-campus, I enjoyed time with my friends and made a memory. I also realized how fun day/weekend trips were, and if only I knew another, even better one would soon follow.

March 23rd-31st, 2019: Spring Break

Sometime during late winter term, I came across a flyer on a bulletin board for something known as Altbreak. Curious, I stood there (probably blocking somebody’s path,) and read the flier, realizing that this was something I was interested in. Alas, my eyes reached the bottom of the flier and realized the deadline was literally the next day. I shrugged it off and temporarily convinced myself that there was no way I could put together a convincing application in one day.

But as you can probably guess, that’s not the end of this story.

Instead of saying that there was no way, I sat in my room later that evening and thought deeply about it. The trip would only be $100, there’s no letter of rec requirement, and the essays weren’t even that long. So ultimately, I told myself I’d just do it and see what happens. What ended up happening is that the trip I wanted filled up and I was put on a waiting list.

Again, convincing myself that there was no way it would happen, I booked a flight home for spring break. But again, I wouldn’t be writing about this if that was the end.

I ended up getting an email about two weeks away from the end of winter term/beginning of Altbreak that a spot had opened up and they were wondering if I was still interested.

Needless to say at this point, I said yes! I spent my spring break in Ashland, Oregon doing environmental restoration service projects and learning about environmental justice. My altbreak group, thank you so much for being such incredible people and making that trip so awesome. I did a whole blog post on My Altbreak Experience, as well as a Video Diary on YouTube if you’d like to see what we were up to!

April 1st, 2019: Spring Term Begins

By the beginning of the last term of my freshman year, I had officially conquered my existential crisis about growing up. In fact, I began embracing it. This last term has proven to be quite the finale to freshman year, and there’s a lot to talk about.

Spring term classes:

  • General Chemistry (CH 122)

  • Pollinators in Peril (1st online class! — ENT 331)

  • Multicultural Perspectives in Natural Resources (FW 340)

  • Introduction to Marine Biology (BI 150)

First thing’s first: I left the state for the weekend of week one. In early March, my long-distance boyfriend jokingly mentioned how cool it would be if I were to come to his prom which, at the time, was about a month away. We laughed about it that night, thinking how crazy it’d be if that were to actually happen…

…I think you can you guess what came next.

I flew 1,500 miles for the weekend to be in Nebraska to attend my boyfriend’s junior prom.If that wasn’t the best way to start spring term, I don’t know what is. It felt so!! weird!! to be getting on a plane and LEAVING THE STATE BY MYSELF to go visit my BOYFRIEND. There wasn’t even a parent to drop me off at the airport—-I took a shuttle at 4:15 in the morning to the airport! Wild times. Most definitely one for the books.

Oh, but that wasn’t the end.

As soon as I got back from Nebraska for the start of week 2, my friends decided that it was time for another day trip. But this time, a weekend trip, and not just to the beach, but to Seattle, Washington.

That’s right: I was back in Corvallis for a whole week before I was off on yet ANOTHER weekend trip out of the state. If you can’t tell by now, I wasn’t kidding when I said I began embracing growing up and being on my own.

The Seattle trip made me feel so alive. And here’s another harsh, impromptu honest truth: it’s easy to forget what feeling alive actually feels like in college. Don’t get me wrong, college is NOT 24/7 misery. Just like any other time in your life, you have good days and bad days. But what I’ve noticed throughout the last 10 months is that it is so easy to only remember the bad days and make yourself feel 100x worse. Don’t. Do. That.

Taking this trip, being in yet another brand new place, and being with my friends. Staying in an AirBNB for the first time, going up the Space Needle for the first time, going to Pike Place and having the most amazing vegan cinnamon roll for the first time—-I just can’t do it all justice. All I can say is thank you to my friends for creating this moment in my life to forever look back and smile on. (Also: thank you for the Beyonce sing-along on the way there and the emo renaissance on the way back. 10/10, would do again).

WOOOOW it’s taken me about 3 and a half hours to write this entire post and gather all of the pictures and videos! But now it’s done and I have successfully recapped the last ten months of my life. I’m thinking about doing a comprehensive what I learned in my first year of college blog post later this month, so let me know if you’d be interested in reading that! Besides that, thank you all if you made it to the end of this (very) long blog post, and I promise my post for Sunday will be (much) shorter. Until then!

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