Just keep swimming: Review of my freshman experience
What can be said about the first year experience? Perhaps there is little of the topic I can touch upon. I can’t talk about everyone’s experience — only my own. In my experience, it’s been a wild ride to say the least. The transition from high school, to college is significant, especially since I never went to a boarding school and it’s my first time being away from home. I feel as though I have been at Brandeis for both a couple of months and only a couple of days. Each day is busier than the last, making it feel as though I have been here forever, when in reality it’s only been a handful of weeks.
Being from New England, I was able to visit Brandeis a handful of times before and after sending in my application. Multiple students told me the importance of time management skills, but I only fully understood what they meant after my first week of classes.
I believe them now. The work itself, while challenging, doesn’t feel impossible yet, though there is certainly time for it to become so. However, there is an abundance of work. It’s safe to say I have learned a lot about my study habits and the way I work in the past couple of weeks. I have had to adjust the way I go about work in order to complete everything on time and it’s been only a month. Like Dory from “Finding Nemo,” I’ve learned to look at the short-term and take one step at a time. Doing, or even looking at everything at once, is wholly overwhelming. But after rewatching the comforting movie recently, I have decided to be more like Dory; in part to be forgetful of my past mistakes, and also to focus more on the immediate future. I have started developing many strategies to hopefully be successful at Brandeis. I live by my planner now and actually have multiple — both digital and physical; Google Calendar is a life saver.
One of Brandeis’ “stereotypes” is the busy, well-rounded student — a student who is involved in multiple clubs, taking equally challenging classes, doing research, community service, and much more. To those who do fit that description: I have no idea how you do it. It’s equally commendable and terrifying that a person can do all these things simultaneously.
One day I hope to learn their secrets. There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything, yet the days are long, and the weeks are short. Just listening to people list off the activities, academics, and projects they are a part of is jaw-dropping. I sometimes wonder if people even sleep. But somehow, they are able to achieve it all each week.
As every fellow introverted first year does, I struggled to connect with people at first. It really is like starting kindergarten all over again, except we are all adults.
I came from a small town, so I was with the same 160 students from pre-kindergarten to walking across the stage at high school graduation. It reached a point where everyone knew everyone, so it wasn’t difficult to initiate a conversation. College is a whole new gaming field. However, I quickly learned that the best way to connect with others is through struggle — if that makes sense. Most of the people I have met were through trying to find different buildings on campus, needing help understanding the syllabus, mishearing the professor, or perhaps a ton of luck. In fact a majority of my friends now are from my orientation group. It’s both surprising and reassuring that others share my troubles.
In only a few weeks, I have met wonderful, intelligent, and driven people. I have found that Brandeisians are overall very friendly and welcoming, and upper-level students have been extremely helpful to lost first-years. While I was a little unsure the first week, I believe that Brandeis is the place for me now. The campus is beautiful, the academics are challenging, the people are hilarious and intelligent, the clubs are exciting and there is such a diverse selection of them, and the coffee is plentiful, which in my opinion is a crucial thing. Looking forward at the syllabus and schedules is very overwhelming. If I didn’t have strong willpower or self-motivation, I don’t know how I would make it. But I was told recently that Brandeis seems to “attract a certain type of student.”
If you are here, you belong here and are able to complete the challenges both academically and in your personal life that are thrown at you. It’s reassuring to know that it is possible. Every time I’ve reached a new level of education — middle school to high school, high school to college, etc. — each step feels more difficult than the last one.
Still, every time I believe I am unable to take the next step, I surprise myself in the ability to keep standing. And while Brandeis life is busy and never-ending, I feel as though if I follow a familiar little blue fish’s advice, I’ll be fine; I just have to “keep swimming.”