The first year of college is exactly how people described it to be. I spent the first couple weeks, probably even months, figuring out my space on campus, and I spent the last couple weeks of my first year drenched in anxiety, craziness, and laughter as I prepared for finals. The biggest change I experienced during my first year of college is being forced to grow up and become independent. I learned that being independent is more than having the ability feed myself and wake myself up for a class; it is also being able to mentally be in the right space.
2,636 miles is a long way from home, and being shy doesn’t help. I was already one of the lucky ones who had a relatively easy transition going into college because I didn’t grow up surrounded by eyes watching me. I had strong support systems at home that I knew were always rooting for me no matter what. This propelled me through my first semester as I joined all the extracurriculars that interested me and tried all the flavors of Baltimore. I joined Inter-Asian Council, Homecoming Reunion Ambassadors, Wind Ensemble, volunteered at the hospital, worked part-time, and tried new restaurants every weekend. College seemed like the perfect place to allow myself to develop myself into the person I want to become.
I lost sight of this during my second semester when negative thoughts creeped in. My old circles of support seemed to be worlds away and Baltimore didn’t feel like home. I ended up comparing myself to other people in an unhealthy way and I kept worrying whether or not I was making the most out of my college experience. With all these comparisons in my head, I ended up lonely and homesick.
There wasn’t a profound and deep moment where everything changed and the loneliness went away. I was simply thinking one night and somehow things fell into place. I realized that I was still successful because I was trying my best even if the person next to me seemed to have more fun and had better grades. Many adults have their own space and are okay with not being constantly surrounded by their loved ones. I now strive to create a better mentality and to appreciate everything and everyone that I have.
Becoming independent might possibly entail being physically alone, but that doesn’t mean that you are alone. You are going to meet a lot of people in college, some will be permanent while others won’t. Experiencing loneliness and uncertainty is an obstacle everyone faces at some point in order grow up. College is a journey that passes in a blink of an eye, so make the most of the experience. Don’t compare yourself to others and create a healthy and successful you.
Julia graduated from Blair High School (go Vikings!) in 2016 with an International Baccalaureate Diploma and is now attending her dream school, Johns Hopkins University (go Hop!). She is majoring in behavioral biology and will hopefully double major in bioethics and visual art. Aside from her academics, Julia is in the wind ensemble at JHU, conducts research, and participates in various clubs. After getting her Bachelor’s, Julia hopes to attend medical school. She was first introduced to CAP through SAT workshops, and CAP has helped her ever since with college applications, resumes, and more.