Going to a new school is a bit challenging for everyone. But, having to go to a new school AND live independently is harder than it sounds. Being independent means not having someone to wash your laundry, make you dinner when you are hungry, advise you to get off of your phone so you could focus on homework, or the very worst to give up, make you chicken soup or take care of you when you are sick. Living on your own can also be a bit lonely at times, especially when you have a tight-knit family at home, but below are a few things that have helped me!
Keep in touch with family and friends
I do not go home that often since there are events such as basketball and volleyball games on campus, but also because I know if I go home, I will most likely not be focused on completing my homework. Because it is convenient to be living so close to home, I like to go home once a month. I have three siblings whom I am very close to and a cousin who just had a baby, so being away from home means missing out on my little nephew growing up extremely fast and missing out on family member’s birthdays. However, this is easier with the different forms of communication that we have nowadays. Although I do not go home that often, I am able to FaceTime my siblings and catch up with them to see what I have missed out on and to see my father in action cooking up food that I can see but not taste.
I also stay in communication with my friends through snapchat, FaceTime, and group messages. When I went home during the winter break, I was able to hang out with my friends and share stories about our experiences in college. I am also able to hang out and have lunch with my high school friends who attend UCLA.
Find a school family
It was a bit difficult at first getting used to not living with my family, but by joining different clubs and hanging out with my new friends, time has passed way faster. Having a close bond with my roommate has also been helpful because she makes me feel like I am at home. I am very close to my roommate because we went to high school together, so we have known each other for quite a while now. We both attended different summer programs at UCLA, so we made friends throughout that time. Her friends are my friends, and my friends are her friends. That is literally how making friends happens in college. We also have friends that live on the same floor as us in our building. Our group of friends ranges from locals to our neighbor who comes from New Jersey.
I was interested in playing a sport at UCLA whether it was club or intramural. During the zero week club fair, I looked around at options that appealed to me, and I found the club softball table. I was able to try out with one of my friends who I went to softball camp with, and we both made it onto the club softball team, which is like our home away from home. I have been playing softball since I was young, so being out on the field with girls who love the sport as much as I do feels like my safe haven. Playing softball has allowed me to learn time management skills and responsibility, especially since there were dues that had to be paid in order to play. I had to work out my schedule in order to make it to practice on time. I now practice two times a week, have conditioning once a week, and play games against other schools on weekends.
I also have a job on campus. I was able to get a job at the dining hall because of a friend from summer program at UCLA. She was already working there, and she put in a good word for me with her boss, since he was looking to hire new workers. When I met with my boss for the first time, he asked me questions about my experience working, and then asked to look at my résumé and my schedule to see the times that I would be able to work during the week. Now, I get to live close to work, get free food, and have coworkers who remind me of my family, which also makes me feel more at home.
Marisol is a first generation college student who graduated from Blair High School June 2016. She is currently a freshman at UCLA majoring in sociology with minors in education and Chicano/Chicana studies. When she is older, she plans to pursue a career in education as a high school principal. Marisol learned that the steps to attending college can be rigorous and challenging, but with hard work, help from others, and dedication, anything is possible.