Going into the college process, I was set on going out of state. It sounded so exciting, a completely fresh start. Then, I saw the price tag and thought about the uncertainty of going far away with COVID and reconsidered my perspective. Now, I go to my state school (one of the best public universities at that) an hour from home. Not to mention, I'm interested in the business world and the business school, McIntire, does have a great program. Looking back, though, I’m so glad I chose UVA. It's been the perfect balance of working hard and having a robust social life. Rather than feeling like I’m too close to home, I really appreciate being able to come home so easily and not having to miss out on celebrating festivals with friends and family. I thought I wanted a completely fresh start, but it’s been so comforting having high school friends at college and meeting other kids from Richmond has actually been a lot of fun. Plus, despite knowing people already, with such a large school, it still felt like a fresh start. I didn’t fully believe it when people told me that you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be, but trusting the process really has been the best decision.
After a senior year full of social distancing and cancelled events, I was so excited for what appeared to be a mostly normal first semester of college. As I began to reflect, I realized that I came into college with no expectations. After what COVID had done to the 2nd half of my junior year as well as my senior year of high school, I knew that anything really is possible. Still, I was hoping that UVA’s 98% vaccination rate would keep us in person and I’m so glad it did.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t homesick when I first arrived, although being only an hour from home kept that concern largely out of my mind. I soon met the person I would be living with for the next year and thankfully, we got along great. Little did we know that we would go from having surface level conversations about our potential majors and favorite hobbies to having the same Tik-Tok feed and making fun of each other. As an only child, I was initially nervous about learning to share a room with someone, but, honestly, the company is so nice and I wouldn’t trade those late night conversations for the world.
After saying goodbye to our parents, we set out to explore. UVA really went all out for orientation week, that’s for sure. We made name signs for our door, got mini succulents, and got lots of free food and t-shirts. I’m pretty sure I got at least 4 free t-shirts and ate more than $20 worth of free Insomnia cookies just in that first week lol. We also had a welcome concert where Jack Harlow performed. I didn’t exactly know who Jack Harlow was before I heard he was performing (embarrassing to be honest), but it was nice to see an in person performance after COVID and just be in such a lively atmosphere. The whole week felt like big kid summer camp and I was here for it. Looking back, there were so many people I met in those first few days that I’ve never seen again and coming from such a small high school, that was such a strange experience.
At the club fair that week, I was glad to find a dance club where I could keep performing in a low stress environment. I’m surprised I never realized this, but students actually choreograph the pieces and then other students could audition for whichever pieces they wanted to be in for the fall showcase. Since I had never choreographed before, I figured it would be a good stepping stone to try and choreograph on myself first this semester. It was a lot of fun and hopefully I'll be able to choreograph a group sometime in the future.
Then, classes started and I actually had to use my desk that had hardly been touched. Even after carefully reading reviews on Ratemyprofessor, I was still blown away by how hard college classes really were. I'm not the greatest test taker, so when I heard that my ECON final was going to be worth 50% of my grade, I almost had a heart attack. Still, I’ve realized that college is a huge change academically, socially, and emotionally and the best thing to do was to try my best and get used to a lot more failure lol.
Most of all though, there’s something so special about living with friends: grabbing lunch on a random Tuesday, hanging out till 3 am with no curfew, and spontaneous Insomnia cookie runs. There are so many carefree, random moments which have become some of my favorite memories.
One night, towards the beginning of the year, my friend and I got cookies one Thursday night, sat on the steps of the Rotunda, and just talked for hours. There was something so incredibly peaceful about the moment with a sky full of stars above and the lawn right in front of us, one of my favorite memories for sure.
It’s been such a fun semester, full of growth, challenges, and of course, lots of fun. I can’t wait to see what second semester brings :)