Dear Freshmen

Dear Freshmen,

Isn’t it astonishing that in less than one month you will take your first official step into university life?

It was only several months ago when you threw your graduation cap up into the air after receiving your diploma. High school graduation marked an end to those four years of locker-room chats, winter formals, report cards, homecoming queens and A.P. tests.

Yet leaving high school, for most of you, was bittersweet.  While you may be anticipating attending UC Irvine and savoring your taste of freedom, you come to realize that saying goodbye to those high school friends, teachers and memories is far from easy.

Your friends are going separate directions, whether they enroll in a community college near home or fly across the country to attend an East Coast university. Your favorite teachers from high school will probably continue teaching the anti-war commentary of “Catch-22” in A.P. English or the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry. It could be possible that they might move elsewhere or even change careers.

Recall the great times you had with your friends dancing at senior prom or cheering for your football team at the homecoming game? Those nostalgic memories will stick with you always.

It is true that wonderful and insightful experiences like high school must come to an end. Then again, if these experiences have an end, shouldn’t they have a beginning? Definitely! Exits, in a sense, are also entrances and vice versa.

You depart from your high school past and begin anew once you take your first step onto the university campus. It is a fresh start in this chapter of your life and an opportunity to reinvent yourself.

Although some of you cannot wait to move into your dorm room with your bedding set from Target on one hand and a MacBook on the other, some of you may feel apprehensive and unsure about starting university.

While new beginnings bring excitement and thrill, they also bring uncertainty and fear. You could fear that your roommate could be a psychopath slob or those computer-science classes you enrolled in could be more challenging than you thought.

We are often afraid of what we do not know. It is completely fine and normal to be a little afraid, but do not overwhelm yourself. If you do, you develop this unnecessary paranoia that is not worth thinking about.

Truth be told, there is nothing to worry about. If there is something to worry about, it should be how to handle this new experience.

Once you move into your Mesa Court or Middle Earth dorm and start taking classes, remember that you create your own university experience. It is up to you how you want to spend the next three, four or even five years at UCI.

You could enjoy attending those Native American cultural club meetings or taking an archery class. Or you could have a miserable time slaving away in classes you dislike and spending time with sarcastic “friends.”

You are the one who creates your experiences at university. If you want to change something, do so. If you cannot, learn to adapt and cope with the situation.

It helps to focus on the positive rather than the negative.  Want to switch your major from chemical engineering to German? Go ahead. Love to feel that adrenaline rush on a motorcycle? Join the motorcycle club and pedal to the metal!

Aside from making the most of your university experience, your academics should be on your priority list. I mean, why else are you at UCI? You should concentrate on your studies and devote some time each day doing coursework, whether it would be reading or doing equations.

For some of you guys, your self-discipline will be tested; thus, it would be wise to cultivate your own self-discipline by making a schedule and investing in a good planner.

Yet if you find other creative ways to help focus, go ahead and try them. It may be difficult to be on track at first, but if you keep working you will save yourself from typing away last-minute essays at 3:29 a.m. or reviewing unknown chemical equations five hours before your midterm.

Come on guys, procrastination will never be anyone’s cup of tea or bottle of Coca-Cola … call it what you like.

As a senior English major, I look back at my university years; I must say that I had a blast studying abroad in England, participating in the International club, and attending my English classes with wonderful professors. Freshies, your university experience is waiting. Celebrate the best years of your life by simply doing what you want to do.

Yours truly,

Ashley