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Caitlin Antonios: What were your expectations of UCI before coming here, and what was the reality?

Ashley Duong: I kind of didn’t have the greatest experience at SPOP, so I kind of left SPOP thinking that, goddamit, I’m gonna have the worst four years of my life here. This is not going to be fun. That is not a comment on SPOP — that was a good program, I’m sure — it just wasn’t for me.

CA: I kind of had a bad experience, too.

AD: OK, so I was kind of dreading it. Before then, I didn’t really have any expectations of UCI. Like, SPOP was my first impression. I was hoping to have a really enjoyable time at SPOP, and that didn’t happen, so I was a little let down and really worried. But having been here, and being a part of the New U and all these other things, I’m having the time of my life. This is way beyond what I thought I would be doing. I think UCI has provided me a lot of opportunities.

Marvin Luu: I actually had a great SPOP! They [SPOPers] made it clear really early on that the resources were out there and that we had to reach out ourselves, and the fact that the college experience is really what you make out of it yourself. I think they were saying that any given campus has resources and everything, and it’s really catered to your interest. I knew heading into college that I would have to be the one determining what I wanted to do and that our own experiences are dictated by what we decide to do. I think SPOP helped me make the push to try out more things.

Nicole Block: I think my SPOP was really fun too. I got a really big sense of community. Our hall was really tight and fun. I expected more of that, but it gets harder when the school year starts and your dorm isn’t quite that small and that connected anymore. I was a little disappointed to not have that. But it was a good first impression, and you can still find a community like that in your clubs and in your housing choices later.

CA: Jessica, what was your first impression, because you didn’t have SPOP?

Jessica Resendez: I didn’t have SPOP, and when I think about it — I transferred from community college, and I remember going through the booths of the different colleges and trying to figure out which one would be the perfect match for me, but UCI wasn’t there. It was the one I really wanted to check out! I remember asking people if they were coming and they were like “I don’t even think they’re even gonna come.” And all the other UCs were represented except for UCI. So it was one of those things where I had to go investigate UCI myself, and when I came here, I felt like the park was the first thing that hit me. I was like, yeah, this my vibe. I had to choose between UCI and UCSD. I got acceptance letters from both schools, and I toured UCSD and I did their orientation. It didn’t hit me like it hit me here. But I didn’t take a tour here, I took myself on a tour. I didn’t like UCSD for some reason, it was concrete, drab, it wasn’t green with trees or birds or anything.

CA: So what sold you on UCI? What was the thing that you heard or saw or did before SPOP that got you?

NB: I thought I was gonna be at the beach all the time, like, “Wow, it’s so close.” I live kind of in the area, and on the way to the beach we’d pass UCI and I was always like, “It’s so close.” But I only went to the beach once or twice freshman year on the bus that takes so long, and now the bus doesn’t even run, so I was so disappointed. But now I live on the beach, so it’s OK. Worth it.

AD: I’m from northern California, so moving to southern California was a nice change of pace. UCI was one of the only UCs with a journalism program, so that’s definitely what sold me. It had a major I was really interested in.

JR: Yeah, I agree. That’s my reason, too. Out of all the UCs, they had a journalism program which I wanted, and obviously the park helped. And, I don’t know, Peter the Anteater, I guess?

AD: Also, I feel like proximity to LA. Thinking about internship opportunities and stuff, LA is a hub for that, and Irvine’s relatively close. Coming to Irvine, I recognized there were lots of opportunities also.

ML: Same thing. I thought that it was unique that Irvine was offering a really unique journalism program. I was looking at USC, but I was like, gosh, probably not gonna get into there. So I was like, yeah, UCI is probably the best choice in terms of what I wanted to do with my career.

CA: Was there anything specific you thought you’d do or be or get involved with that you didn’t?

ML: I think when you do start off like what Nicole was saying, there is a really big emphasis on community. Especially that first freshman year is the best year because you get to meet a lot of people and you don’t realize that, as the years go by, that sort of community breaks. You have to find your own group and make an effort yourself to seek out your communities. I think that’s the biggest drop off between freshman and sophomore year.

JR: I don’t know. When I started off, it was different for me, because I was an older transfer student. Yeah, joining clubs and stuff was important to me and I went to a few, what do you call those? Not frats, but the other one…

CA: Sororities?

JR: Yeah! And I couldn’t. I just didn’t. I thought I’d be joining them but I realized, no, that’s not right for me. I found the newspaper and was like yeah, this is more my tempo. I was older and didn’t have time for all the girly movie nights, “let’s have pajama night” stuff or whatever. So I think I came in with expectations of being young again but realizing my own tempo and finding my own community here that didn’t have to reflect being freshman-oriented.

AD: I don’t think I had any expectation coming in, but I do remember thinking taking the school tour, “Yeah, I’m totally gonna do this, I’m gonna become a tour guide” and becoming super UCI patriotic, and now I don’t wanna do that at all. Like, I see it all the time with middle schoolers, and I’m like “nope.” I think that’s one thing I thought I’m gonna do but ended up not. Following up on the community thing, it took me a little while longer my first year to find that sense of belonging at UCI and, retrospectively, I realized that I didn’t utilize my first year opportunities as well as I could have. I still think that I found great people to be around and great organizations to be a part of.

C: I’m kind of the opposite. I had zero school spirit in high school, and I thought in college I’d be the same, I wouldn’t care. But now, I’m kind of obsessed with UCI. Like, anything in the news that I see with UCI, I’m so excited about and I feel I have so much school spirit now, which I never had in high school. I don’t know why that change happened, it just did.

NB: I get that too, even though we don’t have sports teams to make us super patriotic. We have some, but — sorry sports — but it’s not a big, well-attended event. I went to a couple games my freshman year, but it’s not that kind of college experience of sports. But, you know, I’m still proud of my school. I love UCI. And Peter the Anteater.

CA: Yeah, I think that’s the thing about UCI. It’s not sports that brings people together, it’s other —

NB: Academics, gaming.

CA: It’s diversity. And there’s so many things other than sports that brings us together in a cool kind of interesting way.

NB: Whenever we have some cool new research breakthrough on the news, I love it. I’m like “Yes, that egg, man!” That “unboiling the egg” guy! Thank you! That’s what I’m talking about.

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