Notes from college: Life in the fast (bike) lane
I had a staring contest with a squirrel this morning. The ubiquity of these tree-climbing rodents is one of the many reminders that I’m now living in Davis, biking capital of the world, instead of my hometown Sonoma. I wasn’t expecting Davis to be so different, but it really is.
My freshman year, I lived in the international relations dorm, so I met a lot of people interested in world politics and culture, including international students. I was surprised and fascinated by the range of experiences they had, including the many students who grew up in California. Hearing about their experiences from their cities and school districts, I felt like I was seeing California with fresh eyes.
Living in a new environment made me experience myself and the world in a whole new way. New opportunities arose, and sometimes I did things I never expected. (I keep an ongoing list of “new college experiences,” including attending a giant protest and eating a kumquat). But it’s not always fun. There’s a lot of hype about how amazing college is, but it can also be really difficult, especially freshman year, adjusting to the changes.
Forming support systems was important to me because going into college, I didn’t start out with a strong or extensive network of family and friends. Joining a club was the quickest way for me to develop a college family, plus it helped me get involved in campus life. I loved my dorm experience because I was part of a community that produced close friendships. Similarly, joining an a cappella group gave me a musical family in Davis.
It was strange to jump from high school, which was so structured, to an environment where I constructed my own schedule. For me, the best way to make this transition was to dive into the community. Explore! College is a great time for experimentation – I made the best friends by getting involved, and the best experiences from taking risks. During my first quarter at Davis, I took an Arabic poetry seminar on a whim and ended up loving it. I was so inspired that I decided to study Arabic, which I had absolutely no experience with. Needless to say, everyone – myself included – thought I was a little crazy.
I started taking Arabic this fall and it’s by far my favorite class. Challenging myself with new activities and ideas not only rounded my education, it also helped me discover a lifelong passion.
To summarize, I really enjoy college life. College is a pseudo real-world place where I engage with society yet am removed from it. In particular, Davis is a little Utopia where people ride bikes and wrestle with great notions of the outside world. It’s kind of odd, really, but also kind of wonderful. I’m glad to be a part of it, if only for four years.