On decision day, I remember anxiously waiting for the webpage to load, and staring at a blank screen for what seemed like a day and a half. Then I hear band music, and I remember thinking, “Well, that’s rude of them to play music while rejecting me.” After rereading the admissions letter, I realized that it was congratulating me. And that the music was actually the University of Pennsylvania’s alma mater. I immediately called my dad, someone who was there through the journey up until that very moment, unconditionally. I remember hearing his voice crack as he proudly said, “You did it!”
I felt like I learned something new every day of my first semester. I was learning how to manage my time, what worked and what didn’t work, how to organize my papers and readings, how to take care of myself and when to have fun. I learned a lot about myself in those first few months.
In high school, there was a point early on in my freshman year when I decided that I wasn’t the smartest person there, and that I was going to be content with being an average student. This is probably my biggest regret. I had already given up on myself and my possibilities, that I limited what I was actually capable of.
Getting into college, motivated by many personal reasons, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. Although I’m still getting used to pushing myself and learning about small things, like when I focus better or the best way to study, I know that I am already doing better than before because I am starting to believe in who I am and why I’m here. I think it has to do more than just my confidence, it’s also about how hard I am willing to work and self reflect.
My first semester at Penn was amazing. I’ve made really great friends, have unique memories with them, feel more comfortable in the classroom, am open to new experiences and forming relationships and am ready to take advantage of what Penn has to offer. It’s interesting to think back about the transition and how now that I am in my second semester, I feel all the more prepared. Last semester, I had to come to terms with what my strengths and weaknesses are and how to overcome them as well as my hesitance to reach out to people for help.
If I can leave an incoming college freshman with a few tips it would be these:
You have nothing to prove to anyone else but yourself. You’re here for a reason, to do and be better. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help in whatever field you may need it on. Being independent for the first time can be scary but it’s part of moving into a new chapter of your life; challenge yourself. When you doubt yourself, remember you have a network of support back home and don't be afraid to make new ones in your new home. Lastly, you got this. We’re all rooting for you.
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