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Park Scholars Tell Stories

First-year Park Scholars share their experiences with the transition to collegiate life at IC

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Posted by Matt Fee at 2:44PM   |  Add a comment
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by Ramya Vijayagopal '17

At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical college freshman — College is perfect.

When my fellow Park Scholars and I moved in Aug. 20, we immediately started forming the strong bonds we share today. Our family developed at a rapid pace, helped along by our orientation session and venture into the woods for a team building and high ropes course.

It's hard to believe six weeks have passed since the beginning of our adventure. We are so familiar with each other and Terrace 3 that it feels like we've been here for years, but at the same time when these milestones pass we are astonished at how quickly time has slipped by.

I am convinced that without my involvement with the Park Scholar Program, my college experience wouldn't be the same. Living in the HOME program caused us to bond closely with each other, as well as with the MLK scholars and other residents. The Park Scholars are a family, and the MLKs and other residents are our extended family. It's a great network.

I don't feel homesick, because Terrace 3 is my home now. I talk to my parents frequently, but I have a new family now so there is no sadness there.

Another thing that has shaped and will continue to shape my college experience is my involvement with Premium Blend. It's crazy to think that I almost didn't audition, because now this group is such a vital part of my life. Music is something I have been passionate about all my life, and this all-female a cappella group is the perfect outlet for this love of mine.

The process of finding a rhythm with classes, organizations and co-curriculars has been stressful at times, but overall I think we have all adjusted nicely. It's great to have a support network of people who know exactly what you are going through because they are facing the same thing, and I don't think I would have formed friendships this quickly if I was in a single or in a different dorm, just because we had so many opportunities to bond even before the rest of the school moved in. I remember how weird it felt to see all these cars pull up on Aug. 25: It was really strange to see campus filled because we were used to being some of IC's only inhabitants for the previous week. But it's been great to meet new people and my professors.

Speaking of classes, one difficult decision I've already had to make was switching classes. I dropped my elective as soon as I got home from it because it wasn't what I expected and I could tell it wasn't going to be my thing. I decided to take a Shakespeare class instead, and I am so happy I was able to get over my initial misgivings. At first I was reluctant to switch classes because it felt like I was giving up or like I had failed in some way, but now I realize I wouldn't have been happy in the other class and therefore I wouldn't have been successful. It also wasn't a class that were required or relevant to my major, so I wasn't missing out on anything. Besides, with my sociology class and Globalization and the Media, I find my schoolwork covering a lot of the material I would have touched on in that class so I was content with my decision.

I guess my advice to incoming freshman for next year would be to act fearlessly when it comes to trying new things and to follow your gut. I almost didn't audition for Premium Blend- If I had let my misgivings keep me from auditioning, my college experience would be a lot different, and not as fulfilling. Also, don't be afraid to do something about it if something feels off, like a class you signed up for or the like. You'll be happy you took care of it, and it doesn't reflect poorly on you as a person.

I'm quickly learning that college is a place where it legitimately is okay to not know exactly what you want to do, something I feel wasn't the case in high school.

Let's see what the rest of the year brings!


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