Freshman Year At La Iupi: A Retrospective


The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The school year is almost over, and as the semester starts wrapping up I am confronted with the fact that I’m about to enter my second year of college. I major in Political Science which means (particularly in this concentration) that I haven’t seen any courses related to my major, but my curriculum won’t be as filled with general courses anymore, and the college reality becomes more real by the day. As I think about what comes next, I start to reflect on my time here in UPRRP since August.

First Semester

My first day didn’t feel as much as this amazing new beginning one might expect. My first class was at 7AM and it was virtual, and since I had an in-person class afterwards, I had to figure out where the heck I would go to take it since I wasn’t so familiar with the spaces on campus yet. From the get-go I went into planning mode, I knew the library was an option… or so I thought when I found out it didn’t open until 8AM. Luckily, I had signed up for the orientation students program (highly recommend, particularly for that first semester) and my assigned person recommended the student center. So there I was, there was barely anyone on campus and I was about to take my first college class ever. As most first classes of the semester go, it was mild, mostly introductions and going over the syllabus, same with the next, but there was this feeling that told me this would be the start of having to face small (and bigger) challenges every day.Although I only had two morning classes, I spent the whole day on campus with people I knew from high school. It felt weird, good weird. Suddenly we were here in what felt like a TV spin-off, with a slight feeling of unease and excitement. I could tell we met up that day because we needed it, a reminder of the past while on the verge of the future, now present. 

From there on, having found a rhythm in my class while still not drowning in work, I did my best to not let my mind idle. Some days I had a four hour gap in between classes, so I tried to keep busy, oftentimes looking for people I knew to hang out with. I found myself surprisingly able, given my introverted nature, to jump from one person to another. Maybe it was a survival instinct, filling the time to not lose myself all alone in a big place. Not only was I exploring, but I also became a forager. Looking where to eat, while not overwhelming, was definitely a little intimidating. Bean salads became a constant comfort. Something quick, nourishing, and easy that wasn’t much of a hassle. 

Routines were interrupted when Hurricane Fiona made it to the island. Took a while before classes could be in-person again. But when everyone returned to campus, I went to a poetry activity that had been postponed. It was such a relaxing experience, it reminded me that it’s little things like this, where you get to play around with your interests, that make this whole experience worth it.

The second half of my first semester wasn’t as smooth though. I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and things were starting to pile up, people weren’t nearly as available and everyone was on a different schedule. I was never a social butterfly and didn’t always have close friends, but I never realized how used I was to being surrounded by people and familiar faces, even when I wasn’t directly socializing. All nighters became a thing, moods were low, but as the end of that first semester drew nearer there was light at the end of the tunnel. Final papers were a marathon, but one in particular really kept me there. For spanish, I wrote an essay about the Caribbean and international relations, and given my interests and major, this was work that I enjoyed. I survived my first semester with good grades and many acquaintances made, I also managed to make my course selection without much of a hassle. Luck was on my side and I had the hope it would follow me into the next semester… especially if I was taking a math course.

Second Semester

Sometimes I have a tendency to bite off a little more than I can chew just to prove to myself that I can do it. Right before classes started again, I got a job. Also, cabin fever during holiday break did a bit of a number on me, and so I needed something that would keep me active but differ from student life. Shortly after, an email arrived saying I had been accepted into Her Campus (hurray!). So, in a week I suddenly became a full time student, working at a food industry and part of a student organization. Ok, I could deal with that, juggle everything and do it well enough. For better or worse, I want to be able to create situations that I am in control of, that was always the goal for college.

A month later I found myself having formed a genuine group of friends, acquired a group of friends. Wow, things were really starting to get into the college-y vibe. All from different concentrations, but similar enough in our social energies that we could really bounce off each other. Little by little, things didn’t feel so bad. A few days after, I went out at night to an arts event in Río Piedras. I enjoyed myself, bits and pieces of my social life came together to balance out the mundane. Even with the job, working night shifts, I managed well enough. 

And now, with a couple of weeks left of the semester, I can at least say that I survived. Sure, I’m tired and getting a lot less sleep, but I am also filled with this oddly satisfied feeling of where I am in my life. I’m branching out, in more ways than one. I feel as though I have gotten a small taste of life with an appetite for more. I acknowledge that I have to continue to make adjustments and organize myself better (don’t we all?). It’s a lot, with so much more that is yet to happen, but I am okay with it. One way or another, everything leads to the future.

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