From dread to delight

By: Julianne Tran

Way back in May, I vividly remember staring at my laptop screen with two websites open in separate windows of two different universities. I remember writing long lists of pros and cons for each school. I remember long conversations with my parents about my options and my actual realization that I’ll be leaving home in a couple of months. I even remember scrolling through Instagram pages of students at each school, trying to superficially compare which students seemed happier. I remember lying in bed in tears thinking that I made the wrong decision, my mind reeling of all the things that could go wrong and how unhappy I could be at the wrong college.

My Orientation group: Mom’s Spaghetti!
My Orientation group: Mom’s Spaghetti!

What if I don’t like any of my classes and I don’t like my major and I don’t like my professors and I don’t like any of the students in my classes? What if I could be so much happier at another school? What if I am making a monumental mistake?

A great view while studying outside McFarlin Library
A great view while studying outside McFarlin Library

Now, reflecting on that stressful and emotional time, those worries have completely disappeared. I could not have been more wrong about my college experience. I think back on all those worries and almost laugh. All my classes, though at times challenging, have only left me with positive thoughts. My professors are all vibrant, interesting people who seem to love what they’re doing. The friends I have made, both in Panama through JumpstartTU and on campus, have been so welcoming, kind and inspiring. I can’t imagine experiencing the beginning of freshman year at another school.

People always told me that you’ll get that feeling when you’re on a college campus that “this is the right place for me.” They told me that they stepped foot on campus and knew it was right for them. For me, that feeling did not completely manifest itself in that way. Instead, I remember walking back to my dorm room after orientation week activities and lying in bed with a feeling of utter contentment. I have never slept so well as I did that night.

That night seems so long ago; college seems to be running on a different clock because it’s been almost six weeks since move-in day. Since that night, let’s just say I have not consistently had those long, restful nights. I have spent many late nights laughing with friends over embarrassing stories, going to Whataburger too late into the night, two-stepping in a very hot room and eating ice cream at the Newman Center after Mass. But, most frequently, I have been in McFarlin’s upstairs study room studying and finishing assignments.

I’m so surprised by how quickly and easily I became comfortable at TU. Going to class, eating lunch, going to more class, doing homework and studying became a smooth and comfortable routine for me.

My friends and I after the first day of school!
My friends and I after the first day of school!

It helped to have friends by my side, the best roommate to talk about my day with and lots of TU advice and guidance. (A special thanks to my OL Sydney for immediately and excitedly welcoming me to campus.)

In a mere six weeks, I find myself integrated into a community that is supportive, lively and motivating. I find myself in classes that push me to think deeper, question further and work harder. To say, “college is no joke,” is an understatement. Yet, I don’t find myself feeling discouraged or incredibly overwhelmed. I’ve learned through my time in college so far that I simply need to work harder (but also smarter), seek help and embrace the challenges that these classes present. I’ve used CSAS tutoring and have emailed my professors more times than I thought I would – and I am so glad that I did.

A Favorite view of campus from Chapman Hall
A favorite view of campus from Chapman Hall

That’s not to say there have not been drawbacks. There were moments when my towel would fall off the hook in the Lottie Jane bathrooms, or I would keep changing my answer on a quiz just to get it wrong or I would eat lunch while staring at a quizlet for an exam the entire time and realize, “wow, this is college.” I have speed-walked to class in the Oklahoma pre-fall heat with too many things on my mind and gone back to my room, laid down on my bed and stared at the ceiling – feeling drained and exhausted.

But through the happy and stressful moments, I am glad to be here at TU. I’m sure there will more tearfully difficult decisions to make, but it is comforting to know that I now have a community to fall back on and that through this freshman experience I’ll be constantly growing and learning to better face future challenges.

Julianne Tran is from Mustang, Oklahoma. She is majoring in exercise and sports science on the pre-med track, with a minor in Spanish. Julianne loves dancing and trying to make entire meals in her dorm room microwave. “I hope to finish my time at TU as a kinder, smarter and better-equipped person!”