1st Semester of College: A Whole New World

on under Life
4 minute read

I’ve recently started reflecting on my college life so far. What started this habit? To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure, but it’s been pretty interesting so far.

Looking back on my past year as a freshman in college I can notice a lot of change in my life in various aspects: academic, career, personal relationships, proficiency in “adulting”, and a lot of other stuffs. I think it’s pretty fun and useful to keep track of how much I’m improving–or worsening–in these various aspects.

So, I intend to start writing a log of my growth throughout college, starting with this post that will be about my first semester.

Anxious Academic

Taking a leap of faith. That’s how I would describe my first semester in terms of academic life.

I’ve been enrolled in UIUC as a computer science major with virtually no experience in the field. Why did I do that? Well, high school me just thought it’d be fun to learn about a field that I have no experience in.

There’ll be so much new things to discover, it’d be a grand adventure!

– A younger, much more naive me

Then reality finally hits me: I’ve been placed in one of the best school for computer science in the world and most of my peers are bright young people with a ridiculous amount of experience in the field. How am I, a newcomer who could probably be easily convinced to run :(){ :|: & };: supposed to survive?

After putting a lot of thought into how I could survive in the program, I decided on a go big or go home solution: take Honors classes, try to do undergraduate research–do anything that’s related to computer science. Best case possible, this would help me learn and catch up to my peers. Worst case possible, the workload would be too much for me, but I’ll probably end up learning a lot.

This was perhaps the one of the best decisions I’ve made. Although doing this was very anxiety-inducing, once the anxiety starts fading away, I found myself having the time of my life studying computer science. I had an amazing time exploring so much of the field, gained confidence in my ability to succeed in the program, and I ended up finishing the semester strong.

Rampant Relationships

First semester of college is a very interesting time period in terms of relationships.

Everyone is in a new environment, is lonely and homesick, and is trying their hardest to feel a sense of belonging.

This usually results in interesting phenomena. Personally, my favorite one is seeing a huge group of freshmen walking together down the street, each constantly talking over each other trying to establish that they’re the alpha of the group.

Most importantly though, the first semester of college is basically prime time to make new friends, and boy did I take advantage of that. To this day, I still thank my past self for trying his best in developing great personal relationships with people in my first semester of college.

I became friends with so many amazing people during my first semester of college. Many of them are still part of my close friend group too nowadays, which is a huge plus. A lot of them also taught me a great deal about computer science–in an alternative reality where I don’t meet them, maybe I wouldn’t have survived my first semester.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of interesting people that I got to know:

  • My intro to computer science professor who’s a complete bro and one of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever had (I ended up working with him in the future).
  • Three Linux boys that helped me install Ubuntu when my Windows wouldn’t let me run IntelliJ (this eventually leads me to become a Linux power-user).
  • My dorm RA who plays Smash Bros. with me and preached Arch Linux to me (interestingly, he’s a kinesiology major and only runs Arch for fun).
  • A girl who casually plays Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in the dorm lobby, a group of Japanese exchange students that I quickly became friends with, and many others!


I think my first semester was an absolute blast. It’s still one of the best time period in my life.