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Year One: Life at ASU — Reflecting on the freshman experience

Students at a white board.
January 27, 2016

The five freshmen who agreed to be part of our Year One: Life at ASU photo series are halfway through their first two semesters at the university. With experience as their guide, the freshmen reflect — in their own words — on their ASU experience and offer a tease of what they're excited or nervous about going into the spring term. We'll continue the photo slideshows of their ongoing journeys next month.

Student in a crowd.

Eric Arellano

I'm most looking forward to taking my experience at ASU to the next level of engagement in 2016. Now that I've gotten past my first semester, I've started to realize what I want to focus on. I've been excited (and at the same time a little scared) to really get into my computer science classes now that I've fully transitioned into the major. Perhaps the best example of getting even more engaged is my upcoming study abroad trip to Cuba. As a part of Study Abroad's new Global Intensive Experience program, I'll be going with 19 others, including four friends, to Cuba over spring break for the world's best field trip for a class I'm taking called POS 486: International Political Economy.

At the same time that I'm elevating my academic and extracurricular involvement, I'm looking forward to another semester of balance and enjoying what life has to offer beyond school. Honestly, one of the best benefits I've realized about ASU is that it encourages a very healthy and meaningful work-life balance. While I'm preparing for Cuba, I'm also able to go to one of our NCAA hockey team's games or just hang out at Zoyo (Neighborhood Yogurt). It makes college a lot more enjoyable and less stressful. So I'm certainly looking forward to another semester of being a Sun Devil!

Woman in a class.

Kaitlyn DiLorenzo

I’m definitely excited for this semester. I feel like now I have a better grasp of how to do college, it’s less terrifying and I’m more confident in what I am doing. I learned getting things done early is totally helpful. I totally procrastinated last semester, and it’s my goal to get things done early this time.

I actually signed up for a Chinese calligraphy class; it’s a one-credit class. I just went for the first time and it was terrifying. Two-thirds of the students in the class are actually from China, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up with that class.

Student standing next to college logo.

Shuo Zhang

Without notice, the second semester is beginning. Trying to review the life of last semester in ASU is a delightful way to remember it. Indeed, starting a new life in America is not easy to do, but after all, it is worthy. I still remember how nervous I was at the very beginning; everything was not familiar to me and I was speaking another language for daily life. At the same time I felt alone and missed my family and friends. It is undeniable to say that things changed as time went by; I became more strong mentally, I was trying to overcome all the difficulties that I faced and I learned that if you have the courage to face it, then there is nothing you would be afraid of. Life is simple when you carry the courage with you.

I made the first step on making friends here, which was I actively talked to people who I met. As a consequence, I got more confident and I had a new life that filled out with happiness here. All in all, everything is on the right track, and ASU is an amazing place to learn how to paint your life.

Woman hanging her clothes.

Hannah Kiesling

Well, I’m less nervous and excited to be back, honestly. I really like the independence of college and I thought being home (for winter break) would be really nice, but here is home and I’m glad to be back. I like spring semester because you know your pace here now and it’s my first year but you have good people to come back to.

I’m actually doing a research course, kind of counted as class credit, so that will be different and I’m excited to start and find something new. I don’t know where I want to go with nursing, but research is a big aspect. I feel like doing that earlier will be better for me in the long run. It’s mostly based on psychology; we’re doing a mixed-methods research, quantitative and qualitative having to do with diabetes. We’re also doing research on drug-prevention programs in middle schools. They’re trying to improve the programs.

A woman playing basketball.

Sabrina Haines

I was a little nervous about the college life and how I was going to manage everything before my fall semester. Now I think I have settled in a lot more, but I still have more stuff to learn. Last semester I learned that college is all about time management and learning how to do new cool things to help make life a little easier and less stressful. Just have fun with what you're doing. I have absolutely applied those strategies this semester. They help a lot. 

I was super nervous before my first game (Editor's note: Haines is a member of the ASU women's basketball team, which is currently ranked eighth in the nation) because of the magnitude and the importance of it and also it was my first college game ever. I still get little butterflies in my stomach now, but I'm starting to adjust and get used to the pace of everything. 

Some interesting classes I am taking (this semester) are ones that align with my major, journalism. It's a whole new experience learning about the behind-the-scenes of these kinds of things, but it has been very interesting. 

Freshman year has been very interesting so far. I have learned a lot, and I've adjusted to a lot of things. But I am glad I came to ASU and I am so thankful for all of the things that are provided to us as athletes and students every day. It has definitely been very fun so far.

Photos by Deanna Dent and Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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