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Born Again Freshman: Who Knew?

By Project MyStory Ambassador, Christina Etienne

woman holding a bookTo be honest, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to relate to a transfer student. As I was strolling with a friend one day, she ranted on and on about the troubles of being a transfer at UAlbany. I wasn’t paying attention as she droned, for I could not empathize until she quietly muttered “It’s like being a freshman all over again.”, and the empathy finally sank in.

I am in my sophomore year, but I can remember how rough my first month was as a freshman. I didn’t exactly have a sense of belonging, and didn’t have a solid group of friends to call my own. I could join all the clubs I wanted, like everyone highly recommended, but I still felt alone and that bothered me for some time. As I continued listening to my friend, my heart sank. Imagine going though that experience again? I’d be miserable times ten. And since I couldn’t come to her support as a fellow transfer student, I came to her as a former freshman. Yes, I was not aUAlbany Podium transfer student, and I could not relate to all of her trials, but we found a mutual understanding. So instead of trying to pretend like I could truly help her with all of her problems, I shared my own stories of misfortune so we could laugh, reflect, and devise ways to make things better. And as we parted ways, I felt as if there was something else bonding us besides the reason we became friends in the first place. I reached her on another level that I thought was unattainable and I was happy to help. She helped me to reflect on my journey as much as I helped her on her current path.  My simple message to transfer students is this: you are not alone. Outside of this minority, there are so many others that have been through similar trials. Throughout this Born Again Freshmen series, I hope that we will be able to share our stories, and reach that level of higher understanding. I hope you’ll come for the ride.

What does starting over mean to you?

By Christina Etienne, Project MyStory Blogger

DoorwayFor me, the idea of starting over was one big ambiguous cloud hanging over my head. There were so many ways to approach it. I could’ve attacked it head on or tried to push it away out of sight. But embracing it seemed like the most obvious option. At the start of my freshman year in college, I thought starting over would’ve been easy. This was my opportunity to re-invent myself, create Christina 2.0. But embracing the cloud was a lot harder than I thought. There were so many other factors that the cloud brought along with itself for me to handle. In the end I had to acknowledge that although the idea of starting over offered such great optimistic promises of new beginnings, it came with a giant flashing proceed with caution sign. Not exactly the fantasy I had hoped for, but it gave me the slap of reality I needed.

Since transfers have to go through this process two times over, I wanted to hear their input of what starting over meant to them. Isabella, a sophomore says that the most annoying part [of starting over]was that no matter what you do, it won’t be easy one way or another. I explained to her my theory and asked for her thoughts. “I don’t really think it’s as ambiguous as you make it seem.” She tells me. “I think we all know what starting over is, we just don’t want to admit to ourselves how bad it’s going to be. It’s just easier to tell yourself it’s going to be great.”

“Is it really that bad?” I asked her.

“No, I’m just being dramatic. As a transfer, yeah, I think it’s harder for us, but it’ll get better after a couple of weeks. You just gotta’ settle in.” Isabella tells me.

That was enough for me to change my theory. I thought back on what she said, and I realized that I had been lying to myself. I think that we all want to start over optimistically even though in the back of heads we’ll know it won’t be so simple. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little delusion. It keeps us hopeful, and hope can keep anyone moving forward no matter how rough things get.

Christine Etienne is a UAlbany Sophomore.

Click here to see how you may become a Project MyStory Blogger

Choosing Your Pathway

pathwayOn my journey to exploring the world of transfer students at UAlbany, I have met transfer students of all ages with varying predicaments. I like to ask them all, “what made you choose to come here?” and I get different answers along the way. Some have come to play a D1 sport, and others have come to try their hand at college one more time. But besides that, what I really wanted to know was how the idea of starting over again affected their choices. I spoke with one sophomore who transferred specifically to play sports. He told me, “Yeah it was always something at the back of my head. I was going to have to start over no matter where I went. But it makes you feel better knowing that they are new people coming here every year besides me –  you know?”

I talked to another sophomore named Sasha who had the opposite case. She had come here because it was a big campus. “My last school was really small.” She tells me, “I had a hard time being involved, so I decided to go to a larger one. If there’s more people, there’s an endless amount for me to connect with.” “How is it going so far?” I asked her. “It’s good. I have a cool group of friends, so starting over ain’t that bad.”

The last person I talked to was a senior name Elijah. He had transferred in beginning of his senior year.  I asked him of what he thought about choosing a pathway. He told me that it took a while to figure out his path. “For about the first month I didn’t know many people. I had this routine for a while but I wasn’t happy. I felt like I didn’t belong here. For a good amount of time I thought that was it. This is what my whole year is gonna be like. After a while you meet people and you realize things do get better, and that was just a phase.”

So despite the idea of starting over, it seemed as if everyone at found their own way of coping with it. Whether they decided to hold their head high and tough it out, or find a way to look at it with an open and optimistic mind. Your journey is what you make it, and everyone’s pathway is not the same. Choose a pathway that works well for you, but keep the negative energy out. The opportunity of starting over allows a clean slate perfect for fostering a positive college experience.


 

About the Author

ChristineChristine Etienne
Class of 2018
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology
Fall 2015 Blog Theme: Born Again Freshman

What They Don’t Tell You About Joining Clubs

ALoneIn the first installment of this series, I mentioned that the beginning of freshman year was not easy for me. I met friends during orientation which was great. But when the year started, they had seemed to disappear. Most people I saw, created great bonds with their roommates, but that wasn’t the case for me. My roommate and I did not get along and still don’t to this day. So I decided to join some clubs. They were advertised almost everywhere. I would see posters taped around the podium with big bold letters. “Come join!”, “Make new friends!”, “Gain great experiences!”. Even my RA, the social butterfly, persistently reminded us every day to go out and join something. So after my first month, I finally decided to go join a club.

 My first club was sports related. Although I loved the sport, I felt out of place. It was hard to feel truly welcome when they were already established as a group. Don’t get me wrong, they were very welcoming and friendly, but I still did not feel like I belonged. This wasn’t the only club I had this problem with. I went to two others and I still had the same dilemma. I knew I was not the only one having this problem. I was always paying attention to my surroundings, watching others who were like me. I could tell by their body language. Whenever there were meetings or events, everyone would bunch up into little groups while a few others would stand by themselves looking a bit confused and out of place. And that’s exactly how I felt. I eventually left a couple of these clubs, and found others better suited for me, where I felt at home.

 What I am really trying to say is that it is normal if you do not feel at place when joining clubs. I feel like that is one thing that people forget to mention. Clubs are a great place to meet people, but I personally do not think it clicks with just everybody. I know people who have made great bonds by joining clubs. But if it does not work, that’s ok. You can go back and try again later if it doesn’t work for you at first. Just be aware that it’s normal and you won’t be the only one going through it.


 

About the Author

ChristineChristine Etienne
Class of 2018
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology
Fall 2015 Blog Theme: Born Again Freshman

UAlbanese and the L Sees: Deciphering Frequently Used Terms for a Successful Semester

ualbanese

parkingDay One: You call ahead to find out where to park. “Not in the circle; students park in Gold Parking,” says a voice on the other end. Super. Too bad you have no idea where either are. When you arrive, you find an empty spot close to campus because you have arrived early. What a relief. You look over your schedule one last time; it’s a strange LC number, but no buildings say ‘LC’ on the outside. A student, who looks a little more experienced than you, tells you to take the tunnels to the L Sees, or  you can ask the students at The Podium. There is no sign for either anywhere and the UAlbany map looks more like a small city rather than a school. Everyone tells you that you will get used to it after day one, but then day one comes to a close and you find a warning on your car about your parking. Apparently that wasn’t Gold Parking.  

Parlez-vous UAlbanese?

Sometimes we take for granted that we are speaking UAlbanese, using institutional lingo that gets lost in translation. Here are  some explanations of just a few terms to help ease your transition into UAlbany:  Continue reading “UAlbanese and the L Sees: Deciphering Frequently Used Terms for a Successful Semester”