Perez: College is weird

Alan Perez, Daily Senior Staffer

Graduation Issue

I took my first step onto Northwestern’s campus alone with no idea where to go. I arrived a day early to my pre-orientation program and took 20 minutes to find Parkes Hall, where I slept on the floor of a classroom for the night. It took me about three days to finally open up and start talking to people. During Wildcat Welcome — at what most people recall as the “diversity TND” — I shared my shock at the existence of so many white people. As someone who grew up in a community whose population was mostly Latinx and Asian, I did not interact much with white people, nor did I think critically about race and power in this world.

All of this to say: College was weird, at least for me. That first month kicked off a four-year span during which I felt uncomfortable, out of place and overwhelmed. But I also grew, learned more about myself and the world, and accomplished what I never thought I would do.

I remember feeling so disappointed after dropping an introductory Astronomy course my freshman year, only to make it a habit to drop one class every quarter. I struggled with academics and often felt intimidated by peers, especially as a first generation student from an under-resourced public school. But I’m glad I challenged myself and engaged in some real critical learning.

I also felt the well-known FOMO as my peers began to rush Greek life and join other clubs. Fortunately, I finally found people and communities where I felt more comfortable and began to develop meaningful relationships. I stopped trying to gain approval and instead tried to meet and become friends with cool people. I’m glad my time at The Daily Northwestern was part of this experience.

College was not what I expected — it was definitely harder. I learned that it’s OK to feel out of place, to feel alone. But what made my experience was the people I met and the relationships I developed. I realized these connections as I make my way through this world are really what makes life worth it. I’ll always be grateful for the people I met, and I’m excited for the people I’ll meet in the future.