My first year at Amherst was definitely a whirlwind of experiences, but was one that I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed. I remember being really scared during the weeks before Orientation, because (among other things)...all of my high school friends were staying in state, my family was moving from Michigan to Florida, and I had no idea how I'd adjust to a college that would be so far from home. Yet looking back, I know that I made the right decision to come here - and I truly feel like I've grown into a person that I wouldn't have become had I gone to another school.
In terms of my academic workload, I came in as a pre-med student and so I immediately begain taking Intro Chemistry, amongst other "pre-med requirements" (more like recommended classes). I was overwhelmed at the get-go with the change in workload, because I'd always heard that going from the IB Program that I was involved in to college was an easy transition - it definitely wasn't! I had to work just as hard as I always had, and sometimes wouldn't get the expected results, but I had so many professors who were willing to come to my rescue (many, many times). One professor in particular, Professor Ampiah-Bonney, would actually meet with me every single week one-on-one to discuss any questions I'd have from lecture, and we got really close during the course of the school year. He actually came to my dance shows (more on that in another post!), and my friends and I were able to utilize a program called TYPO (Take Your Professor Out) to have dinner with him in town for free! He's one of many professors who were really understanding and helpful during my first year, especially amidst the stresses and tribulations of a STEM-heavy courseload. The picture on the right is from one of my Chem Discussions, where I wrote something on the board and Professor Ampiah-Bonney liked it so much, he took a picture with it LOL
In terms of the friends I made and how I adjusted socially, I will admit that it was really tiring the first few weeks. I didn't have a great grade school experience, and so I wanted to make sure I found a community that I enjoyed being a part of at Amherst - and because of that, I ended up overexerting myself when it came to going to every single event possible. I learned from my mistakes pretty quickly, but those days were tiring when they were occurring. Nevertheless, I was able to find people I really enjoyed being around! I will say that everyone at Amherst is essentially coming "alone" to Amherst, in that most people don't come with a full squad from high school - and therefore, everyone's eager to make friends. I found my friends by constantly hanging out in the Stearns common room (they had a ping pong table), since people would always come through and say hi; looking back, it's crazy how this one place led to me meeting so many important people, but I'm so grateful. The friends that I've made during my first year have already become so important to me (which is weird, because it normally takes a while for me), and I'm so excited to continue my time at Amherst with them. Not only did we study together and work hard academically, but we made memories at the nearby mall or Five College venues, and I was even able to go to a concert with some of my closest friends during spring break (more on that in another post!)
Overall, my first year at Amherst definitely wasn't a walk in the part - along the way, I went through some medical complications, and me being really prone to overstressing myself didn't really help. Yet somehow I've found a community that not only makes me feel accepted and appreciated, but one that also always wants me to succeed; and because of that, they're always pushing me to do my very best. I haven't always felt confident or comfortable in my skin, but that's already changing with just one year under my belt, and thinking of the future makes me really excited - albeit slightly scared, because I'll be taking Organic Chemistry this year. But that's neither here nor there!