Be eager to be changed: That’s the best advice I never received as an incoming college freshman.

My name is Carly Hanna and I am a junior at Pepperdine University in sunny Malibu, CA. I am a double major in Public Relations and Intercultural Communication. My motto is C’est la vie, Alors rire toujours, which reads It’s life, So laugh every day. But it sounds much better in French!


As a new student orientation leader this fall, I was reflecting on my own transition to college and the hurdle to belong to a new community. I was my own worst enemy during my first year of college: Reluctant to let go of where I came from and to accept the incredible novelty that surrounded me. I am currently in my third year at Pepperdine University, where we give hospitality a whole new meaning.



During this year’s new student orientation week, I was specifically reflecting on my approach to beginning new friendships, and I realized the simple importance of being authentic and being intentional.


Be yourself—Because authenticity attracts authenticity.


Be intentional when meeting new people. Do your absolute best to remember names and one thing about each new person you meet (their home state or major). This little trick will allow you to spark conversation later, and, if you remember your facts correctly, you’ll make a promising impression.


Embrace your emotions. For when you feel weak and weary, own that phase and be authentic with people about that too. I wish I had been able to reassure myself that phases like that one are temporary, and they are opportunities for light to shine through dark and brighten your spirit and experience overall.


I know now that I suffered from culture shock during my transition to college as I left the East Coast for Southern California. Although I became fast friends with the girls in my suite and I joined a few organizations on campus, I felt lonely on a regular basis. I longed for the comfort of my hometown and the people I had grown up with all my life: I craved a comfort zone.


College creates a space, maybe for the very first time in the life of some young adults, to join a brand new community to live life with. That concept can seem so foreign! Yet, if you let it, it can become one of the most comforting and knowing ideas in your life. I once heard that life doesn’t start until you leave your comfort zone, and college presents that opportunity for many for the very first time.


I almost wish I was a freshman again because I get so excited just thinking about every new student starting their journey here at Pepperdine and across the country at various colleges and universities.


In college, we are taught the nature of vocations, and we learn what our own callings are. College is a place that encourages you to think for yourself and be introspective too. There’s no doubt you will be challenged academically, but you will also be challenged to seek your purpose and find a way to blend your passions with a deep hunger of the world.


Get out there and get started!

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