Caitlin Lee graduated from Stony Brook University in December of 2013 with a degree in Finance and Economics. She is currently working at an advertising agency in New York City and enjoys exploring and enjoying all that the city has to offer. She has aspirations to travel the world, learn as much as possible, help inspire positive change even on a small scale, and find my place in the world.
As a freshman entering the daunting college arena, I felt completely overwhelmed by the excitement of arriving somewhere new, with people I didn’t know and places I hadn’t discovered yet. It was both liberating and frightening because on one hand, it was a fresh start, but on the other, I was leaving all that I knew behind. Change is not always any easy thing to accept or to adjust to. It seemed almost impossible at times to comprehend that life was no longer going to be as it always was.
My first week there, I found myself asking: How will I make friends? How will I spend my time? Will I like it here? At first I was sure I was never going to figure this college thing out. It’s funny how just a little bit of patience, courage, and time can change everything.
How will I make friends?
This question I answered by finding my inner bravery and pushing myself out of my comfort zone constantly. I joined a multitude of campus clubs that interested me like Community Service Club, Business Leaders of SBU, and Belly Dancing Club—and I joined clubs that were something I never imagined trying like the Fencing Club or Ultimate Frisbee. It would’ve been easy just to limit myself to things I was comfortable with. However, by trying these unexpected things, I found new interests and made friends with some very remarkable people with whom I most likely would have never met otherwise.
Soon I learned that the first couple of weeks of freshman year are equally as exciting for every other freshman there. As well, the upperclassmen are generally just as happy to be back after a long summer away from friends. Therefore, everyone is very much open to the idea of making friends and exploring new things. This made the process of starting up random conversations much simpler because very rarely would I be denied. Slowly but surely I was building up a network around campus.
How will I spend my time?
I consider myself very lucky because my freshman year roommates were friendly and cool and ended up becoming some of my best friends. This made life a bit easier for me freshman year. Yet, I didn’t let that stop me from expanding my social circle and doing my best to meet other people. I would attend sporting events, campus concerts and events, open mic nights, and study out in the quad leaving myself open for conversation. I eventually got a job at the campus theater as well. These things made it possible for me to not just make friends but also to find a connection with the school itself and help sustain that college excitement.
Additionally, plenty of time was obviously spent in class and studying. School and grades were always important to me from a young age so I worked really hard to maintain that drive. It was a struggle at first to adjust because the course load is so different from high school. However, I really just had to work to find the proper balance between work and fun. Developing time management skills is a major key to not only succeeding in college but to enjoying it as well.
Will I like it here?
As with many experiences in life, it is what you make of it. There were good times and there were bad. Overall, however, I did my best to get the most out of my experience both academically and emotionally. My mind and my heart grew and I learned more about myself in those four years than I had throughout my childhood. I found lifelong friends and made unforgettable memories. My life might take unexpected turns down the road but the experiences, the skills, and the wisdom that I took away from Stony Brook will stay with me forever.