(Before the first football game of the year!)
I had very few expectations coming into orientation this past fall. Now that I have completed my first semester of college, people constantly ask me, “Is WashU just like you thought it would be?” I say yes, though I honestly had no idea of what college life would turn out to be when I got to campus in August. I had no idea what my classes, social life, or extracurriculars would be like. However, I can say that the aspects of the University that drew me to it when I applied have made great impacts on my experience thus far.
One thing that I appreciated about WashU when I was in the thick of the college application process was that it offers a wide range of fields of study while still giving students the opportunity to explore different options and not feel locked into any major or school within the University. As an undecided student, this freedom has been incredibly helpful and transformative as I continue to pursue a variety of interests and well as discover new ones.
Occasionally I feel a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I am still so unsure about my major, but then I remember how exciting it is to have so many possibilities and fields available to me to consider before declaring a major in the spring of my sophomore year. I love having the freedom to experiment with different classes and interests, as WashU does not only allow me to be undecided, but encourages me to use my indecision as an opportunity to learn and grow as a student and individual.
I believe that this encouragement comes not only from the WashU faculty and administration but also the student body. The visible strength of this campus’ community was what draw me to the University most, as I was excited by the way WashU provides the resources and opportunities of a larger research university while still maintaining a close-knit student body. When I visited the school, I was inspired by the amount of common spaces I found, such as courtyards, common seating areas in the libraries, the student center, called the Danforth University Center, and the South 40, our underclassmen residential village.
I felt that the South 40, known affectionately as the “40,” represented everything I wanted in a university, as its design inherently fosters community and interaction. I even noticed posters throughout residence halls in which students listed the classes they were in as well as their contact information in order to form study groups. It was in these simple posters that I realized how collaborative the WashU student community really is.
Now whenever I walk down the hall of my dorm, I see posters just like the ones I saw on my tour. My floormates spend evenings studying together in our common and study rooms. I love how everytime I walk to class I see both new and familiar faces, and that I can always find a friend to talk to throughout the day, whether in the library, cafes, newspaper office, or the many other hubs of student life on campus. Though I did not have many specific expectations coming into my WashU career, I can confidently say that they community I’ve found here has continued to confirm the sense of WashU culture that I felt when I first visited the University.
And yes, the campus does seem more and more beautiful every day.
(Summer, fall, and winter at WashU)