Like many freshmen, one of my first big experiences at UCI was walking through the Anteater Involvement Fair. As I pushed away all kinds of flyers (but accepted all the ones with candy attached), I came to realize something:
UCI has a LOT of things to do.
It was honestly pretty overwhelming. There were clubs for Engineering that built homes in third world countries, a math club that offered free pizza to attendees, and even a club that treated UCI as a mock-kingdom where student “knights” made their own chainmail and participated in medieval tournaments. As a nerdy fellow interested in pretty much all of these things, I did not know where to start. I even convinced myself that I didn’t have the time to start trying any of these things because I needed time to adjust to college life. Plus, I’d be going home (I live a little over an hour away) on the weekends, so I couldn’t commit to anything then, right?
As it turns out, this was absolutely the wrong mentality. Now I am not saying that you should accept every single flyer given to you on Ring Road–before you know it you would be rushing three fraternities/sororities and paying a monthly subscription to CALPIRG. However, if you see something that even slightly interests you, my advice to you is to just dive in and give it your all. After getting over my freshmen stage fright of sorts, I decide to put myself out there and I signed-up for the Fencing club at UCI which had weekly classes at the ARC. Why fencing? Despite it not having any positive effect on my resume or giving me any networking opportunities, fighting with swords sounded awesome and I just couldn’t pass up the experience. Which brings me to my next point: college is not just a venue for making yourself a better candidate for the “real” world, it is your chance to try all of those things you wanted to try and meet tons of people that you wouldn’t normally interact with. This gives you a whole array of different experiences that you would never come about normally and that you can take with you into everything else that you do later in life.
Though I didn’t stick with Fencing, it opened the door to greater involvement for me. I proceeded to join that math club and did receive free pizza on multiple occasions (as well as play some fun math games). I didn’t stick with that one more than quarter either, but it actually helped me figure out that I didn’t want to do Upper-Division Math (as I was a Math major at the time) and that I would rather be doing Engineering. So, I switched majors to Civil Engineering and then started to get involved in various Engineering clubs on campus. A few years later and I am President of Tau Beta Pi (the National Engineering Honor Society), a Peer Academic Advisor for the CHP, the Steel Bridge design captain for the American Society of Civil Engineers at UCI, a member of Chi Epsilon (Civil Engineering Honor Society), and a Comic Strip artist for UCI’s newspaper, the New University. Though this would have been a lot to take on all at once, it has been a long process of me getting more and more involved in my areas of interest until, all of sudden, I realized that I was actually super involved. More so, it taught me that I have significant leadership qualities, that I love artistic creativity as well as technical design, and that I actually am quite extroverted. These are all discoveries that I would not necessarily have come to if I had stayed home and browsed the internet instead of putting myself out there.
So, whether you are a freshmen or have already been here a year or more, make sure to get involved in the things you love both to have fun and to discover more about yourself.
That’s all for me! I’ve got clubs to attend to.