Category Archives: Life

Week one at UCI

The fall quarter at UCI can bring about a mixture of feelings—excitement, anxiousness, confusion and joy showing up in waves. At least that’s how I felt. I was a third year transfer coming from Irvine Valley College and I didn’t realize just how big UCI was until I got there. I was extremely excited to be starting school there and I was attending so many events—one after another. I found myself a little exhausted and lost at some point because there were so many things going on at the same time that I couldn’t keep up after a while. During the CHP transfer meeting, I met some friendly faces and I was glad that there was at least someone to go to if I needed something because everybody else appeared as though they knew exactly what they were doing. But the truth is, most people are on the same boat as you. The important thing to remember during the first week of college is that you need to pace yourself. This means that you should try everything out but the key thing is that you shouldn’t let it overwhelm you. Take it easy. It’s only the first week of the first year. There are plenty more to come. Go with the flow. If something interests you, stop and try it but don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once. Chill out and enjoy the ride!

My Freshman Year Experience: Enjoy, but Continue

My freshman year I learned a valuable lesson that I hope many of you can learn from. Fortunately, now is the perfect time for all of you to hear this, so listen up.

I entered college with the mindset that I had to branch out instantly and make reams of new friends. So I went for it. It was really successful, I was meeting people right and left, and a few weeks into Fall Quarter I thought I was set. The only problem was that school work was starting to pick up speed, and I was spending countless hours in my “cave”. There was still time to socialize, but between all of the studying it was more convenient to hang out with people from my hall instead of branching out to other people or joining clubs. My hall mates and I would hang out almost everyday, and it was a fun year, but I never felt quite at home with that group of people.

At the beginning of my second year, I finally realized that I had to do something about the lack of a friend group that I really gelled with. I joined some clubs (Mixed Interracial Exchange, OpenJam, Video Game Developers’ Club, and created Beach Volleyball Club), rushed a few fraternities, started an IM volleyball team, and took up sailing. Not only did these activities introduce me to some of the greatest people I have ever met, they also provided me with some unique experiences that I will not forget anytime soon.

So what is the point? The moral of the story is: don’t settle. Enjoy where you are at, but if the experience that you are having is not exactly what you want, then go hunting for it. I am not saying that your best friends at UCI won’t live in the same freshman dorm as you, but that you should look beyond before making a decision. And of course, join some clubs! Knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what to do. And the only way to find out, is by doing it all.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell

Your time is now,


Freshman Year.

I still remember my first day of college. Everything from meeting my roommate and his parents for the first time, taking a photo with my family in front of Loma, and our first dinner together as a hall. Haha, I remember at that dinner. There were only about 9 of us sitting around the table in the “piano room” in Mesa commons with our RA. She did most of the talking, constantly asking us questions in an attempt for us to get to know one another. Needless to say, it was quite awkward. But after that first encounter, the rest of that week was exhilarating. I’m an introvert, and meeting all those people in my dorm was amazing. We stayed up late, played card games, sat upstairs in the kitchen area in a huge circle and just talked.

But then the schoolwork began. Honors Chemistry, Hum Core, and Physics. I holed myself up in my room most of the time unless someone came looking for me asking for help. I quickly got labeled as one of the “studious” ones in the hall. But even those labels can be broken.

I came to realize that this opportunity to live in a dorm with all of my peers, eating together in commons, playing Super Smash Bros 64, and simply chatting and being exposed to different viewpoints of life is something that might never happen in my life again. And so my schoolwork was bumped down a little in priority, and I began developing friendships and memories to last a lifetime.

I guess what I want to leave you guys with is the knowledge that we have been in your shoes. Whether it is as an incoming freshman living in the dorms, a commuter trying to find “that group of friends”, or even as a transfer student, we’ve felt and experienced the same feelings you guys have. But above all, be open. Be open to meeting new people and listening to their experiences, insights, and opinions. Be open to trying things you have never tried before. Be open to the possibility of finding that one major, that one extracurricular activity that you are truly passionate about. Yes, you’ll be challenged, and you’ll be shaken. But from these events, you’ll grow and find out so much about yourself. Embrace the journey.


David Cao, CHP PAA

First Days at UCI: Tips from Me to You

The start of my journey at UCI was uneventful, to say the least. I think it’s common that your first quarter is awkward; for me anyway, I didn’t have many friends yet, didn’t know how to belong, and to top it off, I was (am!) a commuter, which separated me even more from my peers. Fall quarter three years ago was a huge question mark: what did I want to do? Did I really want to be a psychology major? What career am I preparing for? Will I ever belong anywhere?

These questions were answered eventually, but not because I sat around waiting for answers. It’s because I acted. I couldn’t stand to have all these questions unanswered! It drove me crazy, and I wanted – needed – to do something. And the first step for me was joining the CHP.

I wasn’t automatically accepted into the CHP as a Freshman, but that definitely didn’t stop me from applying right after my Fall quarter Freshman year. I remember writing my essays for the applications, thinking about how I wanted to be challenged, pushed, tested in college. How I wanted a truly well-rounded education. How I wanted to be one of the best students on campus, and not because I wanted to be better than others – it’s because I knew I was capable of so much more and I wanted to be better than I ever thought I could be.

Eventually, the CHP became the best support system on campus for me. It’s where I was told that I was smart enough to do anything. Where I discovered that, although almost unheard of, I could switch into the Biological Sciences major, and I could succeed as a bio major (despite my insecurities and fears). CHP was where I discovered how much I loved humanities, how much social science was a part of my everyday life, and how much studying biology meant to me. It was where I discovered my calling to pursue medicine. It was where I learned that being an intelligent human being is so much more than your grade point average.

The point of all this? Do stuff. Have fun. Question everything. Go with your gut, follow your heart, don’t settle for anything but the best. And that includes the best in you. If you see that you can improve, do something about it. Most importantly, remember what is most important to you and work hard to improve those things – relationships, curiosities, courses, values, and dreams. This is your time. Discover yourself, and don’t be afraid of who you are. Our true selves are often the very last bit that we offer to others – but in this little piece of truth, we are completely free.

Best regards,

Michelle Caunca, CHP PAA