Freshman move-in day had finally come! Although I was excited to be starting my life as a CHP student, I was felt like a complete mess when I first arrived at UCI. I was tired from the long car ride and extremely sweaty from the 90-degree Irvine weather.
Walking into the Shire, the honors residence in Middle Earth, I was greeted by a group of excited fellow Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) students. However, I was horrified because I was still in my pajamas—I had thought that I would have time to change before meeting anyone! I quickly lugged my heavy suitcases up to my room and changed into some proper clothes.
I was hungry so when I made it back downstairs, I asked if anyone wanted to go have dinner, but a student told me that they had all just come back from Pippin Commons, the dining hall. I then proceeded to freak out because I had no idea how to get to Pippin, and I apparently also had no idea how to make friends.
“AHHHHH!” my brain screamed at me. “Everyone went and ate together, which means they are probably all best friends. So nobody is going to want to be friends with you! Plus, you’ll never find food! You might as well drop out now!”
Before my thoughts spiraled even deeper into a hole of desperation, I was approached by a girl who cheerfully said, “I ate already, but I’ll show you where the dining hall is!” While I told her that she didn’t have to, not wanting to bother her, my eyes were definitely pleading for help. She quickly responded that her name was Alyse and assured me that she was happy to show me around. Not only did she take me to Pippin, she sat next to me and kept me company while I clumsily ate dinner.
From that meal forward, Alyse and I regularly ate together at the dining hall. Over fries and ice cream, we talked about our day, our classes, and made a lot of really bad puns that only we enjoyed. In those moments, I felt so much gratitude for the CHP because without honors housing, I would not have found my best friend and my way around college.
I would say that my friendship with Alyse is representative of my experience in CHP housing as a whole. Living in the Shire, I was surrounded by a group of caring people who were always willing to help me with everything. My wonderful RA planned both academic honors programs and social events for us to get to know one other better, so that by the end of the first week of classes our hall was already a community. We formed study groups and attacked our Honors Humanities Core exams and assignments together, giving feedback on one another’s essays and encouraging each other to get the work done, even when we just wanted to procrastinate. Although each one of us had very different extracurricular interests, we found a commonality in being CHP students: our love of learning came alive in our honors seminar discussions and in our study groups.
Having had such a positive experience freshman year, I decided to continue to live in honors housing. Now as a sophomore, I’m living in the CHP houses in Arroyo Vista—with Alyse as my roommate! I love being surrounding by highly motivated, intelligent CHPers who push me to do my best in everything and who keep me going, supporting me with kindness and understanding when college seems overwhelming.
Through honors housing, the CHP fosters a balance between working hard and having fun that has shaped my college experience in a unique and wonderful way. The transition into college can be difficult at times, but the CHP community—which is full of wonderful people like Alyse—always reminds me that I am not alone here at UCI. I know that I can always count on the CHP and find someone to be there for me whenever I’m searching for friendship or food.
By: Kareena (Psychology and Education Sciences)