Scholar Check-in: Julie Kwong
Princeton University, freshman
These past two weeks have been filled with times of joy and fear. Fear, you may be asking. Well, I enrolled myself into four courses in the beginning of the semester, which included a writing seminar, Spanish, Math, and a class of 19th century poetry. I had switched myself out of the recommended calculus class into a much more proof-based math course that all math majors are required to take. Because I was already a day behind and the content of the course was time-consuming to understand, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I sat in the lectures in confusion, desperately trying to compare the instructor’s writing with the textbook. I would find myself rushing to my dorm to study and attempt to at least comprehend the basics of the concept. This I did for a few days until I finally convinced myself that, one, I cannot major in Math, and two, that I should drop the course now before it is too late.
Unfortunately, I am slightly a step behind the others in my new classes, but I am so glad I made the move early! The first semester of freshman year should be a time of exploration, not a time to immerse yourself in classes that you don’t find interesting and that are, to be honest, well above your head and overwhelming. I do not mind being overwhelmed by the amount of work in a class; in fact, if it is a fascinating topic I don’t mind stressing over reading hundreds of pages. There’s a lot to do, but at least I enjoy it and can follow the class and the assignments. On the bright side, my new classes are fantastic! I dropped the math course and the 19th century course (I realized that I was not very fond of this subject as well) and switched into a Freshman Seminar on Coeducation and an Introduction to Architectural Thinking. The professors in both these classes are great, and while there is a lot of reading and writing in all, I am learning a lot of fascinating information. So far, I have completed my first college essay (currently a draft, but very close to a final), and have found that compared to high school, homework and readings are heavily referred to in class.
Since I enrolled in the Freshman Seminar a week into the course, I was expected to read 200 pages of a book as well as a couple of articles in one day. I pushed through and I’m glad I did, because the entire class was a student-led discussion on the book. College is definitely different than high school. I attended a session on time management and the instructor said something that will always stick with me: “Work early and play later. There is more free time than you think.” Saving Facebook, Internet surfing, and e-mail for the end of the day allows me to take advantage of the daylight hours for homework and studying. If I carefully plan my day and take advantage of my time, really, the work is not as stressful. And, there’s a lot of time to have fun too.
In terms of extracurricular activities, I auditioned for two acapella groups just for the experience. Surprisingly, I got called back to one of the groups! While I didn’t end up making the cut, I am very glad I took the opportunity to try something new. In addition, my hallmate and I have grown close and we have been eating meals together as well as playing badminton to work out! It is definitely important to have some physical activity at least three times a week and I am so happy that I am making exercise a part of my weekly routine. Lastly, I interviewed for a position on the freshman council of our university’s Chinese Student Association (CSA) and found out yesterday I made it! I am excited to be a part of this group and to feel a part of an organization on campus.