Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jessica Tran

Hello ILC members,

I must admit that I did not believe I could contribute anything to the ILC students. I assumed that the new students would want to hear about dorm life and how college is an independent learning experience away from home. Sadly, I cannot give you feedback on these cases, however I can give you insight from a commuter's point of view.

I am a Cal commuter, meaning I take the bus from my house to the campus and back. Was I happy about the late buses and having to wake up earlier just to catch the right bus? Definitely not. All my the freshmen were getting the "college experience": living in the dorms, socially active, close to campus, and away from home. I, on the other hand, often worried about missing my bus to go home (which would result in another 40 minute wait.) To my own ears, my freshman year sounded like a hassle; however being a commuter actually made me determined in getting more involved on campus.

I have heard that living in the dorms is the best way to socialize. However, since I did not have that experience, I decided to apply myself to multiple organizations. I was shocked to find so many clubs and organizations on campus, constantly recruiting throughout the year. I remember that I signed up for every club that sparked my interest: community service, environmental clubs, sports, designing, etc.(there is bound to be something you are interested in and if not, you can form your own club.) Then reality hit and I noticed that most of the groups collided in their first general meetings. College can offer you so much activities, but you have to be realistic about what you can handle and what you have to give up. Even though I narrowed down my groups to Commuter's Club, Rotaract, Innovative Design, Teo Chew Association, Wushu, and Rally Committee, I still found out that on top of school work, commitment was hard. I could not fully enjoy what these groups offered because of the classes I picked.

College is definitely a learning experience. My advice to students who want to be more involved in campus organizations, is to make sure your classes are well balanced. Websites like and are truly helpful in picking classes. The former organizes possibilities while the latter gives student feedback on professors and the classes. Look for these resources! I had not known about them and decided to take a freshman architecture course before freshmen year; therefore I jumped into the sophomore studio classes when fall and spring came by. Even though I was ahead, I realize now that there are many time consuming classes. Do not be scared to ask the people around you about certain classes; the truth is, they probably want to ask you questions too. Also, I limited myself to only architecture freshmen year, and therefore I could not explore any other field. I recommend to students that even if you think you know what you what to pursue, still explore other fields just in case. This is your time to find out what YOU are passionate about; do not let that opportunity slip away.

Even though I am not fully independent from my home, the ILC gave me that experience. My weeks at Brown and Columbia gave me the chance to figure out how I would take the initiative for my own life. Though I am still figuring it out, I am a step ahead because of the ILC. So even though I am a commuter, I have learned that it is not impossible to get the "college experience." I get to decide the classes I want to take and the organizations I want to join; socializing and education fits in between. To all incoming freshmen, have fun and be confident in the choices you make. Good luck with your first year!

If you have any questions about Cal, commuting, or college, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,

Jessica Tran

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