The Daily Illini

Before and after a year at the University

By Emily Scott

The Daily Illini interviewed a group of freshmen at the beginning and end of the 2015-2016 school year to talk about how the year went. Here’s what they had to say about their favorite memories, what they learned and what they’d tell their freshman selves. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Abrielle Joseph, Sophomore in Agricultural Communications.

Submitted Photo
Abrielle Joseph, Sophomore in Agricultural Communications.

Abrielle Joseph

Downers Grove, Illinois

Major: Agricultural Communications

The Daily Illini: What was the most challenging aspect of your freshman year?

Abrielle Joseph: Learning how to study correctly, which I still haven’t figured out.

DI: Describe your freshman year in one word.

AJ: Independence. I was a pretty independent person when I was a kid, but you never really know how it feels to kind of be alone and all on your own until you go to college. You have to do stuff alone, you have to get sick on your own, so I think that was a big challenge — being sick and not having your parents there.

DI: Do you think you’ve changed over the past year, and if so, how?

AJ: I really don’t think that I’ve changed a lot . . . I’ve definitely grown as a person, I think I’m probably a tougher person. But I don’t think that I’ve been much different.

DI: What is your favorite memory from your freshman year?

AJ: Studying abroad in the Dominican over the winter.

Editor’s note: During the spring semester of Abrielle’s freshman year, she joined Illini Media. Her interview is a follow-up to a previous article written before Abrielle joined Illini Media. In the interest of continuity, she was included in this article.

 

Jerry Li, sophomore in Actuarial Science.

Jerry Li, sophomore in Actuarial Science.

Jerry Li

Vancouver, British Columbia (originally from Shenzhen, China)

Major: Actuarial Science

The Daily Illini: What did you enjoy most about your freshman year?

Jerry Li: I went to a bunch of places with my friends. We went to Alaska, Los Angeles — we saw the Northern lights. So these trips were what I enjoyed the most about freshman year.

DI: If you could tell your past self one thing on move-in day, what would you say?

JL: Buy boxes, you’ll need them for move out.

DI: Do you think you’ve changed over the past year, and if so, how?

JL: I felt like I’ve gotten lazier over the past year. Suddenly there’s so much freedom — I just slacked off. When I was in high school I was like, oh, I have to get ready for university, I have to study. Now I’m in university and I slacked off a lot more.

DI: Describe your freshman year in one word.

JL: Different. It’s much different than what I expected. Academic wise, there’s a lot more coursework for you to handle on your own, and you have to take more initiative . . . as opposed to when in high school, the teachers would see that you’re struggling; they’ll come over and help you.

Socially wise it’s also very different. There’s a lot of stuff to do at the University, so it’s like, “Do I want to do this? Do I want to do that?” Because there’s so many people. It feels harder to make friends as compared to high school where you’re always with this group of people, you see them every class every day.

 

Jen Behrens, sophomore in Specialized Chemistry.

Jen Behrens, sophomore in Specialized Chemistry.

Jen Behrens

Wauconda, Illinois

Major: Specialized Chemistry

The Daily Illini: What is your favorite memory from your freshman year?

Jen Behrens: I joined a sorority and that has definitely had a big impact on my freshman year. It’s been a very positive experience . . . Also, I got 100 percent on my last Calculus 2 exam. That’s a good memory because I’m very proud of myself for that.

DI: Describe your freshman year in one word.

JB: Eye-opening. That’s in many ways. My academics are hard, and that’s kind of humbling, and that’s eye-opening to me because I went through high school without having to study and got straight A’s.

Also, I went to a Catholic private school my whole life. Because of that, I haven’t been exposed to much diversity . . . but coming here I’ve been very happy with the diversity I’ve seen and the different viewpoints I’ve heard from people.

DI: If you could tell your past self one thing on move-in day, what would you say?

JB: I would say, don’t let anyone else dictate your actions, and make decisions for yourself.

DI: Do you think you’ve changed over the past year, and if so, how?

JB: Yes, I’ve definitely changed a lot. I have learned to be more tough and more blunt. I’m usually the nice girl and slightly passive, I’ve definitely grown to say what I think a lot more . . . and stand up for myself in that way. I’ve also learned to be a lot more independent, do what I want and make decisions for myself.

 

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