“Solving for (Wh)y”


I can’t decide what’s more stressful: applying to college or actually getting there. I’m starting to think that studying for the ACT was better than arguing about the price of bath towels with my mom in the back of a Kohl’s department store. After years of reading Young Adult novels about the summer before the freshman year of college, I had hoped that these months would involve making my perfect dorm room Pinterest board come to life, taking cliché Polaroid photos, and saying good-bye to math class forever. It turns out that not remembering those exponent rules that seemed so easy in eighth grade algebra really comes back to bite you when taking the placement exam…. Yikes.

An endless stream of people has been asking me “Why Madison? Why that major?” since this year started, and I’m still figuring out how to answer that question. If I thought solving for y was difficult on the test, somehow it was even more difficult in real life. Out of the thousands of us freshies (frosh? What is the least embarrassing name we can call ourselves?), I hope I’m not the only one who has been secretly saying “My name is Izzy, I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a fun fact about me is…” to themselves in the mirror. I’m going to take this time to practice. If you’re reading this and we have class together next fall, do me a favor and don’t tell anyone I memorized my “fun” facts ahead of time, okay?

So far, I’m thinking about majoring in political science. People tend to equate this with watching a lot of House of Cards, but the irony is that I was too busy doing AP Government and Politics homework to watch more than four episodes during the school year. I’m additionally interested in international relations and journalism, which also ties into my Netflix habits: The Documentaries section and I are pretty good friends. On days off, though, my guilty pleasure is stand-up comedy specials with comedians like Hasan Minhaj and Trevor Noah.  I’d like to try and apply my anticipated majors outside of the classroom, by joining the Model United Nations team or a student publication, neither of which were opportunities I had at my high school.

During the week, it seems fairly easy to let go of: high school. After all, there are countless graduation parties to attend, work hours to be completed, and new albums to listen to. However, when the less appealing jobs have to be done, like cleaning out the worksheets crumpled at the bottom of my backpack, it can be harder to forget. On the way to a party a few weeks ago, I remember wishing that the upperclassmen had reminded us more not to take our high school years for granted when we were freshmen. I think that one of the best parts of going to college is that everything is changing – but it is also one of the worst parts, too. Thinking about not knowing my school like the back of my hand like I do now is strange. I know what teachers give presents to students on their birthdays, and which ones you should never show up late to class for. I would say I know the shortest ways to get to class as well, but my friends haven’t stopped making fun of me since I showed up to the wrong hour of geometry once (freshman year, I might add). That leads me to another fun fact: I am definitely directionally challenged. Does anyone know if the MyUW app uses data? Because that is going to be getting a lot of use from me if I want to get to class on time.

That’s me in the gold Hamilton: An American Musical graduation cap next to a few of my best friends from high school.

If I’m being honest, getting lost isn’t my only worry (though it is in my top five, filed under: anxiety, college related). It feels like a big step to say this in an article, but I’m a first-generation college student from a single parent family. Everything college related is a huge step for me, because I really have no idea what to expect. I’ve already joined the Center for Educational Opportunity, which is a resource center for first generation, low income, and/or disabled students at UW-Madison and seems really awesome. I plan to talk more about my experiences with them in future blog posts, but related to that, I’m worried about not finding friends that can relate to my situation, or “finding my niche” at all. The first friend I made in high school likes to remind me that the first thing I said to her was “Ugh, you’re one of those people” after she told me she likes pineapple on her pizza. I swear I’m not Regina George…and I hope my social skills have improved since freshman year!

It took all of us recent graduates about twenty minutes to figure out how to get into position for this cool 2017 photo, as demonstrated by whatever is happening in the picture above. As you can probably guess, I’m the one in the black dress (clearly ready for my close-up).

Just like everyone else, I want people to eat breakfast with (right inside my residence hall, heck yeah Liz Waters). However, I’m also looking forward to finding my “real” people: someone to be the Burr to my Hamilton when it comes to badly sung duets, people who will go to Badger hockey games with me, and those hallmates who will coerce me to place an Insomnia Cookies order at 12 AM. My #UWSOAR experience isn’t until the very end of June, so I won’t talk about that until next time; but I hope to meet some of those people at upcoming events this summer. If any of this sounded interesting, or you’re as nervous as I am; feel free to connect with me on social media. See you around!

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