Growing up, I had the idea that I needed to move hundreds or thousands of miles away from home to find freedom in college. As if it was an essential part to my growth and maturity. I wanted to prove I could make it four years all by myself. This was a right of passage in my young mind and this Southern California girl had her heart set on schools in North Carolina, New York City, and even New Zealand. I wanted an adventure, and it didn’t seem possible unless I was miles away from my home in the humble San Fernando Valley. UCI was not yet in my sights.
So did I accomplish my college dreams? Yes I did, but only because I wanted to rethink my vision. In a few weeks I will be moving on to a campus two hours away from my house, to the beautiful city of Irvine. If you had asked me two years ago what I thought about UC Irvine, I would have told you it was way too close to my house. Honestly, that’s because I did not know a thing about Irvine until I visited last spring to please my parents. I didn’t want to like it! As we walked around campus, I kept reminding myself of my vision of adventure and far away quest for self-discovery. If I told you that I knew it was the school of my dreams right away, I would be seriously lying to you… but saying that UCI is the school of my dreams is very far from a lie.
Here are ten reasons why I could not be more excited to be attending UC Irvine! First I have to say that the UCI Volleyball Program, coaches, and my teammates played a huge part in my decision, however for the purpose of relating to anyone interested in UCI, I am going to talk about my reasons as just a normal student!
(Please remember that these reasons are my own personal experience with the school. Everyone’s experience is different.)
1. Distance from point A (my house) to point B (Irvine).
This was the one thing I disliked about UCI when I first decided to go there. People would ask me what I thought about Irvine and I would say, “I love everything about it! I just wish I could be farther away from home.” But as time passed, my idea of independence and maturity shifted and I no longer continued to associate distance with growing up. It is different for everyone, but I have learned that becoming an adult is about so much more than saying you can do things alone. I think it is about learning how to balance independence and dependence. To be entirely one thing, seems a little unhealthy or unrealistic.
2. I Want to be a “Beach Bum”.
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, getting to the beach was fairly easy, but it was not an extremely frequent treat. When I realized I would be living minutes away from Newport Beach, I was nearly sold! Hearing this seemed like paradise to me. I remember waking up on the warm sand during my official visit with the other incoming volleyball freshman, after a long mid-day nap by the water. I remember in that moment, being entirely overcome with a sense of belonging. This is the moment it became entirely clear that I had made the right decision, and I was headed where I was meant to be.
3. The pride.
UC Irvine is the only school in the entire world with the anteater as its mascot! Everyone knows that it is a little quirky and a lot funny— but that’s what makes UCI students love their school even more. They embrace everything that UC Irvine is, especially Peter the Anteater. I wanted to be a part of that kind of community, one that loves the weird and is glad to be different.
4. Finding balance.
Remember that balance thing I was talking about before? The part about independence verses dependence? Well Irvine is where I know I can be happy practicing these skills. I can continue to mature into adulthood in a safe place with people similar to myself and people who are different. I can explore my independence as I figure out how to get around my freshman year without a car and I can explore the world of working as I apply for some of the hundreds of internships and jobs in the Orange County area. But home is always here, not a long plane ride away, but a simple two hour drive away. It is simple, I have ample access to the family I am super close to, but I have the space to do my own thing. This is my balance.
5. Naps in the park are vital to my serenity.
This may seem kind of funny, but I literally took a nap in the park during day two of Freshman Orientation. I think that nature is a very important part of feeling connected to the world, other people, and yourself. However, research papers, volleyball practice, and visiting teachers’ office hours may keep me on campus rather than on one of Irvine’s many hiking trails. This is why Aldrich Park is so special. A lot of college campuses have park spaces but not with such perfect accessibility. Irvine’s campus was specifically designed to work around its perfect and undisturbed park. Think of the campus as a cell and Aldrich Park as the nucleus, you can get to it quickly from anywhere on campus!
6. I get the opportunity to cheer on new teams.
Without the sparkle and shine of a college football team, UCI gives me a greater opportunity and heavy encouragement to support their wide variety of Division 1 sports. This is not true for many schools, but sometimes the attention goes more towards football because… well its college football, and personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, because many people want that! However Irvine is not that place, and I love that, because it gives me a greater desire to go to Water Polo games or cheer on Baseball. I am highly encouraged to watch tennis, and experience a track meet!
7. I simply love the business school.
I am a Business Administration major, and when I found out I got into the Paul Merage School of Business, my eyes filled with tears and my legs felt weak. Dramatic, I know, but also honest! All of Irvine’s schools are prestigious and a real privilege to be a part of. I love that the entire university is a connected community, and each school has created its own little inclusive community. I remember random trips down to Irvine for volleyball when I would find myself walking the halls of the new Business building and praying that I could be a part of something so special. That is what every school in Irvine is, something incredible special.
8. I know that I am never alone.
At orientation, I was nervous about making friends and worrying about first impressions. Luckily, I knew a few people going to the two day orientation, but it was only natural that I began to doubt myself anyway.
When night time came, I was sitting on the floor in a circle with my follow residence hall students answering the question I pulled out of a hat in the center of the room. When I was asked to describe my idea of a perfect date to everyone and my fears shrunk away as we all laughed together about my imaginary boyfriend and I cooking food together while watching awesome independent films all night. I realized that it didn’t really matter whether or not they agreed with my answer or if they even liked it, they welcomed me and respected what I had to say because they could see that I was trying to be myself, and that’s all they wanted. I am accepted at UCI and I am wanted, just as I am.
9. Eating is now a problem…
Many students beginning college are warned about the Freshman 15. Many times the problem of gaining weight your freshman year is a result of the unregulated eating of food that is not very good for you. My personal problem is not that Irvine’s food tastes bad or is bad for me, quite the contrary actually! My problem is that I love the food too much. Even though UCI does an amazing job at providing its students with quality, healthy foods, I still need to worry about those fifteen pounds because I cannot stop eating! This is a fantastic problem to have in the grand scheme of life, but I do need help…
10. My current and future living situation.
Now this one is entirely personal to me but I needed to add it anyway because it has played such a big role in why I chose UCI and why I love it to death. Living away from home for the first time is a pretty big deal, and while I know I am more than capable of doing it, everything becomes just a bit (or a lot) easier when you love where you live. I love that I get to live in the new Mesa Towers my freshman year and in a beach house my sophomore through senior year! Knowing that I can be in such amazing housing all four years of college, makes my transition feel very smooth! I know how lucky I am to get to live in Southern California at all, soaking up the warm rays nearly all year long.
Why did you choose to go to UCI? Comment below and share the article!
Featured photo source: latimes.com
Nicole is an eighteen year old writer from Southern California. When not writing, she is cooking, reading, or hiking in Malibu. A freshman at the University of California, Irvine, Nicole plans on double majoring in Business Administration and Literary Journalism. One day she will be the editor in chief of Self Magazine and will live in New York City with her three mini pigs.