Freshman experience brings challenges, growth


Gabriella Neurock, Lifestyle Editor

All throughout high school, the thought of college was not something that really crossed my mind.

My parents encouraged my sisters and I to pursue higher education because they never attended college, but school was always a struggle for me. I never thought I would be able to find a career path I was passionate about, and I actually had a plan to take a gap year and use my savings to travel alone for the first time in my life.

Eventually, after seeing a lot of my friends accepted to various universities, I felt like getting a degree would probably be the smartest option, even if it wasn’t what I wanted. Little did I know it was to be the best decision I have ever made.

Without giving myself the opportunity to be a student here at Whitewater, I don’t think I would be who I am today, and I would be completely lost. I have grown so much in many different aspects, whether it be my work ethic or overall motivation, and without taking advantage of the opportunities presented to me, I probably would not have lasted a full year here.

The first week away from home was the hardest of all. I felt completely isolated from everyone and everything, especially after coming from such a small hometown. Everyone that I went to high school with I grew up with, so we were all close. I could not go anywhere in town without seeing someone I knew, and my town was one of those where everybody would be at the high school on Fridays for a football game.

Not only that, but this was my first time really being away from my family, especially my two sisters who were the people that I did literally everything with. Going our separate ways to school was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. With this being my background, college was a major adjustment and not being able to recognize anybody was terrifying. I tried to hide the fact that I was homesick, and was looking for absolutely anything to get involved, but did not know where to start. My roommate, Allison, seemed pretty dead-set on joining a sorority, while I on the other hand did not think it was the right choice for me. However, I went with her to the info night so she didn’t have to go alone. What started as just tagging along ended up being a life-changing experience. Not only did the whole recruitment process help Allison and I become best friends, but I also found my home and my amazing UW-W sisters through Greek life. Without Allison, I honestly would have dropped out of college before the first semester was even finished. She has been my rock throughout this whole experience, and the fact that we have been able to lean on each other throughout the hard times in college and celebrate the good times really helped me realize that I have found my best friend in life, which is something I may have never found if I did not get involved and step outside of my comfort zone.  

I also ended up applying to be the Lifestyle Editor for the Royal Purple. Although I had zero work experience with journalism, I wanted to see if this would be a field I enjoyed working in. To be honest, when I first started the job, I hated it, mainly because everyone around me seemed to be really intelligent and had years of experience under their belt, while I was severely lacking. If I did not have to coworkers that I do at the RP, I’m not sure that journalism would be my major. Everyone that I have met here has been nothing but supportive of me and what I do, and I could not be more grateful for them. I also would never have met Ben and Jack, who I consider two of the closest friends I’ve ever had. I owe a ‘thank you’ to these guys for always making me feel more confident not only in my work, but also in who I am as a person. I can always count on you guys to make a Taco Bell run at 2 a.m. and make me laugh until my stomach hurts. Not only did the RP bring me an amazing core of friends and support, I also was presented a freelance writing opportunity at the Watertown Daily Times – which is typically not a job that I thought I would be able to do as only a freshman, so I am grateful for that opportunity as well.

Despite the few bumps in the road, my freshman experience was very rewarding. I have met so many amazing people that I cannot wait to continue experiencing life with, and am now excited for the career path that I have chosen and what the future is going to look like for me. In order to be a successful college student, I learned that you need to be willing to give yourself the extra push, go out of your comfort zone and try things your mind is telling you that you’re not capable of, and that will make you the happiest. I have grown to be more confident and positive person, and I cannot wait to see what the next three years have in store for me.