I can feel it to my very core that I belong here. I am meant to be attending St. Edward’s University. I believe that that feeling is rare yet possible. Through orientation I was told again and again of all the opportunities that would present themselves to me. I was told to take on my world. The campus was familiar because of the size; it felt a bit like high school, where you often see familiar faces but also new ones. The diversity astounded me, and I knew this is what I wanted. I gain new perspectives of the world around me, not only in the classroom but in everyday conversations with a friend from Africa, Afghanistan or even McAllen, Texas. St. Edward’s environment has shaped my learning in the best way possible. My classes range from around 14 to 20 people and hold a lot of discussion and creating connections to the world and people around us.

My first semester I took Intro to Social Work, and it has widened my eyes more than I can sometimes comprehend, as well as reaffirmed me that I want to be a social worker one day and make a difference. A class solely on black and white photography was challenging but fun and got me to explore Austin. This semester I learned and gained knowledge instead of memorizing facts as I did in high school. I almost feel as if high school was harder than college is for me at the moment. Back home I was overwhelmed with everyday classes, extracurricular activities, family obligations, and social events. My schedule was so tight and held so little room to even maneuver through it. Here I have so much more freedom and I think that has a lot to do with the responsibility of balancing my own time and being away from home. In Austin I am here for school and that is my priority. I had to adjust to an entirely new routine because I am able to create a schedule of classes that allows time for me to work, volunteer and hang out with friends. It is not that I am doing less here than I was back home. I feel as though I can focus more on school and have the flexibility to accomplish all that I desire and I feel that I needed the new perspective of living in a different state to do that.

Overall I have enjoyed my college experience so far. I am not one to say there weren’t any bumps on the road in the semester either. Being away from home was extremely difficult. I feel as though venturing to a new and foreign city was the easiest part, yet it was the act of leaving all I had ever known behind that was hard. My heart ached to not be able to physically see my family all that often. When I visited for breaks, I would miss Austin and my friends and my freedom but also never wanted to leave again. I missed home before I would even leave. I could only talk to family and friends over the phone. At times, I did feel alone and grew homesick to the point of tears, but not once did I think that moving to Austin was a bad decision. The transition from high school to college was a rocky one emotionally, but if I had to do it all over again I would.

I have met some of my best friends here. I have developed so many skills, have traveled to so many more places than I have before and I wouldn’t have done a multitude of those things in only one semester if I hadn’t gone to St. Ed’s. I have learned not only more about the world and others around me, but about myself. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am continuously growing and finding myself. Not only through simple acts of attending classes and bonding with friends, but through complex situations such as volunteering at an elementary school with young Syrian refugees. I have found my passion in helping others. Not only in my challenges or proudest moments but in my ever growing thoughts I have found that I am truly where I am meant to be. I hope to continue learning and growing over my time here at St. Ed’s and to graduate in 2020 with a degree in Social Work in order to become the best version of myself and contribute to the world around me. Finally, I hope to inspire my little sisters and peers with my story as a first generation college student.