This week, we chatted with Maite Garcia, a first-year student at CSU San Marcos. Maite is already proving to be a self-advocate, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come for her in the world of college.

Emma: What were you feeling the week before you started classes?

Maite: The week before classes started I was very nervous. Everyone kept telling and asking me if I was happy, but I didn’t really feel that as I was extremely nervous about not making new friends, or totally not knowing what I was doing. My anxiety was very high that week.

Emma: What were you thinking as you stepped onto campus?

Maite: The commute to school was nerve wracking. I tried playing music that would try and calm me down. I parked and gathered all my books and laptop (just in case) and started walking over to my first class. Walking there [on campus] felt surreal, even though I had already been on campus for orientation and to buy my books. But this time it was real, and it just really hit me that I’m an adult now, that I’m going to school for me. Not for anyone else. And that this would define my future. It was very nerve wracking, and I was getting pretty emotional.

Emma: What classes are you taking?

Maite: Mondays and Wednesdays are my packed days (I have four classes those days). And Fridays are more relaxed. Since I’m undeclared, I’m taking general education classes only. I have a writing class, Women’s studies, American Indian studies, and a class that all first year undeclared students take.

Emma: How has college been the same as or different from your expectations?

Maite: It has been very different from what I imagined. An example, in high school teachers usually hand out a syllabus on the first day of school. You get it signed and turn it back in. In college, you get a syllabus too. But it’s way more important than in high school. I’ve had some professors refer to the syllabus as a “bible.” All your homework is on there & goes there by week & class. I’ve also learned that college is way more chill. Everyone is trying to work on their own thing. If you want to make new friends, you have to be the one to initiate the conversation; otherwise, everyone’s just trying to do their own thing.

Emma: Anything else you’d like to share?

Maite: It’s been a pretty crazy three weeks. But so far, I’ve learned to be more comfortable in class and with the commute down there. I’m also really proud of myself so far for using many of the resources available to me. I’ve used the free printing from one of my clubs, talked to financial aid technicians, and am currently taking advantage of visiting the school psychologist. Although I’m still a little nervous to speak up, or talk to other people, I’m sure a few more weeks in I’ll get more and more comfortable. I hope this year is great!

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Many thanks to Maite for sharing her reflections on the first week of college! She is an exemplar for other first-year (and future) college students as they get acclimated and make the most of the resources around them. Here at Breakthrough, we are excited to continue focusing on our strategic initiative to support students like Maite through college graduation.