Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New to UT Dallas? Join the Club

By Joanne Nguyen, EPPS Freshman

New experiences can be pretty unsettling, and downright scary. Being a college freshman going into their first ever semester at a huge university and trying to navigate your way through school, while making the grade, making new friends, and maintaining close family ties can be pretty frightening for any young adult fresh out of high school. It certainly was for me upon stepping into my first college classroom for my first-ever lecture, along with all the other obstacles that came along with the new 'uni life' I had to get accustomed to. 

As someone who graduated from high school with honors and a pretty solid work ethic, keeping up with my GPA while in college wasn't as big of a concern with me as fitting in socially somewhere was to be honest. I knew my grades would be taken care of, but what would happen to my (nonexistent) social life now that I was here on a campus of about 20,000 students with the challenge and task of finding enriching people to be around?

UT Dallas is a very peaceful campus, the student body is overall very well behaved and you hardly ever hear anyone causing a scene or making a ruckus, which I think is wonderful. Coming from an inner city high school, the new surroundings I'm subjected to are just great. The only downfall- and after talking to many students who also agree, is that making friends can sometimes be difficult with how studious and shy the student body tends to be. With everyone focused in class on the professor and the lecture, meeting people in your own classes becomes a little difficult as well (unless you just happen to be a very outgoing person). 

For many students, clubs and organizations are a fun extracurricular activity that fosters their interests and allows for them to be around peers who also enjoy the same things and share similar interests. With UT Dallas home to about 200 student clubs and organizations (and growing) it's safe to say that there is a club out there on campus for just about everyone and every interest. If anything, it might be difficult just choosing which clubs to stick with and commit to seeing as there are so many wonderful ones available.

As for me, my loyalty has gone to UT Dallas' Japanese Student Association. I initially went to their first general meeting in order to see what this club had to offer and to connect with my Japanese roots, and found myself in very good, welcoming company. Not only were the members and officers of JSA very friendly and warm people overall, they also display wonderful organizational skills and the entire club has a very 'family' oriented feeling to it as opposed to some of the larger and more impersonal clubs on campus. 

The Japanese Student Association aims to introduce Japanese culture to UT Dallas and promote awareness of Japanese heritage, they regularly put on performances, attend volunteering events, participate in fund raising, and do many fun, social activities together to foster a bond between its members and much much more. 

They will continue to have me as a loyal member and I plan on sticking with this organization until I graduate and would highly recommend that other students pay JSA a visit when they have weekly general meetings. If anything, I would also highly recommend that any student who is not a part of at least one school organization should make an effort to be, in order to enrich themselves. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

UT Dallas Dorms are a Pleasant Surprise

By Hope Steffensen, EPPS Freshman

Privacy isn’t one of the things I thought I would discover when I came to college. It’s not something one thinks of in the typical college experience. Being from a family of six, privacy never was a common occurrence in my house. So, when I looked into coming to the University of Texas at Dallas, I was extremely surprised to learn that there were private bedrooms in the freshman suite.

All the other colleges I’d looked into had pretty terrible freshman housing. A freshman dorm room was a cramped little space with two beds shoved in the corners for a couple of poor freshman to cram into with all of their belongings. You also had to provide your own furniture, providing you could fit it in.

When I saw the UT Dallas dorm, I was sort of shocked and asked the person giving the tour if this was the set-up in all the dorms. The tour-guide was a little embarrassed, but he answered, “I know it isn’t the best set-up now, but when you’re a junior and a senior, you can move into the suites.”

Hearing that, I sarcastically thought, “Oh yes, don’t worry about the small rooms darling. It will only be for half of your undergraduate experience, so it is no big deal.” I liked other universities I visited, but the rooming was unacceptable.  When I told my dad about the freshman dorms at UT Dallas, he was sold even before I was. “You have to go there!” he exclaimed. “You’re going to love the privacy.” And, sure enough, my dad was right.

It is so convenient to have my own space here in college. The fully furnished room gives me my own dresser, my own desk and chair and my own closet space. I love it. I can have my blinds open and closed when I want because no one is there to complain about it being too light or dark. I don’t have to share my desk or dresser space. In my bedroom, it is all about what I want and when I want it. I have autonomy, and that is something the freshman college experience should be all about.