Avoiding pressure to live up to the USD ideal
There is no doubt that changing schools and stepping out of one’s comfort zone can be a daunting task. Whether you’re a freshman or transfer student, the process of becoming acquainted and comfortable with the people and new surroundings at USD is no easy thing.
Some might have a certain image of the student body in mind before even stepping foot on campus. These preconceived notions can be anything from students having a certain look, to the ways in which students interact with each other and relate to their peers.
As a transfer student coming from a smaller, private two-year college, I can say that although I’ve only been here a short time, the process of becoming comfortable on campus and with others has been difficult. From my observations, it seems as though people are significantly more independent and extremely studious, focused on achieving goals not only academically but socially as well. Being surrounded by this type of atmosphere can pressure incoming students to act in similar ways in order to “fit in” and feel like part of the student body.
Nicole Garza, a transfer student this semester, has spent a great deal of time reflecting on her ongoing transition.
“Transferring to USD as a junior, I expected to have a bit of a hard time fitting in and making friends, but I never expected it to be this difficult” Garza said. “I still feel like I’m walking around someone else’s school and haven’t quite found my place and solid group of friends on campus yet.”
For other transfer students who have had a bit more time to get situated into the Torero lifestyle, circumstances may be different. Junior Katie Bubnack transferred from Miramar College last spring and seems to have had a much smoother transition.
“I think USD students are nice and welcoming” Bubnack said. “Being a transfer, the difference between the college I attended previously and this school is night and day. There are so many things to get involved with here, so finding your niche or group of people is easy. I don’t think there is much pressure to conform. Students here can have any experience they want, they just have to go out and make it happen.”
For freshmen, experiences can vary for different reasons. For instance, they are given various activities and group exercises during orientation that allow them to become acquainted with one another and the school.
For transfers and international students, however, it may be more difficult since there are fewer incoming transfers than there are incoming freshman. While transfers may feel more pressure to fit into the stereotype of the typical USD student, freshmen seem to have a different outlook on the ideal portrayed here on campus. In fact, many freshmen have rather positive feedback on their observations so far.
“USD students are portrayed as welcoming and friendly. Thus, freshmen are also influenced to act helpful and considerate to their fellow Torero’s” Polis said.
From another perspective, freshman Ainsley Heffel had the transition of starting her freshman year and also, being an international student from Canada.
“As an international freshman student, I have felt surprisingly included and very welcome” Heffel said. “From the beginning, everyone was so friendly and I made friends easily. I have felt no pressure personally but I can see how some may feel pressure to dress or act a certain way to not steer from the norm. However, I feel that the people here are very welcoming to everyone. So far it has been an amazing experience and I haven’t doubted my decision for a second.”
While every school has its good and bad qualities, there is no denying that the motivation of the students to succeed not only academically, but socially as well is extremely admirable.
Although it is still early in the semester to determine a set view of life as a Torero, I think we can all agree that it takes a good amount of time and a lot of patience to adapt to a new environment, no matter where you go. Everyone’s experiences vary depending on circumstances, but it is important to remain hopeful that life as a Torero is a great one.
If you find yourself lost and yearning to become a bigger part of USD, just wait. Stay true to yourself but take that extra leap of faith to get involved, be friendly and be patient. Eventually the right people will come along and things will begin to fall into place. You chose this school for a reason and the experience you get here is ultimately up to you.