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Jonathan Kwong

26 November 2020

First for Everything

Autumn quarter started off with sunshine and dry hot days. At the beginning of the fall quarter, I
got to roam around the UW campus, discovering buildings and all the things that this university
had to offer. While my freshman year experience is different from a typical college freshman
experience, that doesn’t mean it was bad.

The great thing about remote learning is having more time to myself. Whether it’s to reflect on
my academic goals or stress about my courses for the next four years, there was more time to
focus on things that normal freshmen wouldn’t think too much about until sophomore year.
Informational sessions for majors and RSOs were more available. The distance of buildings was
no longer a concern, especially since my schedule didn’t have in-person classes. The freedom of
having less time constraints was amazing.

One of the great things that came out of this quarter was finally settling on a major and feeling
content with it. Before fall quarter, I had circulated through many different majors but didn’t
feel any real connection with them. I came in intending to major in biochemistry only to find
that my interest in chemistry and physics was not as strong as I thought it would. The field of
biochemistry was fun, but the classes that lied within the major didn’t seem right for me.
Conflicted, I attended many informational sessions on majors. At one College of the
Environment session, I learned about the courses and opportunities offered for fall quarter. I
hadn’t previously considered an environmental major, but I was quite interested in the topic, so I
scheduled a session with an adviser. After a lot of great insights and advice, I decided that the
community within the College of the Environment and the courses within ESRM were what I
was looking for the entire time.

Another great thing that came out of this quarter was joining a few RSOs and finding a
community within them. During the virtual RSO fair, I figured that I would take the opportunity
to look into as many RSOs as I could even if I didn’t know anything about them. Anything that
vaguely interested me got on my calendar and to-do list. Freshman year is a time of exploration,
and I think that it was important for me to know all the different communities that UW has to
offer. Whether it’s service RSOs or culture RSOs, I wanted to know how each operated and
whether they seemed like the right fit. Interestingly enough, some of the more obscure ones
tended to be my favorite. These underrated RSOs had a strong sense of community and taught
me many professional development skills. I broke out of my shell of being a shy, unsure
freshman and put myself out there.

This quarter, I learned the importance of getting out of my comfort zone. Whether it’s taking
that step to seek help for an adviser or being the first to make conversation with someone in
breakout rooms, I learned to not let the fear of being uncomfortable hold me back from
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