My First Impressions of Illinois: Welcome Days Edition

I’ve officially experienced my first Welcome Days on campus, and I can’t help but think back to this summer when I was a (nervous) prospective student. I remember attending an Admitted Student Day asking my burning questions to student panels and listening to endless presentations. I’m not going to lie: Sometimes I wondered, is this school really who they say they are?  

Welcome Days hosts fun events for new and returning students on campus. The main objective of this week is for students to attend activities, meet their peers, and get settled before classes are in session. To me, this past week was about solidifying my understanding of what campus has to offer.

Let’s test and see if the university’s claims last summer match my first impressions of campus so far:

  1. Illinois values inclusivity. The diverse population at Illinois was something I didn’t expect before I stepped foot on campus. My preconceived notion stemmed from the myth that “Everyone I’ll meet will be a Chicago native.” However, my low expectations were offset by the remarkable diversity of the student body, and that’s just from the freshmen alone! In just one week, I’ve met students from New York, Shanghai, and even Sweden. The number of minority and international student RSOs and clubs also took me by surprise, some of which being the Polish and Filipino student associations. Not to mention living in a Catholic residential building, I’ve been accepted and appreciated for my differences in beliefs and values. My dining hall’s chef has even made accommodations for my religious dietary restrictions! I’ve been impressed by how much the school integrates inclusivity by catering to various ethnicities, religions, and races!
  2. Illinois wants you to aim high. When I was a prospective student, I remember listening to a speaker discuss Illinois’ idea of “and.” He mentioned that the school encourages its students to study and explore whatever they choose. Indeed, students must select a major, but the sky’s the limit. This “and” principle became clear to me once I attended New Student Convocation, a welcome ceremony that marks the beginning of the Illinois experience. One of the alums majored in three different areas of study (a superhuman) and expressed how important it is to expand your academic horizons. He emphasized how he accomplished the unexpected by being ambitious. Additionally, Welcome Days puts on events that are college specific. For example, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosted an LAS Expo for current students to ask questions to LAS interns, leaders, and even professors. It’s safe to say that my first impression was nothing short of great because of the school’s overwhelming support toward student academic achievement!

    A view of new student convocation at the State Farm Center
    Credit: Google Images  
  3. Illinois fosters innovation and creativity. If you’ve visited the University of Illinois in Chambana, you’ve probably heard of the Squirrel-Watching Club (yes, it’s legit). The Squirrel-Watching Club is just one example of how Illinois is open and willing to turn hobbies and ideas into established groups and projects students desire. Quad Day, a day dedicated for students to check out school organizations, definitely reflects how the school cultivates innovation and creativity. As I walked through the Main Quad, there were a spectrum of groups for pre-med, martial arts, robotics, chess, and even improv! Most of these clubs expect no prior experience or skills from its members. The importance for students to find a refreshing outlet that feeds their creative and innovative side is well recognized!

Welcome Days Memorabilia

Quad Day:

Credit: Google Images

The line for the register @ the Illini Union Bookstore the day before classes (yikes!):

Credit: Yours truly

A snippet of Illinois Sights and Sounds: a Welcome Days event that introduces students to the traditions of the university, coaches from many intercollegiate athletics teams, and the classic “Block I” class photo!

Credit: Yours truly

I guess Illinois doesn’t lie.

Don’t hesitate to leave questions about Welcome Days and suggestions for future blog posts in the comment section below!

Welcome Class of 2022!




Class of 2022
My major is Molecular and Cellular Biology (more commonly and lovingly known as MCB) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I'm on the pre-med track—I’ve dreamed of becoming a doctor since I could spell the word!