Pursuing My Passions at Illinois

We’re officially six weeks into the semester, which is over 1/3 of the way through! These weeks really flew by, and I still can’t believe how much has changed in this amount of time. I’ll be honest—I came into college believing that this transition was going to be really hard for me. Just a few weeks into the semester, however, I found that I’d settled in with ease. Becoming familiar with a new campus and settling into a routine will happen over time. The true key to a successful transition is to find what makes your campus feel like home. Adapting to college is about so much more than learning how to ace your classes—it’s about pursuing your passions. This isn’t something that will happen immediately, but by exploring classes, hobbies, and even groups of friends that will support what you’re passionate about, your campus will start to feel more and more like a home each day.

Take classes that support your interests.

A lot of people say that your freshman year will be full of gen-ed classes. While this is inevitable, there are ways to fulfill these requirements while taking classes that are genuinely interesting to you. For example, as one of my social studies electives, I’m taking a class called Urban Sustainability. This class is all about the environmental impact of cities, as well as some of the social and economic consequences of these environmental issues. It has ended up being one of my favorite classes because I’m able to learn a new perspective on something I already had an interest in. There are tons of opportunities to take classes that you will enjoy right from the start of your college experience. Adding at least one of these to your schedule will make you a lot more excited about your freshman classes.

Continue your hobbies … and find new ones.

That being said, there is a common misconception among many freshmen that when you live at school, your life also has to revolve around school. That is NOT the case. You probably have a lot of other things you’re passionate about outside of the classroom. Whether that be sports, music, or anything else, you don’t have to give these things up in college. It’s so easy to make time for your hobbies, and it’s important to pursue things that have absolutely nothing to do with your major. I’m an Engineering major, but I also play piano, and one of my biggest concerns about moving into college was that I wouldn’t be able to continue this. Luckily, I had the opportunity to sign up for piano lessons this semester. This means I’m able to continue playing and learning new music, even though I’m not a music major. We all have passions that we can’t live without, so find opportunities to continue growing in these passions and doing what you love to do.

Find your campus “family.”

If you’re an introvert like me, this is one of the more difficult parts of the college transition. However, there are hundreds of opportunities to find groups of people who share your interests. From joining RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) to LLCs (Living Learning Communities), there are countless ways to surround yourself with people who will support your interests. I chose to live in the Sustainability LLC, which has given me a chance to live with people from different majors who share similar interests, and I’ve joined several student groups based around engineering so I can become closer with some of the people who I’ll see in my classes over the next four years. While I’m still in the process of finding my campus “family,” I know that I’m constantly surrounded by supportive people.


Adjusting to college life will take time, and the process is a bit different for everyone. Finding what you’re passionate about and pursuing your interests can make all the difference. A campus becomes your home because you make it home; if you continue your passions, then you’ll find your place. There is something for everyone here, and everyone finds that in their own time, so my advice is this: find what you love, and everything else will come naturally from there.

Abby

Abby

Class of 2023
I'm a Civil and Environmental Engineering major in the Grainger College of Engineering and I hope to one day work to lessen society's impact on the environment. I am a major nerd, have a passion for all things outdoors, and I can't wait to see what new opportunities are in store for my freshman year at University of Illinois!

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