by Izaak Garcia

Sometimes a simple “Hello” is all it takes to make a new friend.

I can confidently say that out of all the years I have been in school, the first year of college has passed by the fastest. I don’t really know what made my freshman year fly by me so quickly, I just know that it did. Maybe it was moving halfway across the country to Los Angeles, a city I had never been in before. Or the constant activities and extracurricular groups on campus that swept me up in a whirlwind of business. Or perhaps it was having my own freedom to play as many video games as I wanted for however long I wanted. Obviously, going to college is bigger than just these things, but when I look back on my first year, I can also confidently say that it was a definite success.

There isn’t really a specific formula when it comes to acclimating yourself to a new environment as I had to, so honestly, the best way to go forward is to jump right in. And that was exactly what I did. Well, slowly, at least. I still had to find out where my apartment was, the specific buildings for each of my classes, and most importantly, where to get food. But once I had all that down, I was ready for the big leagues: talking to actual human beings. Talking to the people in my classes and getting to know them was a pretty good start. Where they’re from, what their major is, what they do in their spare time. At first, it can all seem kind of formulaic, like the same three questions come up over and over again whenever you meet someone new. But that’s just how college is, and to be frank, I kind of like it like that. Everybody wants to know what everybody else is doing, and not in a bad way either. People are always looking to collaborate, whether it be in-class projects for a business course, or short films that could be distributed out to film festivals. Personally, I was not expecting that kind of environment at all, but it was a great change of pace, especially since I was one of the tens of thousands of students trying to acclimate themselves to one place. And knowing that, it can become a lot harder to reach out to others, since there are so many people around you. But that’s how you have to start out. Saying hello to someone may not seem like much at first, but I guarantee you, the more you branch out, the more things become available to you. For me, a lot of that happened in the second semester. Asking about productions and clubs students were involved in, lending my talents in sound design for the theater, even producing and acting in short films made by students. The scope of my world broadened before my eyes, and all I had to do was say, “Hello.” 

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

Art by Terri Silva

Terri Silva is a 20-year-old sophomore at Bradley University pursuing a major in Television Arts with a minor in Interdisciplinary Film Studies. For Silva, art is a hobby in addition to a potential career, and she takes it very seriously. Silva thrives when she tells stories in all forms: drawings, films, writings, and more. Silva thinks of herself as a creative mind that wants to share ideas with others, while also taking in what they have to offer as well.

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