Life is a struggle, including college. Growing up I had always heard that the best years of your life are in college. I hope this isn’t true because I hope every year is better than the next. As of right now, my time at the University of Connecticut was full of ups and downs these past four years.
I came to UConn in 2019, expecting many things for myself like being in honor classes and having straight A’s. However, college is not like high school at all. You might have been a straight-A student or wanted to be in high school, but you’re most likely not going to be like that in college. It’s a hard pill to swallow and believe me, it’s hard, but you have to keep on going. I was so focused on my grade my first semester I didn’t make friends. Of course I talked to people, but in the spring of 2020, you never expect a pandemic to ruin your chances of making friends in college.
My sophomore year was a blur because of online classes and quarantine. Quarantine was hard for us all. Speaking for my experience, I barely had friends and was living with my family. It was lonely, but online classes pushed us all to connect. Through Zoom, Discord and breakout rooms, everyone was seeking a chance to talk to one another. I think the shift towards online learning pushed me to talk to my professors and other classmates.
Junior year was when we all came back to campus with masks on. It was all very interesting. I remember buying colorful masks to wear to school only to find everyone wearing those black disposable ones. They went with every outfit, so I understood. I think that was the year I pushed myself to make friends. I wanted those long-lasting friendships that you hear everyone talk about. I hung out with people at the library, the bookstore Starbucks and the Islamic Center of UConn. I regularly went to club meetings and events like the Law Society and Muslim Student Association (MSA).
I always wanted to be a part of The Daily Campus. As a child, my dad would buy my late grandfather an Urdu newspaper to read every day. It was hard to find, but my dad would go to a local South Asian store to buy a copy. I remember those days fondly. My father had a monthly New York Times and National Geographic Magazine subscription that would be stacked on the living room floor.
Truthfully, I love talking to people. I didn’t realize this until I was active in MSA. My goal for this club was to create a sense of community on the Storrs campus. I would talk and make friends with so many people because of my experience at MSA. The experience pushed me out of my comfort zone until it became my comfort zone.
Taking constitutional and journalism law classes opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. I fell in love with my political science degree and wanted to pursue more journalism classes. I took JOUR 2000W in the fall of 2022 and felt like I was confident in writing for The Daily Campus newspaper. It also helped that my friend Aiza Shaikh was an active reporter and encouraged me to come to the meetings. I submitted the first piece that I wrote for my JOUR 2000W class. Professor Mike Stanton even mentioned my story in class and said it was a great debut. I felt this massive encouragement from my friends and my professor to continue. Seeing the smile on my hardworking father’s face after he read a copy of my column was the best feeling in the world. I felt like I have made him and my grandfather proud.
The moral of my college story is that you should pursue whatever makes you happy — it’s simple but true. I followed whatever people thought about me living on the edge of everyone else’s happiness. It’s a stressful life to live for others and gain nothing in return. I think back on how different I was during my first year and who I am now. Sometimes I would go and pursue a club or a major and find that I hated it. That’s okay, some things are not for everyone, but what matters is how we move forward.