Author: John Garcia

Closing Up An Era

“Enjoy it, your next four years are going to be the best years of your life.”

Gansbaai, Cape Town, South Africa
Gansbaai, Cape Town, South Africa

I’m sure we’re all familiar with that line by now. For some of us, it was one of the main reasons we were so excited to graduate high school and move on to the next step. For others, it was the driving force behind all of those sleepless nights filled with partying and friends.  In my case, for a while every time I heard that line it would only instill a sense of fear of what’s to come after college and everything downhill from there. Luckily, I’ve come to the realization that accepting college as my peak is simply pathetic.

I’m not saying that these college years can’t be your best – far from it actually – all I’m saying is that these have been the best years of my life SO FAR. The memories that I have created at UConn will carry on with me for the rest of my life and even though UConn has given me five amazing years, I can’t wait to see what’s to come. This school has taught me so much, like the fact I’m not a morning person and to not trust anyone who tells you they’re your “best friend” on a Thursday night at Huskies, but most importantly it has taught me who I really am and who I want to become.

College Ambassadors hayride
College Ambassadors hayride

So many people think that as soon as you graduate, life is over. From that moment on it’s only bills, mortgage, and a boring job, but that’s so far from the truth. Life is just beginning. If I were to give any advice to the incoming class it would be to start looking at college as a stepping-stone to your ultimate goal. Whether you want to become a middle school teacher, travel the world, find the cure for every imaginable disease or all of the above, college is just one step in that journey. During your time in college you’ll have the training wheels bolted on your bike, but as soon as you walk that stage with a degree in hand it’ll be time to start pedaling.

Don’t worry; you haven’t hit your peak yet. You’re not even close. You have the rest of your life ahead and it all begins on graduation day. At that point it’ll be time to go. Time to do. Time to pedal.

Why it is Okay to be Unsure

When it came time to start college, I found myself a little lost about which major to go with.  Being Pre-Med I thought I had to go the traditional biology or chemistry route. I realized that I wasn’t that passionate for either of those options and the stress began to pile up. It felt like I was making a life or death decision. What I didn’t know at the time was that there were several majors and tracks out there for me to follow which all could lead me to my ultimate goals. I was lucky enough to hear about Allied Health Sciences from one of my coworkers and as soon as I read up on it I knew it was the right fit for me. For some of you that are currently stressing over the different potential majors, there’s one thing I can tell you: It’ll all be okay!

Assisting a surgical procedure while studying abroad in South Africa.

UConn has amazing counselors and advisors that will make this decision much easier. They take the time and will walk you through the stressful parts and ease your tension. Since they have helped hundreds of students that have been in your position, they’re well versed in what you need and what you’re feeling. While some stress and anxiety during this process is normal and expected, you have to recognize that this is not a make it or break it decision. The reason for this is that most majors require the same general education courses. While you’re taking those – usually during your first two years – you have a chance to explore the different options and find the right fit for you. You can do all of this without disturbing your planned time table in college. Everyone’s experience will not be the same – you wouldn’t want it to be anyway. Your interests and passions might change over time and all you can do is accept it and go with it.  Just understand that there is room for thing to change!

The initial college plan that I had my freshman year was not even close to what it turned out to be. In my head, I was going to graduate in 4 years and start medical school right away. Five years later, I’m still here (graduating May 7th!) but I’ve taken advantage of everything UConn had to offer me. I’ve made friends that will remain with me for life, joined a frat and even got to study abroad twice! Life – especially college life – is full of surprises. Plan A might not always work out, but don’t worry Plan B tends to be much better.

Study Abroad: A New Way to Look at Home

Garcia Study Abroad 2

In high school, I came across a Mark Twain quote that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. He said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” It was then that I realized that if I wanted to be knowledgeable on humanity and the many different cultures around the world, there was no way for me to fully understand them unless I was there to experience them first-hand. Therefore, I decided to spend my summer in a Neuroscience program in Salamanca, Spain, not only enriching my academics but also changing my outlook on what it means to be a global citizen.

As I was preparing for my departure, Continue reading