Landing with a Splash: Orientation

By: Laura Romero, Fulfillment Fund Student and Series Guest Blogger

I find myself living in a city I never planned to ever live in. I’m from Los Angeles, California, specifically from East Hollywood. I graduated from Apex Academy High school in June 2021, and am currently attending Columbia University in New York City. My classes at Columbia haven’t started yet, but my schedule consists of classes focusing on gender and sexuality studies, politics, and Hispanic studies.

I arrived at Columbia on August 29th. Today is September 7, and it’s been a week full of laughter, a lot of crying, and the beginning of new friendships. I’ve been to the Brooklyn Bridge, a Mets game, have paid so much money to ride the subway and bus, walked 20 minutes to grab tacos at midnight, and watched as my friend’s dorm got flooded the 4th day of orientation when Hurricane Ida hit through New York. 

New York was never really an option for me throughout high school. I applied to Columbia never expecting to get in and much less thinking I would actually accept the offer because the idea of moving to New York just didn’t feel like me…at the moment. 

Columbia University at night

Coming to Columbia, I didn’t expect to see a wide range of diversity. I’ve met so many individuals from different cultures and it’s been refreshing to meet them because I came with the idea that I was only going to see a specific group of people, considering Columbia’s white history. Columbia has created spaces and meetings for first-generation and low-income individuals to meet one another and I’ve found myself comfortably partaking in these events. 

Currently, we are still living through a pandemic, and at Columbia, we are required to wear masks at all times, but mainly when one is indoors. Mostly everyone that I have encountered has been wearing their masks and most orientation events were in person, so it looks like virtual events will likely occur less and less. 

My classes start in two days and while I still don’t know where most of my classes are located, I can’t wait to begin sharing my academic experiences as a first-generation woman.

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