“As cancer survivor, I am not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of person so finding a place where I feel whole is essential.”
As a second semester freshman at UC Berkeley, I have plenty of advice to impart to my younger counterparts about the college experience. As a blogger on the NCCS Online Community, I have also come to a better understanding of what it means to be a cancer survivor, separate from but integrated with what it means to be Jackson. Thus, I feel better equipped to discuss my college experience from the perspective of a cancer survivor.
However, in reflecting back, I recognize that my positive college experience began with my college decision. Choosing to go to college will be the best and biggest decision of your young life, but choosing the right college will prove to be even more significant. A campus and climate that suits you well will ensure that it is the best place for you to be during the next four-five exciting years of your life. College is a very cool place and I am very happy to be at UC Berkeley. It fits me well and it feels like home; like its ok to exhale. It was not initially my first choice and the idea that I could have ended up at a different university is a bit unsettling. Most of my other college choices were ostensibly good options. They suited me academically, offered an interesting slate of majors and extracurricular activities, and were the right size. However, when I visited Berkeley, I could easily envision myself walking around the campus and interacting with the students that I observed from a distance. I could readily see myself as a Berkeley student. I liked the architecture, the academic halls, the wide array of clubs and teams, and the energy of the campus. I liked the fact that the students bustling across campus did not look the same or dress the same. It felt like my college, my university. I am glad I followed my gut feelings because I am now a fully initiated CAL Bear. I am not marketing Berkeley but simply the idea that it is important to find your college, your university; a place that will be your home away from home. Talk to others about their college experience – your parents, siblings, teachers, doctors, and friends. Visit college campuses that are close to your home to get a sense of what kind of campus you like and, most definitely, visit the campuses of your final choices. Allow yourself to make an informed choice about such an important decision. Do not underestimate the importance of a “good fit.”
As cancer survivor, I am not a “one size fits all” kind of person so finding a place where I feel integrated and whole, is essential. While I was always searching for a sense of belonging, I was not always fully conscious of my pursuit. I stumbled on this realization through blogging and conversing on the NCCS Online Community with people who had common experiences. I saw myself reflected back through the eyes and experiences of other cancer survivors. I felt myself voiced in the concerns that parents had for their children. This helped me develop a better understanding of myself, as a survivor. Thus, I came to realize that having a good fitting college is especially beneficial for me, and perhaps other cancer survivors, because our paths have always diverged from the norm. Finding a place where I fit in without having to pretend or change feels different in a comforting way, being able to exhale and relax is a luxury I never had until now. Go Bears! ©
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