First impressions of Union College life from a first-year

Ashlesha Bhagat, Contributing Writer

After three years of COVID-19, I was filled with an immense sense of relief when it was finally confirmed that my first year of college wouldn’t be online. Despite all the changes we have gone through, I can have the true “college experience.” Personally, I spent a long time choosing a college, and Union stood up to many of my expectations. Here, I’ll review each aspect of my first-year experience so far: orientation, campus, food, classes, housing, and clubs.

First: orientation. The effort faculty and students put into making the best experience for us was evident. Within a week of landing in the US, I have memories that I will never forget. Furthermore, as an international student, it meant even more for me to be comfortable here, otherwise Union would not be the home I envisioned for myself. I got to try new activities and meet new people. The OLs and OAs were approachable and friendly. Despite this, I was not able to enjoy the orientation to the fullest, due to tiredness from the jetlag as well as the daily activities. Move-in was too short to give students enough rest so I believe that a longer move-in would give students time to recover from jetlag, and make orientation an even better experience.

Campus was smaller than expected but beautiful! I am a big fan of greenery so I immediately fell in love with the campus. Waking up to see foliage around me always makes my day better. Whether you are a senior, first-year or faculty, one can never get enough of the Nott. I am sure since coming here, I have taken one picture daily of the Nott. At first, I got lost everyday, but it’s getting better. Easy access to the wide variety of facilities makes my experience here better.

Food: as a vegetarian, I have fewer options. I would definitely recommend adding more options. Is the food really this sweet or am I just too used to savory and spicy food? The Garlic Nott is a blessing to the campus, along with the pasta section in Upper and the Deli in West. I am excited to go to Rathskellar, which reopened earlier this week.

Classes: As a STEM major, I don’t get many writing assignments. My professors have been really welcoming, and the small class sizes ensure interactive learning and active discussion. I was surprised that, unlike in high school, people participate in discussions. Since I am in introductory courses, the subject matter has been fairly easy to understand. 

Housing: Having friends in other residence halls, I have heard a lot about each building and understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. To be honest, I love my room in Richmond. It’s quiet and the people on my floor are nice. But a major issue I have with the washrooms is that the showers don’t have a real door, just a curtain for privacy. I believe students should have more say over how their residence halls are constructed.

Lastly, clubs! One of my favorite things about Union is the various clubs offered. Each student can find at least one club to which they feel they belong, and creating a new club is always an option. I joined so many clubs during the Club Expo. It wasn’t my brightest decision but all the meetings I have attended were fun, and the people have been welcoming. I have been able to talk about my interests and find new ones as well.