It’s hard to believe how fast my first year of college flew by! This past year has been filled with new memories, that I couldn’t get elsewhere. I remember just a year ago when I wasn’t sure what to expect when arriving on campus for the first time because I haven’t visited in person. But once I arrived there a week before school began, I was surprised to see how small the campus was. It was convenient for me since I would be using my powered wheelchair to travel between classes which I appreciated.
As the first couple of months went by, I discovered how quiet the campus is, which made it easy to focus. I also realized that the student body was very diverse; it was as if I were attending an international school because it seemed like there were more international students than in-state students. It made me feel at home with how diverse Hawai’i already is! What makes our campus different from the others is the dorms are like apartments without a full kitchen. Each apartment has four rooms (with a microwave and fridge in each), two bathrooms, a dryer and washer, a living room, and a kitchen area with a sink and cabinets (no stove). I am truly thankful that we had all of these amenities, especially the laundry and dryer which made life so much easier! As for my roommates, I would say I got super lucky to have lived with them! We got close very quickly and would always be together, and we almost became inseparable. We would always be sure to check on each other when we aren’t feeling well or under stress with school and help each other out no matter what! We became our own little family for a while.
Additionally, academics itself was a little more easygoing than I thought. My professors were very flexible with my accommodations and understanding. Since my campus was small, the average class size was around 25-30 students. There are only four big lecture halls that could fit just over 110 students, but even then it didn't seem that big. They were mostly used for general classes such as biology and chemistry lectures. Everything was a walkable distance, no more than seven minutes between buildings and the dorms. Many students would leave five to ten minutes from the dorm before class and wouldn't be late. As for extracurriculars, there weren't many clubs of interest or many clubs at all. But I did manage to join the Photography Club and Disability Awareness Club. Though we didn't get to do many incentives for either, I hope this year will be a better turnout!
Now we have the weather....bipolar PA weather. It was blue skies with no clouds most days and pretty warm for the east coast. They had an abnormal fall and winter season. The temperature began to drop around Halloween when it reached the 40s, which I heard was a little early to get cold, and when December came around it stayed within 38 deg. on average until the end of January. I was prepared for the brutal cold and snow, but nope! The cold was manageable; just two layers were fine and I wore a T-shirt with a puffer jacket most days. My body got used to the cold pretty quickly that it didn't bother me enough to stop using slippers! We only got one actual snow day, and the rest of winter was just cold winds. The temperature began to rise again around February to March, back up to the 80s. I feel like Pennsylvania weather does have a mind of its own just like Hawai'i, minus the humidity, so I enjoyed the rainy days there a bit! The rain never lasted for more than two hours and would be completely clear again afterward.
Lastly, now I’m in the presence of nearing the end of my summer. Since coming back home, I’ve had to deal with a few health issues due to my arthritis as I suddenly began to experience more flare-ups. Last month, I visited my orthopedic doctor and had to take a steroid shot in my left hip and knee where I was experiencing the most pain. The shot acts as a numbing medicine directly on my joints, so it alleviated a lot of the pain. I also switched to one of my old medications for the remainder of the summer to stabilize my arthritis. But now I feel much better than I did when I came home in May! On a lighter note, I began my job shadowing with my pediatric rheumatologist last week! I will be job shadowing until I leave for school at least once a week. My first appointment was over Telehealth, so I’m hoping I will have at least one chance to volunteer in person at the clinic before I leave.
Phew, that was quite a lot, but I hope you enjoyed this update on my college journey, as I will soon begin my second year of college in August. I will be sure to share more soon! A hui hou!