I had always imagined the start of college to be a complete fresh start. While this may have been the case for classes of freshmen before me, this year I was taking classes online from home. Therefore, I was already familiar with my work environment (the trusty desk and chair ensemble I had used all throughout high school) and my housemates (my loving family). However, in a way, the semester still felt like the start of a new chapter in my life. My passionate professors, stressful exams, and the diverse collection of student organizations showed me that I definitely was no longer in high school. 

For one thing, my studying time and methods changed from high school to college. Especially for my math class, it was not sufficient to just memorize theorems. I had to complete many practice problems to truly understand the concepts. During this first semester, I picked up a wide array of study habits that I plan to continue using throughout college. I learned that studying is not just memorizing facts and reviewing notes. Studying is explaining my work to friends, doing extra practice problems, talking to my professors, and making study guides. 

Fortunately, USC offers resources outside the classroom to help with studying. Professors and TAs are accessible, so it is easy to get help. I had a lot of lecture based courses this semester, and office hours gave me time to ask questions one-on-one with the professor. Also, since everything was online, it was very convenient to drop into office hours in between classes because all I had to do was click a Zoom link. 

Additionally, I met lots of amazing people in my classes and clubs. Taking the initiative to reach out to my classmates was daunting at first, but after doing it a couple times, I became comfortable with it. I enjoyed forming study groups, having movie nights, and of course, playing Among Us. I’m very glad I reached out to my peers because some of them became very good friends! 

Playing Among Us in a club meeting! 


Now I’m enjoying this extended winter break spending time with family and old as well as new friends. I think my first semester of college went as well as it could have given the circumstances. I’m thankful for the new skills I learned and the people I’ve met, and I’m excited to do it all again next semester. 

Jocelyn Tsai

Jocelyn Tsai

MAJOR: Civil Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Marin, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @jocelyn_t I am part of the Global Challenge Scholars Program and American Society of Civil Engineers, and I am a tutor in the Asian American Tutorial Project. Outside of school, I love swimming and baking.

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