Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Op-ed: New students share first impressions of Emerson

Starting at Emerson, or any college, is a daunting experience for many students. / Illustration by Ally Rzesa

Starting at Emerson, or any college, is a daunting experience for many students. We reached out by email and on social media to ask new students: “It’s the first few weeks of your college experience here at Emerson. What are your expectations for your first semester? What is something you learned about yourself so far that’s surprised you? Has life at Emerson been how you imagined it?”


Before college, I mentally prepared myself to dump my high school senior “top dog” status. Once I got here, I realized I missed the comfort of familiarity more than the sense of superiority. I wasn’t as ready to leave home as I thought I was. I missed the ability to wave at my peers in the halls and know the location of my perfect reading nook. Being the oldest and the most experienced didn’t seem to matter at all anymore. Today, two weeks into my time at Emerson, I am glad to say that I’m feeling more at home and closer to the quintessential college fantasy I created in my head.

— Diti Kohli

Kohli freshman journalism major from Naperville, Ill.


Arriving at Emerson felt liberating. The independence, the community, and the alluring creative spaces drew me in the moment I stepped foot in my dorm. A year ago, my dream of being a doctor was a path filled with uncertainty, while my passion for writing and expressing my innermost thoughts through words was my home. Now I stay in that home, with Emerson being a land where I can seize every opportunity without a second thought. Embarking on this journey can have daunting moments, but what lies ahead is filled with new destinations, exciting adventures, and living life joyously. I can honestly say that my greatest self is slowly unraveling.

— Damica Rodriguez

Rodriguez is a freshman journalism major from Cameron, N.C.


Transitioning from a small high school in suburban Massachusetts to a college in the heart of Boston is like being thrown into an ice pool without warning. I was an introvert throughout high school, but Emerson allows me to open up and try new things without fear of judgment or self-doubt. My first few weeks have been superb, and I am grateful that I chose Emerson to further my education. With so many organizations to participate in, so many nice people to befriend, and so many engaging courses to study, I know that this school is going to be home to a wonderful part of my life.

Katie Marks

Marks is a freshman journalism major from Taunton, Mass.


Since it is my first time in the U.S., everything is new to me. After I committed to Emerson, I imagined millions of times how the U.S. would be and whether I would become homesick. It turns out that so far I don’t find myself as a foreigner. I’m just as comfortable as I would be at home. Maybe it is because the people here, from the orientation leaders to the staff in the Dining Center, are friendly and welcoming to me, or perhaps it’s because we are next to Chinatown and Chinese people are passing by every single day. Emerson makes me feel at home, and is an excellent start for an international student’s college experience.

—Eliza Fu

Fu is a freshman journalism major from Xiamen, China


Back in China, I pretended to be a version of myself which pleased everyone around me. My goal, for this semester, is to stop acting. As a teenager, I realized I am neither the nice girl nor the perfect kid my parents, teachers, and friends wanted me to be. I faded into these roles to not disappoint. I moved to Emerson without a name or expectations. The first day in my dorm room, I took a deep breath and introduced myself to my roommate as the person I wished I could have been in the past. She was not scared and told me, “You’re cool, and I like you a lot.” I am glad she accepted me for the truest version of myself, which everyone is going to see this semester.

Xinyi Gao

Gao is a freshman visual and media arts major from Shanghai, China


I was hesitant about immersing myself in a place that experiences all the seasons. But Emerson faculty and students welcomed me with the same warmth as the California sun. Plunging into journalism courses straightaway was a unique surprise, and it excites me for what is to come this semester. Instead of filling freshman year with general-education courses, there are many opportunities to go out and be a journalist. And with the abundance of student organizations, I signed up for anything that remotely interested me. Life at Emerson, so far, has exceeded my expectations because of all the resources and opportunities given to students. I am excited for the upcoming years.

Megan Ochoa

Ochoa is a freshman journalism major from San Diego.


The opinion section sends out prompts periodically. If you are interested in responding to a prompt keep an eye on Beacon social media to see when we post.



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