First Semester Victories!

Summer on campus

Life is suddenly moving as fast as it ends. Suddenly, the slow and simple high school life we once lived is thrust into a time warp—just as quickly as the summer before your first year of college ends, so does the professor invigilating your final exam declare, “Time’s up!”

It seems as if the universe has answered our calls to be let free at last from the stress of labs, papers, and the large amount of calories that Late Night at Douglass and free swipes in the pit has afforded us. Though this first semester was filled with ups and down amid tears and more tears, and though it has rushed by us so quickly, there are still so many enduring features of the last four months that will take a very long time to forget.

Fall on campus

The first thing I think of when I reminisce on the last four months is that my friend who lives on the floor above me in Sue B. borrowed his mom’s Prius and dropped me off at the airport at 3:30 in the morning. This same friend just this week hugged me on two occasions as I broke down in the heat of finals stress. Then after the freshman orgo exam, another friend saw how “dead” I seemed after this rigorous testing period and bought me Panda Express (huge gesture, this!).

It doesn’t end here. One of my hall mates got my laundry for me so that I could take a quick nap, since I was going to stay up all night before I went to the airport. It would be a sin for me to ever say that I have not found my people here at Rochester. And not just one person, so many kinds of people that are caring, thoughtful, and willing to help you when you’re in need. Again … MY LAUNDRY!!!!


Speaking of many people, the national motto of Jamaica is “Out of many one people.” Many people of different races, backgrounds, and beliefs living together as one.  My experiences so far at Rochester resemble this so emphatically, but definitely does not substitute for being away from home.

Thus, another thing this first semester has showed me is how much I miss my family, my friends back home, and just the “hot sun.” Moving halfway across a country is hard enough, but as an international student immersing herself in a completely different culture, the transition was even harder. From not eating food in the first couple of weeks to joining the e-board of the Freshman 15 club, or even from being called “Bianco” to just “Binks,” I can definitely say I underestimated the adjustments required for this life changing journey.

In the midst of all this, I saw my first snow, engaged in a heated snowball fight in the quad, collected quarters from 16 states, and fell in love with Rochester (GO, YOU JACKETS!).


Finally, this quarter of a year demonstrated that I still have so much more to discover about myself. I found out that I can fight even harder than I ever have in my life and still not do as well. On the other hand, I learned that fighting does not make much sense unless you do it efficiently. I also discovered that we can’t fight all our battles by ourselves and we need people—in fact, these new friends from all around the country and the world—to help us fight for that 4.0 GPA.

The University of Rochester is not a community of individuals fighting among each other for top spot, but a group of beautiful souls that are studying, quizzing, eating late-night meals together, working for us all to be on top. This semester and its lessons are the embodiment of Meliora!

About the author

Bianca Hall

Hello, My name is Bianca, Class of 2020. I am an international student from none other than Kingston, Jamaica! I am a Biology major (Pre-med) with minors in Audio Music Engineering & Music. Simply put I am always trying to find new ways and perspectives to think about our daily lives and build on the knowledge that I am constantly acquiring from my friends, family and the U of R.


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