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In the Eyes of a First Year
Alyxandra Spikerman is a first year chemical engineering student from Carlsbad, California. She participates in undergraduate research with the Murthy Lab, and hopes to attain her PhD after graduation. She enjoys listening to music, drinking coffee, and writing in her free time.
In the Eyes of a First Year
I remember the first time I looked up Northeastern online. I decided to take the online tour, and as I gazed upon pictures of Centennial and the red brick walkways, I knew where I could call home. I saw myself walking along with the trees, breathing in the Boston air, and finding my place amongst the nature and the city.
A new city, a new life, a new home. And my subconscious knew where I was going to university.
Then, over a year later, I moved into my dorm and saw the campus in person for the first time. I took my time exploring Boston and finding amazing coffee shops. I walked over 150 total miles my first month here, which was surprising after coming from California where I drove everywhere.
When I wasn’t exploring, I was studying, working, or catching up with friends. This ended up being the best part of my first semester. I’ve met my best friends here, and have come to know some of the most interesting and genuine humans within my home. In the dorms, you live seconds away from each other, so going down the hall to go say "hi" becomes commonplace. Movie at 11pm in PJs and no shoes? No problem. You live with your friends and they become a pseudo-family in a short time. You live, eat, study, and breathe together. They become a common facet in your life.
Another common facet? Studying. It is university after all, where a class can seem impossible, but everything is doable. Don’t let the stereotypical engineer class schedule scare you. My classes are and were challenging, but if I put enough effort forth and reached out for help when necessary, I could accomplish anything. It’s all about work ethic and time management. In a way, it’s a work hard, play hard kind of mindset. Finish an assignment and reward yourself with Netflix. Shopping on Saturday? Finish your lab report on Friday. I didn’t miss out on life for the sake of class.
University is stressful, I know; I’ve been there. However, if you’re doing something you’re passionate about, it’s fun. I love chemistry, and I’m a chemical engineer. In general, I love making things and solving problems. Although I do work all the time, it’s interesting work, and I gain knowledge about my chosen disciple every day.
During my first semester, I decided to undertake a work study job at the Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education, where I was introduced to the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Northeastern (and if you didn’t already know, it’s huge). I ended up being a semester ahead in most of my classes, so I took Calculus 3, Physics 1, Ethics in the World’s Religions (my elective), Engineering Design (Cornerstone I), and Intro to Engineering. Out of all of them, physics was my hardest course, but it was doable after studying and practicing as much as I could. I took advantage of my professor’s office hours when I needed to, and ended up understanding physics in a way I was unable to before.
This semester, I began my major course work, so I’m taking the first chemical engineering course called Conservation Principles. I’m also taking Differential Equations, Cornerstone II, and Physics 2. I am working in Dr. Shashi Murthy’s Chemical Engineering Lab on campus as my work-study position and am on the Management Team for an up-and-coming engineering product design venture called Generate.
I took the initiative and got involved early and wholly, but I left time to socialize and have fun, too. This campus is a cornucopia of experience, and I am so grateful to be apart of it. There’s a long road ahead of me, but I have a strong feeling it will be paved with the red brick of my new home.