The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Riding the emotional rollercoaster as a transfer student

Ariana Vargas
Ariana Vargas is riding the train from the southwest suburbs to DePaul on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. Vargas transferred to DePaul last winter quarter and has found the transition challenging but rewarding.

Crying in the breakroom in front of my boss – I remember that day in 2022 so clearly. I received an acceptance email from DePaul while I was at the pharmacy where I work part-time as a technician. I thought the email was fake. It made me rethink everything in life.

This acceptance from DePaul was so unreal, but in a good way. But there was a part of me where I was freaking out figuring out how I was going to get to school, how I was going to afford it, which major I was going to pursue. I had to do everything right.

I went to Moraine Valley Community College in the southwest suburbs after high school. It’s a small college many people in my town attend. It was so close by and affordable to get a college degree. I didn’t know what I was doing with myself there. I was working jobs that paid minimum wage and going to school as if I knew my plans for future life. 

Going from the suburbs to the city was such a significant change. I loved driving to my community college. Going on the train was as fun as driving, once I prepared myself for the walking that came after. But the weather in downtown Chicago is insane. I’ve lived in Illinois for my whole life. I’ve never felt so cold in my life until I started my classes at DePaul in the winter quarter this year. 

However, the weather is the least of my concerns. Imposter syndrome, the weight of being a first-generation college student, criticism from family members, and fear of asking questions is the hardest part.

For others like Mohammed Alkaabi, a sophomore international student, transferring has been difficult for other reasons. He went from going to Bowdoin, a private liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine, to DePaul in the fall quarter of 2023. 

He transferred because the Ministry of Education in United Arab Emirates aids students with education inside and outside of the country. He saw other students transfer to DePaul because they saw it as a higher education institution, so he started making his own plans to transfer. Earning his degree from DePaul, they told him, would allow him to go back home and work there. Transferring also allowed him to keep an external full-ride scholarship.

“It’s just jarring coming from a place where I knew everyone to a completely new place,” Alkaabi said. “But life is full of changes and you gotta take it on the chin.”

These changes bring new experiences. For Alkaabi, it was getting used to knowing no one. 

Transfer student Andrea Deleon agrees. She started at DePaul in winter 2022. Because she started her freshman year at University of Illinois Chicago, she missed DePaul’s orientation week and the Involvement Fairs.

“It was kind of hard to figure out who to get in contact with to join a club,” she said.

For me, it was that imposter syndrome feeling. It’s the feeling even if you’ve had success and worked hard to get there, that you don’t deserve it. 

The little voice in my head kept on saying, “You’re from the suburbs. Why did you get chosen to study at DePaul?” I felt like I didn’t belong.

But deep down, I know I deserve to be going to a great school to learn journalism. I know I’m supposed to be at this school for a reason.

Being the first child in my family to get a college degree is probably the biggest weight I’ve had to carry. I see myself as the guinea pig in the family. I made mistakes and had very little or no help. I had to figure out FAFSA, what credits would transfer to DePaul and if I have enough credits each quarter to graduate. So it was just a lot of pressure.

Asking questions in and after class has been the hardest part. Getting rid of my shyness to ask for help hasn’t been easy.

But I’m doing it, and each day gets a little better. Branching from talking to students on the DeHub to those in my class. Finding organizations like TRIO, a student service program that helps under-represented people like myself, really helped me feel like I’m supported inside and outside of school. 

Even though there have been challenges, transferring from one college to another, it’s definitely an experience to remember. I’m grateful for the life lessons I’m learning along the way.

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