Find out what the members of the class of 2016 are up to in their first year of college. A college freshman is featured in the Freshman Focus every week.
Zoe Dym, ‘16, is a “mainlander” who attends the University of Hawaii. She plans on majoring in sociology or women’s studies.
Q: Why did you choose University of Hawaii?
A: I didn’t want to go to a college in California because I wanted to be far from home. I was having a hard time choosing between here (UH) and Willamette (Salem, Oregon), so I wrote down the pros and cons on a list. I had family and friends choose for me. I also liked Hawaii because it’s a good mix of Japanese and American culture (Zoe is part Japanese, part American).
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I’m taking Psychology of Gender, Honors World Cultures, Honors Freshman Writing, Cinema and Digital Media, and Elementary Korean.
Q: How big are your classes?
A: Since I take honors classes, all of the big lecture classes are maybe 20 students. I don’t actually have any big classes.
Q: What’s your favorite class?
A: Probably Psychology of Gender because everyone is so socially aware. Recently, we’ve been talking about sexism in this year’s election. I also find my teacher is really engaged in gender studies.
Q: Least favorite?
A: Probably the film class. We don’t make any films, so it’s really just a three-hour lecture.
Q: Have you participated in any clubs or extracurriculars?
A: I’m in the Planned Parenthood Club. Last week we walked around handing out condoms. I’m also a voluntary radio DJ for the college radio station. I work from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. every Saturday. I thought it would be a cool way to be part of the college and island community. I also got to meet a lot of people who appreciate music like me.
Q: What is the overall attitude of the student body? Are the majority very studious or are they big partiers?
A: Definitely more of a party college.
Q: How do you feel about only 30 percent of students being from the mainland?
A: It really doesn’t bother me. Sometimes my local friends will make fun of me for pronouncing things wrong. Flip flops are called slippers here, and whenever I mess that up, my friends tease me.
Q: How different is the general atmosphere of Hawaii compared to Sacramento?
A: Everyone is really warm and welcoming. They’re all just super chill, and I’m really into that.
Q: How do you get around?
A: Our student IDs let us use the bus for free, so that’s mainly what I use.
Q: What is the island of Oahu like? What is there to do there?
A: Around the campus is all residential, but a quick bus ride can bring you to the other parts of the island. Obviously I can go to the beautiful beaches, and my local friends know a few more secretive beaches.
Q: What is your dorm like?
A: I live in the freshman dorms. I have one roommate named Emily. The dorms are in a cylinder tower so our rooms are all pie-shaped. There are 12 floors with about 12 rooms on each, and the roof has a kitchen and a place to do laundry.
Q: How is your roommate?
A: I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better roommate. We get along so well. She was my source to get more friends. We have the same hobbies, passions, and we’re just really close friends.
Q: Has the college lived up to your expectations so far?
A: I think so, yeah. I’m pretty busy managing school work and doing DJ work at night. I feel productive every day. I definitely didn’t feel this productive at Country Day.
Q: What makes your school unique?
A: Definitely the location and the diversity. There are more minorities than white students here, unlike mainland universities.
There’s a strong pride in Hawaiian culture, so any class you take they try to incorporate Hawaiian culture.
Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?
A: The first day I left my room key in my room, so I had to wait two hours for my roommate. I think I did it three times in three days. By now I’ve just lost count.
Q: What is the biggest difference between being a high-school senior and a college freshman?
A: You have to be able to manage your time a lot more. Since you have breaks in between classes and you don’t have class every day, getting the right work done at the right time is very important. You just have to keep track of everything yourself.
Q: What’s your advice for the class of 2017?
A: Everyone just needs to take a deep breath and calm down a little. I swear some Country Day kids have been studying for the SATs since first grade. It’s okay if you don’t get into your first-choice school. No matter where you go, you’ll have a good time. As long as you can look back on your four years and think “Yeah! That was pretty fun,” then you made the right decision.
—By Mehdi Lacombe