Josh Friedman, ’19, attends the University of Colorado Boulder with Blake Lincoln, ’19, and Lia Kaufman, ’19. Friedman is majoring in astrophysics.
Q: How did you choose your major?
A: A couple of years ago, I went to an academic camp that offered classes in astrophysics. (I joined the class) to see if that was something I wanted to do, and I ended up really liking the classes.
I’ve always been interested in space, and I also really like physics — it’s a fun subject — so the combination of space and physics led to (my choice).
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I’m taking Accelerated Introductory Astronomy I, General Physics I for Physics Majors, Calculus I and Trash and Treasure: Temples and Tombs, which is an art history and classics course.
Q: Which has been your favorite so far?
A: I’ve really liked my astronomy class; the professor’s amazing, and the TA is really cool. The class is always super engaging — it’s so much fun.
Q: Your least favorite?
A: Probably Calculus I because it’s just AP Calculus AB. (There’s) really nothing different; it’s just in a shorter time frame.
Q: How big are your classes?
A: My largest class is my art history classics course that’s 350 to 400 students in the lecture. My smallest class is calculus, which is about 20 to 25 students if everyone shows up.
Q: Do you like those sizes?
A: I like the size of my recitation in labs a lot, because those are about what I was used to — like 15 to 20 people.
But I don’t mind the people in my largest class. I don’t really know many people because there’s like 400 people in it. In the smaller ones, I know more people. To be honest, I don’t feel like it’s too much of a change; it’s just a bit different.
(Unlike at Country Day), you can’t interrupt the class and directly talk to your professor because you’re wasting the time of 149 other people.
Q: Are you participating in any clubs?
A: I’m technically (in) some clubs, but I’ve been so busy this semester that I actually haven’t been to a single meeting.
I’m signed up for the Tabletop Gaming Club, eSports Club and the Dungeons and Dragons Club. I wanted to do the Astronomy Club, but it conflicts with one of my classes, so I couldn’t do that this semester, though I’m planning on joining next semester.
(I joined these clubs) because they are things I’m interested in, and I saw posters around the campus. I wanted to get more into (my interests) and meet more people that were interested in those things.
A bunch of people in my astronomy lecture are in the Astronomy Club, and they told me about a lot of really cool things they’re doing — they often go out on observing nights and talk about recent discoveries.
Q: What’s the campus like?
A: It’s huge compared to Country Day; I live in dorms that are off campus, so it seems even bigger than it really is.
It’s very pretty. It snowed over Thanksgiving break — like two feet. There was still a whole bunch of snow on campus (when classes resumed), and it is absolutely beautiful in the snow when it’s a clear day and you can see the Flatirons (rock formations) from the quad in front of the library.
You can see the mountains, and it’s absolutely incredible — the view is probably second to none.
Q: Has the weather been an adjustment for you?
A: I’ve never really been in snow a whole lot — I never really went up to Tahoe with my parents or with friends, especially in the winter.
I was mainly used to a lot of heat and a lot of rain, but it wasn’t too hard of an adjustment.
You just have to layer up when you know it’s going to be cold. Once, the high was 50, and I was in like jeans and a long-sleeve shirt for most of the day.
It takes some getting used to, but it’s not that bad. I really prefer the snow over the rain because not everything gets soaked.
Q: What’s your housing like?
A: I live in dorms that are off campus but owned by (CU) Boulder. I live in what’s called Williams Village; there are about three or four different dorm complexes.
My building’s like 13 stories tall — and the tallest one (in my complex) is 15 — whereas on the main campus the tallest dorm is like four stories.
(My room is) small, but I have one of the bigger rooms; I’m living in a double.
It’s very different. You see a lot of people that you know around a lot, which I like — especially since I’m living out in the boonies, where it’s a 15-minute bus ride to campus.
But I do like it — it definitely has a community. It’s just very, very different from what I’m used to.
Q: How’s it going with your roommate?
A: It’s been fine. I’ve never lived in the same room with some other person for an extended period of time, so it certainly took some getting used to.
You have to clean up after yourself a lot more, keep everything tidy and make sure that everything’s presentable. I live in a hallway, so if you open the door, people are going to see inside your room.
We have very different schedules, so it’s kind of tough. He likes to stay up late and sleep in, whereas I have early classes and like to go to bed early. I’ve taken to wearing a (sleep) mask at night so I can sleep comfortably and let him work.
Overall it’s been good, but we’re not super close friends or anything — we just sort of exist in the same space. We’re acquainted, and he’s a very nice guy — it’s just that he’s very different.
Q: How did you find your roommate?
A: I ended up doing random housing. I wasn’t going to do (it initially) — I was going to talk to people — but I just decided that was way too much effort.
I should have done that if I wanted to be closer friends with my roommate, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t because I’ve met a lot of really cool people.
Q: Have you participated in any school traditions?
A: There’s a tradition with Ralphie, our mascot. It’s a live buffalo outside the (football) field, and people rub the horns for good luck, such as in finals week. I’m probably going to do that because I need some luck in my finals.
There’s not a whole lot of traditions, but every home football game we run our mascot around the field. I didn’t go to any games, but I’ve watched them on TV. It’s really cool because it’s a live buffalo going around the field — it’s something that no other school in the nation can attest to.
Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?
A: A few, though it’s mainly the same one over and over again. I’ve locked myself out of my room about three or four, maybe five, times — I’ve lost count.
Every single time, I’ve been going to close my door when I see my wallet on the desk. I move to open my door and get it, but then the door closes on me.
It’s the most annoying feeling in the world. You feel like an idiot when you have to walk down to the central offices and say, “Hey, can I get a temp key so I can get back into my room because I locked myself out?” — especially when you do it twice in one day.
Q: Do you see Blake or Lia around the campus?
A: I do see them around. It’s weird how often I see them considering I go to a school with 30,000 people.
I don’t have any classes with Lia or Blake, but we all live in Williams Village.
I live in the Stearns complex, and so does Blake, but I live in Stearns West (Hall), and he lives in Stearns East (Hall). I see him occasionally walking through Stearns Central, which is like the connector bit, and occasionally on the bus.
I’m also pretty good friends with a few of Blake’s roommates, and some people on my floor also know his roommates, so I see him occasionally.
I don’t see Lia as much. She lives out in one of the farther buildings, but occasionally I see her in the dining hall or walking to class.
Q: What are your favorite things about college so far?
A: I really like the freedom. I was more independent toward junior and senior year, but this is something entirely different.
At times it’s a little scary because you’re so on your own — you really have to learn how to do things for yourself.
Like if the dining hall isn’t open on a certain day, I have to figure out which place is the most cost-effective for me to eat at.
And I really like meeting a whole bunch of new people because at Country Day there’s like 150 people in the entire high school, roughly — and that’s it; you know everyone, at least a little bit.
But (here), there are people that I see on the bus and then never see again — it’s interesting and very, very different because you meet a lot of new people.
Q: What don’t you like about college so far?
A: My classes. I knew it would be tough, so I jumped into the first semester working on overdrive thinking, “This will probably get me pretty well-situated.”
It ended up being an average amount of effort, but I was putting a very large amount of time into my work, so it was a change.
But then again, that differs by major. Someone doing political science might not have to do as much work as someone doing business or engineering.
Overall, the workload hasn’t been very fun — it’s definitely been a lot more work than Country Day.
Q: How well did Country Day prepare you for college?
A: Country Day prepares you very well for college, especially in the writing department. The writing has been very easy, and that’s pretty much thanks to Country Day. I have written quite a few essays that I would not have gotten a good grade on back at Country Day that I’ve gotten very good marks on here.
The math and the sciences have been really good — actually, I’ve been pretty well-prepared for everything.
Like half the classes I’m taking now are just stuff that I already know. It’s nice to see that I already know what I’m learning and that I know it pretty well.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2020?
A: Don’t stress out about not getting into your top-choice school.
Boulder was not my top choice, but now that I’m here, I don’t feel like I could be anywhere else. I do miss home and California, but Boulder is amazing, and I love it.
If I had gone to my top-choice school, I probably wouldn’t have had as good a time as I am having here.
Everything is relative, and you’ll find out where you fit eventually. Even if it doesn’t seem like you will like where you’ve committed, I guarantee you will come to love it or at least tolerate it.
Five-star or subpar?
Quality of classes: ★★★★
Student/teacher interaction: ★★★★
Social scene: ★★★★
School spirit: ★★★★★ early in football season, ★★ after first loss