Darius Shahbazi, ’20, takes a selfie at Creighton in his dormitory, Swanson Hall.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Darius Shahbazi, ’20, enjoys college flexibility, under tough workload at Creighton University

Darius Shahbazi, ’20, attends Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He is majoring in biology/medical science.

Q: Why are you pursuing the pre-medical track?

A: It’s a big field in my family, so a lot of my influence and drive comes from them. I’m very interested in the whole subject and field of medical science and the different kinds of positions that you can take once you get far into the career track. It’s just been a passion of mine for a while.

Q: What career do you see yourself going into once you’re out of college?

A: Any kind of physician, although I’m not sure what kind of physician yet. It used to be pediatrics, but as I got older I became a lot more open to different fields like head and neck surgery, or any kind of surgery in general. It’s still up in the air.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: I am taking the usual biology and chemistry courses that I would need to take to fulfill the major, along with a theology class, which is also to fulfill a requirement that I need for graduating.  I’m also taking the respective lab courses that come with the biology and the chemistry course, and a Spanish class.

Q: What’s your favorite class?

A: Right now, I would have to say I’m really enjoying the biology course. We’re really going in-depth on the topics that Dr. Whited lightly covered in the high school biology course, so it’s interesting because I have the basic foundation that I learned from her, and now I’m expanding on it.

Q: What is your least favorite class?

A: Definitely the theology course. There’s a lot of writing and essays that we need to do, surprisingly. I have a big research paper that’s due in three weeks, so it’s a lot of work that I was not planning on.

Q: How large are your classes on average?

A: For the biology class, I believe there are about 150 students total. That number is usually split in half because of COVID-19, since we go into class one out of the two days of the week. The chemistry class is a lot smaller where there’s only 30 people. Theology class is like 25 people. I think for the Spanish class there are 15 people, and the labs are relatively small as well. 

Q: What’s your workload like?

A: Oh, my workload is intense. Essentially, because of COVID-19, we have a crunch semester, which means there are no breaks in between like winter break, or the February break. No spring break or anything. But, the semester ends a lot sooner than it usually would. So, because of that, all the due dates are on top of each other. You could have a big assignment that would usually have two weeks until it’s due, and I’ve actually been given one week. It’s really just assignments on top of each other. Once you turn in something, two more things appear; I’m constantly working until the semester ends.

Q: How’s the campus?

A: It’s a great campus. It’s relatively small so you get around it really quickly. There are different areas you can go to study; I like to go to the Harper Business Center. It’s this really nice building with a bunch of different areas to study and work. If you need to meet with someone, they have meeting rooms, and they have the usual Starbucks and an Apple store so you can get your needs from there. It’s a pretty nice campus to walk around, and hang out and study in different areas other than just your room.

Q: What’s the living situation like?

A: I’m currently in a dorm with one other roommate. We have a bathroom that we share with two other people, as opposed to the entire floor sharing a bathroom, which is nice. It’s a relatively small room, which makes sense as we’re freshmen; once you become a sophomore the rooms that are offered to you are a lot bigger. It goes up from there until you graduate. But for the first two years you have to live on campus, so you’re kind of stuck with those options.

Q: What’s it like living with a roommate?

A: It’s actually really nice. I think it all comes down to how lucky you are with who you get and how well you get along with people because I hear a lot of stories about others not getting on with their roommates. I get along great with my roommate. I lucked out. He’s a really heavy sleeper and since I have really spread-out classes I have to work a lot at night, and I can work in the room if I need to without worrying about waking him up. We get along really well, too.

Q: What is your favorite part about college?

A: I would say my favorite part is having the freedom to work at my own pace — work when I want to and relax when I want to. Since a lot of the classes are online, you don’t have to really worry about getting up and going to the class, which allows you to plan your whole day and what you’re going to work on. The huge amount of flexibility you get once you get to college is something I really enjoy, especially since I’m on campus as opposed to other people who are at home and completely online.

Q: What is your least favorite part about college??

A: Definitely the workload. I know the workload is going to get more intense, but especially with how the semester is structured, with the due dates on top of each other, it’s just work on top of work on top of work every day. 

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?

A: Yes, I would say the biggest one I made was not gauging how much you need to prepare for certain exams. In high school, you know you have an exam on Friday. So, you can start studying for it on Wednesday; you can even start the day before. Sometimes — many of us don’t like to admit it —  you can even study before it on the same day. In college, that would be a very bad decision. With one test, I thought I could study for it just two days ahead, and that definitely was a bad decision. I did not do as great as I wanted to do on the exam.

Q: How well do you think Country Day prepared you for college?

A: I would say Country Day prepared me very well, and I realize that more and more as I continue going through college. Workload-wise, I would say at Country Day, we didn’t have that much work compared to college, except for the Anatomy and Physiology class; that class had a lot of work. I started to realize with my classes that Country Day really built a great beginning foundation on the science classes; where if the professor talks about a subject, instead of it being completely new to me, I have that basic foundation which makes it a lot easier to understand. I’d say the science department prepares you very well for biology and chemistry majors, along with the whole pre-med track.

Q: Any advice for the class of 2021?

A: I would say give yourself enough time to prepare for exams. In college you’ll be able to crunch, but crunching takes a huge toll on your body and can actually waste more time and be less beneficial than you might think. Don’t put off things to the last minute, but at the same time also enjoy your college experience. Don’t study and work for all hours of the day then only sleep when you’re done because over time you’re going to get really stressed and your performance in the classes is going to go down because of that.

Q: Anything you miss at Country Day?

A: Honestly, I miss how small the workload was compared to college. And the teachers. I definitely miss Dr. Whited. I want to see her and tell her, “Thank you for all of the things that you taught me.” It’s been so useful and I keep finding myself referencing things she teaches.

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