Max Wu, ’22, attends Arizona State University and is majoring in business entrepreneurship.
Q: What was the most challenging part about the transition from high school to college?
A: It was interesting. Going into the summer, since our class was really close with each other, we were really excited and hung out a lot. Then the second half of summer hit and it got really emotional for a lot of us. Some of us left early, so there was a period where we were all communicating about our experiences since we moved in before other people.
The transition itself for me was fine though. I’ve been through something like this before because I did an overseas program at a college campus in Taiwan to learn Mandarin two years in a row. I experienced a rough environment and being on my own. I learned that independence that helped me with my transition and I think gave me a bit of an edge over others.
For the most part I was okay. I could feel my mental health deteriorating though. It’s the little things that tick you off, like a big math exam or the bathrooms not working. It really just starts to chip at your sanity. What helped the most was making friends.
Q: How would you describe the campus culture?
A: It’s a big school. There’s always something going on. There are other cultural things too, like everyone has electric scooters. Or how everyone uses Snapchat. I’m used to Sacramento, and a lot of my friends don’t use it. Here, everybody uses Snapchat to communicate.
And they weren’t lying about the party reputation. Everybody gets really crazy, but what was really interesting was seeing the dynamic during the school week. Everyone’s grinding, heads down in a book and going crazy focusing and doing their work. On the weekends, something switches and you don’t even recognize them. They turn into the wildest, most fun-seeking people you ever meet. They just transform. Right when it comes to Monday, they go right back to it. I was honestly really impressed by it.
Q: What major did you choose and why?
A: My parents are entrepreneurs, they have a few salons and a couple other businesses. I want to follow their footsteps as a business entrepreneurship major. It’s going to help me with opening my own business. Obviously it’ll help with things like networking and establishing good communications, whether it’s with partners, suppliers, customers or anyone I need to work with. I don’t think I’ll get a good job directly off my major, but it’ll help me a lot.
Q: What is your housing situation like?
A: Business majors get their own dorms. There’s a big one that’s nice and modern, and a little one that’s really old. I got put in the little one, and it really had a mental toll. You’re doing all this schoolwork but don’t have the luxury of living comfortably. I didn’t even have a dorm hallway like most schools. When I opened my door it’d go straight outside to the Arizona desert, so it was either super hot or super cold, and the bathroom was all messed up and outside.
I ended up moving, so I had the special situation of two different dorms and roommates. Both of my roommates were really cool; there’s a form you fill out with your preferences so my roommates matched my vibe. I already locked in housing for next year in November and got a really solid deal.
Q: How has the food been at the college?
A: College food will humble you. The dining hall has all types of food — anything you could imagine. It’s a big place.
But think of every one of your favorite meals, but worse. They’re not made correctly. If there’s pizza, the dough was undercooked. For hamburgers, they just looked squashed. There was always something wrong.
There was a Mexican cuisine restaurant like Chiptole right in the middle of the student union area that was very accessible. That was a frequent spot for me. Outside food is very accessible, but I usually kept it to once a week.
Q: How is college different from what you expected?
A: Classes were a lot easier than I thought they would be. Country Day really set a high bar. I didn’t expect to have that much free time, but you have a lot.
Q: What does self-care look like for you in college?
A: There’s a big gym, like a fitness facility. For me, going to the gym and staying physically active was huge. I saw a lot of people get stuck in their room, and they end up just rotting. Eating bad food or having mental health issues.
I try to have a good diet. I had unlimited meal swipes, so I just ended up farming that a lot. It’s tempting, though. Your parents aren’t there, you can get whatever you want. It takes a lot of self control.
Q: How have you been coping with homesickness, if at all?
A: What really helped me was being very active and having an active schedule. As long as you’re occupied doing something, you can take your mind off of it.
The only time I really felt it was when I was in my dorm and my roommate wasn’t there, so I had no one to talk to. Then it starts to hit and you think. But for the most part, as long as you’re in class, talking to people or eating, you can flush it out.