Searching for community: My UC Davis Story

A group of students, Franchesca and Center for Leadership and Learning staff posing for a photo around a "Mapping your journey" poster outside of the UC Davis Conference Center.
My amazing team and me (top left) in front of the UC Davis Conference Center for the "Mapping your journey" leadership conference! (Courtesy of Franchesca Christe)

When I committed to UC Davis, I knew that over 30,000 undergraduates call this campus home. However, that number seemed so large that I couldn’t really grasp it — until I arrived and saw crowds of students walking, biking, and chatting everywhere I looked.

The introvert in me immediately started quaking. 

You might think UC Davis’ size would be a downside for someone like me. What I came to find, was just the opposite: a larger student population meant more opportunities for me to connect with people and find my community. 

A bigger campus makes you bolder in your approach

When you take classes that have over four hundred students (looking at you, chemistry series), the likelihood of you sitting next to the same person more than once is pretty slim. After missing several chances to reconnect with classmates, I realized that I couldn’t just wait for friendships to form. I had to take a bolder approach.

I started dedicating blocks of time for social activities. Making game plans — for weekly lunches at the Coffee House, weekend trips to the Davis Farmers Market and even late-night sessions at the library — helped me cement new friendships. 

A selfie of Franchesca Christie outside in front of a pink floral tree.
Franchesca Christe is the May guest writer for the UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions blog. (Courtesy of Franchesca Christe)

That’s one of the perks of UC Davis — there’s no shortage of activities to do on-campus (great for those of us who don’t have cars to get around). You can bowl at the Games Area below the Memorial Union, try out rock climbing at the Activities and Recreation Center or keep it lowkey and chill with the ducks in the Arboretum. Personally, I recommend doing all of these!

More students, more opportunities to get involved

From student clubs to Greek Life to on-campus jobs, I quickly realized there were a lot of communities to get involved with. 

At first, I attended various club events. I tried music production, creative writing and sustainable plant potting — and learned a lot — but I didn’t find the particular connections I wanted. So, I searched for other opportunities. 

In the fall, I auditioned for the UC Davis Concert Band. The ensemble became a great space to bond with people over our shared passion for music. I participated in the band throughout my first year, knowing I would be greeted by friendly faces at every rehearsal. The consistency and familiarity of that group really grounded me as a freshman; I was still adjusting to the fast-paced quarter system and I needed that time to get to know my peers. 

Going into my second year, I looked for similar long-term programs. I applied for a year-long internship with the Center for Leadership Learning — one of my best decisions since starting university.

Today, I get to spend my shifts brainstorming, collaborating and laughing with coworkers who are some of the kindest and inspiring people I’ve met during my time at UC Davis. While I am officially here for “work”, the connections I’m making run deeper than just my LinkedIn feed. 

Friends hidden in plain sight

I’m still an introvert of course but navigating this large campus encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace every chance to build deeper connections. So, keep in mind: whether you choose to rush, join a club or get involved with another on-campus organization, there’s a community here for you, just waiting to be discovered. 

Franchesca Christe is a second-year undergraduate, majoring in English and environmental policy. She regularly writes for the Center for Leadership Learning. In her free time, she enjoys reading and biking around Davis.

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