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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2


First Impressions

by Brittan Trozzi, Warren ’01


If looks could kill, I would have met my end in June 1997. Lucky for me, first impressions aren’t always the beginning or end of friendships. By all accounts, Silvia (Huang) Yue, ’01, and I should have never been friends: She is quiet, ob­serving those around her be­fore engaging, while I tend to chatter and crack jokes to break the ice. As newly-admitted Warren freshmen, we had been assigned to the same summer orientation group, but within the first few hours of meeting, I wanted to stay as far away from Silvia as possible. Earlier, I had laughed loudly at something someone had said, until Silvia’s icy stare and keenly arched eyebrow silenced me. Clearly she was not amused.

As fate would have it, I was unpleasantly surprised on move-in day in September when Silvia passed by my doorway, hauling her belongings into the room next to mine. The one girl I was planning to avoid was now my new suitemate. I braced myself for an uncomfortable year. But fate cast Silvia and me with similar schedules in winter quarter, causing us to often be the only ones in the suite at the same time. We had no option but to hang out with each other, and soon we were inseparable.

Living with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and habits brought a wonderful perspective to my previously limited world. I grew up in San Diego and, while my heritage is Polish and Italian, I consider myself a native Southern Californian, steeped in beach time and all-hours Mexican food. Silvia hailed from Taiwan, by way of Stockton, California, and spent her time in high school on the badminton court, a sport that wasn’t offered at my school, and was well-versed in cuisines that I couldn’t even pronounce. Silvia taught me how to use chopsticks (embarrassing, I know), introduced me to unique foods like boba and kimchi. She had strange habits like eating sugar straight out of the containers and would often fall asleep in her O-Chem book. And yet, through Silvia, I found a new perspective on building relationships. This person, who I was ready to dismiss so easily as someone who clearly didn’t want to be around me, turned out to be a soul mate.

My college career gave me so much more than an education from books and lectures. At UCSD, I was introduced to friends and relationships that influenced my life and helped to shape the future me. How I met them didn’t matter; in Silvia’s case, a roommate by assignment. There was Azadeh, also from freshmen orientation, who was the first person in my life to identify as Persian and share what that meant. There was my fellow resident advisor Carrie who taught me about faith, and Darius, who seemed to be following a parallel lifestyle in our campus activities and involvement, but could also offer me perspective on the challenges of coming out as a gay man. Some of these friendships lasted throughout college and some are the people I lean on even now. Each relationship introduced me to a little piece of that friend’s world, and made my own world just a little broader. Facebook has made it easy to stay in touch with my network of Triton friends, and though we may not be sitting next to each other in the dining hall, we can still stay connected and learn from each other.

In my hallway, I have two pictures of Silvia and me. The first shows two girls at the freshmen semi-formal dance, arms wrapped around each other and smiling. And right next to that is a photo of Silvia, a beautiful bride, and me, a bridesmaid at her wedding this past summer—12 years after that horrible first impression. I still like to tease her about giving me the dirtiest look I’ve ever received in my life, but at least by now, she’s not embarrassed by my explosive laughter, and I’ve learned how to interpret her facial expressions.

Brittan Trozzi, Warren 01, is the student programs manager for UC San Diego Alumni Association.


If you have any stories about your years at UCSD, we would love to hear them.

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