My Freshman Year of College: The Truth

My freshman year gave me more than new friends and knowledge–  it also helped me find a passion. I was able to fuel my interest in helping those in need around me. I was able to spend a lot of my time giving back to my community and it fulfilled me. It was also nice being able to be around other people who loved to volunteer as well because you should always surround yourself with positive influences.

A few weeks ago, I officially finished my freshman year of college, and it was great.

Now that’s not a phrase I ever imagined myself saying. Mostly because I’m a first generation college student and even though I’ve always known that I wanted to be a college student, I was never entirely sure if it was an achievable goal for me. I don’t come from a necessarily prosperous family and I didn’t really have much guidance when it came to choosing which college would be my future home, but I went with my gut and decided to go to a college that was three hours away from my home in a town that I had never even visited before.

So, it’s safe to say that I was petrified when I first walked onto that campus. I only had one friend, I was unsure of my major, and I was gut-wrenchingly homesick within the matter of hours. On my first day of orientation, I actually locked myself into the communal bathroom in my hall and cried for fifteen minutes just because I was so unsure if I was meant to be a college student.

I didn’t understand so many things, like dorm etiquette and how to get my roommate to like me and what is the best way to buy text books and should I get involved in clubs and if so which clubs should I join and there were just— so many questions that I was too terrified to ask anyone because I was too embarrassed to own up to the fact that I was not nearly as well-versed in the intricate workings of college like how everyone else appeared to be. I missed my friends, my family, my dog. I missed having the security of being at home.

And I stayed that way for, I don’t know, the first few weeks? The feeling of homesickness was just so difficult to get rid of. And I was so upset with myself for not being happier at college because I worked so hard to get where I was and then for a while I wasn’t even that secure in my decision. I wanted to talk to someone about how lost I felt, but I was too ashamed. I didn’t want people to see that I wasn’t as strong as I had let on.

But then, I hit a point where I decided to stop wallowing in the feeling of homesickness and take the leap to do more than go to college and actually enjoy college. I stopped spending all of my time in my room and made myself branch out. I went to the events that were held for freshmen to make us feel more welcome, and I asked around to see which clubs people recommended. I ended up being intrigued into joining two different organizations: a leadership club for freshmen and a sorority.

Joining these two different organizations changed my college experience in ways that I can’t explain. I surrounded myself with people who pushed me to be better versions of myself. They motivated me to do community service, meet new people, and maintain my GPA. The mixture of these clubs also helped me meet people from all across campus and even get familiar with the new city I was living in. I found myself in a new community filled with so many loving, passionate people who have so much greatness destined for them that it made me feel like I was destined for greatness too.

I still got homesick at times, and I even had a few close loved ones pass away over the course of my first semester. But since I branched out and formed close relationships on campus, I was able to find people to lean on during the hard times.

If I didn’t have them, I would have definitely dropped out after my first midterms. And not even because I had bad grades or anything, but because I would have still felt so miserably alone and homesick.

My freshman year gave me more than new friends and knowledge–  it also helped me find a passion. I was able to fuel my interest in helping those in need around me. I was able to spend a lot of my time giving back to my community and it fulfilled me. It was also nice being able to be around other people who loved to volunteer as well because you should always surround yourself with positive influences.

And these positive influences helped me push myself during my second semester. I found the confidence to run for positions in both of my organizations and ended up getting places in both. I was able to help more with community service in my sorority and somehow was given the position of president of my leadership club. I tried to set a good example to others during that second semester and push everyone else to get involved too because of how rewarding the experience can be. I found myself realizing how much I have grown as a leader and just as a person in general during my first year at college, and I realized I wanted to help others grow too.

During this time, I also had a few other experiences like trying sushi and going to an art museum and just living life with less fear than I had before college. I went from a girl who was terrified of living the simple comfort of her home in the country to a woman that was embracing all of the possibilities the city had to offer. I knew that I was changing, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t scared of the change.

I feel like college pushed me in so many ways to want to do more, to be more, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I made so many new lifelong friends, challenged my old mindsets, and grew as a leader in ways I cannot describe. I know that I had a rough patch in the start, but I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything.

And I can only hope that my sophomore year of college is just as amazing as this year.

I hope that you enjoyed this little journal entry of sorts. Feel free to share what your college experience was like! Be sure to like, comment, and follow! 

IMG_1066 2

Advertisements

10 Underrated Things About College

This list exists to help ease any anxiety an incoming freshman might feel, but it is also here to remind you that this experience has given people more than they ever bargained for. Even though you’re broke, stressed, and gaining weight– college is a blast. And here is ten reasons why.

College. It has this daunting presence that every person has to toy with the concept of while going through the trials of adulthood. Just the idea of it can spiral a person into a deep hole of anxiety. Whether you are a senior in high school fearing this big transition or even a current college student who has lost sight of why you should put yourself through this stress, it is important that college has so many amazing qualities that most people take for granted.
This list exists to help ease any anxiety an incoming freshman might feel, but it is also here to remind you that this experience has given people more than they ever bargained for. Even though you’re broke, stressed, and gaining weight– it’s a blast. And here is ten reasons why.

1. STUDENT! DISCOUNTS!

Okay. It is a well-known truth that college students are broke. I mean, how can we not be broke? Tuition is stupidly high and don’t even get me started on the outrageous cost of housing and books. But businesses around campus are there to save the day because they give college students hella discounts for everything from tanning beds to Subway sandwiches. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but that 15% off really helps you out.

2. I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E

Your parents don’t want you to know this but one of the most amazing things about college is that it gives you your first taste of independence. For the first time in your life you get to dictate your choices in life. You choose your major, your classes, your hobbies, etc. But most importantly, you decide how you live your life. You choose when you go home during a night out. You decide on whether you should buy an $8 pizza or splurge at McDonald’s. Nobody is there to tell you to do your homework or clean your room (even though you should do both.)
You are in charge of your life for the first time ever, and it is a really refreshing feeling.

3. [IT] CAN SHOW YOU THE WORLD

And no, I’m not just talking about studying abroad. While, yes, college does offer you the cheapest (and safest) way to visit other countries, but it also introduces you to so many other things in the world. From new foods, exposing you to new cultures, or even learning about global issues– college offers you an unfiltered view of the world around you. People will offer to take you to everything from museums to hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurants and I cannot stress to you how important it is that you seize these chances. This is the point in your life that you should take advantage of the world at your feet. If you can travel, travel. If you can learn, learn. If someone is giving you a shot to make your life colorful– take it.
College will introduce you to so many new things that will make you go wide-eyed with wonder, but it will also help you garner affection for the place that you came from. This is the best place to gain perspective in life, even though people might not always realize it.

4. Naps are Expected

If you are a high school student, you probably think that this is crazy. I mean, you are somehow able to wake up at 7 A.M, have classes nonstop for eight hours, take part in after school activities, and then do homework without even thinking about stopping to take a good nap. This is an impossible feat for college students. If you don’t crash into a nap at least once a week, you must be a robot. College students probably take more naps than infants do. For some reason that can probably be explained with fancy, scientific words– naps are our fuel. If you can’t nap, then you have to ingest obscene amounts of caffeine.
Naps are little practice deaths, and death is something that college students intimately contemplate (especially during midterms and finals) so you shouldn’t be surprised that napping is the cornerstone of a good college student’s life.

5. Nobody Cares

I know this sounds like a harsh statement, but hear me out.
If you whip into your afternoon class fully dressed in pajamas– nobody cares. If you ride through campus on a bike with a snuggie on– nobody cares. If you answer a question completely wrong or fail a test– nobody cares. Do you understand why this is a good thing? You can mess up, make a complete fool of yourself, and fail miserably and nobody will judge you. The most a person will do if you mess up in front of them is highkey relate to you. All college students have had moments where they royally failed or made a complete idiot out of themselves, and they quite simply don’t have the energy to laugh at you for doing the same thing that they have done before. You can cry publicly because we’ve all been there. You can wear a dog collar to class and the most a person will do is compliment you.
Don’t stress yourself out over the opinions of others because quite honestly everyone else is so wrapped up in their own problems and stressors that they won’t care. Believe me.

6. The Library

Most of the incoming freshman come in with the mentality that they will never be caught dead in the library. But believe me, this place is like a little slice of heaven that has been right under your nose the whole time.
If your roommate is annoying you, you can easily hide in the library for a few hours and enjoy some moments of nice solitude and quiet. If you completely forgot about a paper due at midnight and need to perform some type of miracle and finish it within half an hour, the library is the perfect place to focus and force yourself to be a decent student. If you just want to sit around and drink coffee with some friends and talk about literally anything they will more than likely meet you at the library. If you are in dire need of a nap but don’t feel like going all the way back to your dorm, the library provides surprisingly great naps. Also, the library is like an entirely different world during finals week when people give you free Red Bulls while you suffer a mental breakdown simultaneously with a few hundred other students.

7. You mean I can get a _____ for free? BET.

College is basically a haven for free swag. You can walk past a few tables and leave with an armful of free t-shirts, buttons, pens, and coupons for food. Especially in the beginning of the school year, local businesses love to give out random free things to get some promo, and college students love anything that is free. The amount of buttons and pens that I own solely because they were free is insane. In a stressful world filled with piles of homework and assessments, free things provide a little adrenaline boost that get you through the day.

Also, there are other “free” things (i.e. you paid for it in your tuition so you should use it anyways) that a lot of people don’t take advantage of. Colleges often have health centers for both ill people and also for those who are going through a rough time mentally. There are countless offices available to help those who are struggling with finding jobs, facing difficulties with declaring a major, or maybe even feeling out of place because of their sexual orientation or their ethnicity. Also, go to the gym. You’re paying for it anyways, so combat the Freshman Fifteen by going at least once a week. It also helps to relieve stress.

8. There’s So Much Room for Activities

I know that people often make it seem like you won’t have any time for a social life if you want to get good grades in college. When you’re in the midst of orientation or whatever, some person will without a doubt tell you that you need to spend around 25 hours per week studying outside of your classes. And while, yes, studying is good and you should stay on top of your homework, you are not a robot. If you drive yourself mad dedicating your entire life to studies, then you will inevitably burnout and hit a wall and lose all motivation to try. You have to find a balance between studying hard and also having a social life.
For every person this can vary, your idea of being social can mean spending hours watching countless vine compilations. Or, you might be the type of person who needs to have twenty friends and go out every weekend. And while there is nothing wrong with being either type of person, college is the perfect place to build social connections outside of just having ‘fun.’
There are countless clubs that exist that can cater to any type of interest. From watching movies to practicing leadership skills to even LARPing, I am sure that there is a perfect club out there for you somewhere. If you’re interested in being in Greek Life– do it. If your college does not have the club that you wish to join, start your own! Being a part of a club will make you look so much better when applying for jobs later on. I know you might think that you won’t have the time to be in a club, but believe me, you will. Also, clubs are the best places to make friends.

9. A Whole New Family

I don’t know about you, but my biggest fear coming into college is that I would be alone. I was terrfied that I would be unable to cultivate any friendships. I came in with this mentality that everybody would already be part of an assigned clique like it was high school or something and my toxic mind convinced myself that I was going to spend the next four years locked away in my dorm like a modern-day Rapunzel.
That was not the case. Another secret that nobody tells you about college is that everyone is just as petrified as you are. Everyone fears loneliness and failure and sadness. If you think that you are the only person walking onto campus during move-in day with a nervous knot forming in your stomach, then you are very mistaken. Everybody wants to feel less alone, so they reach out to anybody that crosses your path.
There will be people who sit by you and strike up conversations just because they don’t want to seem alone. There will be people who offer to eat lunch with you. Hell, I found myself inviting a girl that I knew for less than a week along to my grocery shopping trip. There will be people who you think that will be your best friends in the beginning of college who will mysteriously disappear (or drop out) and there will be strangers that turn into family in the span of a week. Something about the atmosphere of college makes it feel like you live a thousand different lifetimes in a month. The friends that you will make will be by your side during your first mental breakdown, real heartbreak, and bad test grade. You will have family game nights and Taco Tuesdays and all of the things that you did not expect to have during college. And when you go home for the holidays, you will find yourself missing your new friends terribly within the span of a few days.
You are going to make friends. And they will change your life better. Trust me on this.

10. The Most Important Thing

Even though a lot of people seem to lose sight of this certain thing that makes college worth the money and the stress, it is undoubtably the biggest reason why anyone decides to work towards getting a degree. What is this thing, you ask? A higher education.
We funnel thousands of dollars towards getting a degree because we are passionate about one thing that we are willing to take hours upon hours of courses about it. Even though you might not come into college being completely sure about what you want to major in, you still want to find what fuels your fire. College is there to give you more experience and knowledge, and you should never forget that your education is extremely vital. Your degree
is what will help you get paid later on in life. Some people never get the chance to go to high school, let alone college. If you are able to receive a higher education, it is a total privilege and you should be thankful that you are able to learn more about your passions.

Welcome to the Real World

Do you have zero idea about what to do with your life? Do you feel like you are letting everyone that you care about down?

Welcome to the real world.

For essentially the first two decades of our lives, we are controlled.

Every thought we have, every meal we eat, every choice we make, hell, every time that we use the bathroom was closely monitored by the adults in our lives. We are told to be independent and strive for greatness, but in the same breath we are reminded that if we break any of the thousands of norms that society has established for us, we fail at life. Everyone from our parents to our peers to our teachers are molding us into this codependent human being that feels trepidation before making any type of decision alone. And if we try to break free and make decisions for ourselves that aren’t traditional, we are immediately berated and forced back into the confines of society.

And we don’t complain, because the confines are the only thing that we know.

Until we reach the magic age of eighteen and everything suddenly transforms into a menacing world of self-sufficiency and major life-changing decisions. It is like as soon as you finish your high school degree, everyone thinks that you should automatically have life completely figured out. You are expected to know which college you want to go to, what major you will have, what career you will do for the rest of your life, where you’re going to live, what person you’re going to marry, how many kids you’ll want, if you will live in the suburbs or in the country, and how to file taxes when just a few months ago your school would not even trust you to go to the bathroom by yourself. How does society not see a flaw in this?

We are forced into being codependent, mindless beings for most of our lives and then the next day we are expected to make some of the biggest decisions that we will ever make. And if you express that you are confused or scared, you get berated because “You’re an adult now. You should just know.

But how can we know?

It’s not like our high school systems devote that much time to helping students actually preparing for the real world. We weren’t given courses like “Intro to Tax Forms for Dummies” or “How to Not Drown in Student Debt.” Instead, we spent years of our lives memorizing information to regurgitate back onto the standardized tests that (SPOILER ALERT) actually demonstrate very little of the actual knowledge that we hold and will never be applicable to life outside of the classroom.

And I’m not saying that we should attack teachers for how horribly underprepared we are for life. The teachers want to teach us valuable information and wish that they could break away from the rigid goals of the standardized tests. The problem is not the teachers. It’s the people who think that distinguished test scores are more important than fostering young minds to find passions and gain knowledge that will actually make them grow as a person. It’s the people who get angry at students when they try to express individuality and then later on get upset when the same student tells them that they can’t decide what they’re passionate about.

Students are being dehumanized into walking test scores, and not only is it damaging to our minds. But it sets us so far behind when the real world shoves it’s unrelenting presence in our faces. Students that excelled in school find themselves struggling when success is no longer a game of having a stellar memory. The students who fell behind are entering the world discouraged because they’ve spent their whole life hearing that they are simply just not good enough.

When you are already broken down mentally, it is hard to make massive decisions for yourself. And it is even worse to confess to others that you don’t know what you will ever be able to do with your life because you don’t want to fail at being an adult before you have even got started.

But, there’s a bright side to this. If you’re a young adult finding yourself in a similar position to the one that I’m describing, know that you’re not alone. Seriously.

Nobody has a clue about what to do with their lives.

The girl from your high school who has always been so sure about being an Engineer is probably having a mental breakdown and deciding to be an artist instead. The boy who you always just knew would become a lawyer is probably talking on the phone with his mother right now telling her that he wants to go into journalism instead. And your best friend that is currently a biology major? Be sure to motivate her when she starts crying and tells you that she definitely cannot complete the Gen Eds, let alone actually get a degree to be a doctor. We are all going to change our minds at least a million times about the direction that our lives will go. And when we think we have it figured out, it’ll probably change again because life is funny like that.

I know that this sucks right now. That the construction of the school system and society itself seriously needs to be fixed and that it can be seriously discouraging to feel like you can’t answer any of the thousands of questions being hurled your way. But just know that you are not alone in feeling about the world’s biggest idiot and that everyone is going to mess up. Welcome to the real world.

Let’s mess everything up together.