As I sit in my bed mere days before heading back to school to start my second semester of college, I want to reflect on the things my first semester of college taught me. If you don’t know, I’m a pre-med student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but I live with my family in a small town outside of Lexington, North Carolina when I am not at school. This past semester, against the advice of my advisor and peers, I maxed out on credit hours, but I learned more than just stuff inside the classroom. Here is what I learned:
1. The friends you make during welcome week won’t be your forever friends, and that’s okay.
The first few weeks of school my friends were contained within the four girl suite I lived in, but when things fell apart with my roommate and I had to move, I didn’t really have any friends. At first, this really worried me, but I realized this is completely normal. Maybe you just grow apart from the friends you make during welcome week, but don’t worry, you’ll make new and better friends.
2. Time management is key.
Between classes, clubs, church commitments, weekly devotionals, and a social life, my life is hectic, so google calendar and my day designer agenda were key to keeping myself sane. Find what works for you and keep yourself organized, so when the girl in your 8am forgot about the short essay due next class, you’ve already completed it.
3. Find a group of friends that make you feel comfortable being yourself.
If you can’t share your true feelings or even express yourself around your friends, you need new friends. I’m in the honors program at my school, but most of my friend aren’t in the program. It got to the point where it was never okay for me to talk about my stress or work load because they would just dismiss me because I “signed up for it” by applying to the honors program, so this next semester, I will be looking for friends who allow me to express my feelings without trying to undermine them.
4. If you find a great friend group and grow away from them, that’s okay too.
Around September this past semester, I found a great group of girls that I would have loved to be friends with, but we just grew apart as the semester went on. There still a friendly face around campus, though, and I find it comforting when I get to sit down and catch up with them.
5. Get involved off of campus.
The first month of school was hard for me as I felt I wasn’t completely adjusting to the college life, but after I found a church to attend and became involved in activities with that church, my college city began feeling more like home.
6. Make upperclassmen friends.
There are so many reasons you should make upperclassmen friends. The first, chances are they’ll have a car, which means no taking the bus to Target. Second, they’ll be able to tell you which professors to avoid and what classes are worth taking. Chances are they’ll also tell you what spots in your college city to avoid and how to navigate boy drama when the boy lives right down the hall.
7. Call your parents, often.
This is something I didn’t do enough at the beginning of my first semester. However, by the end of the semester, it became a de-stressing event for me to call and just here my parents talk about what was happening back home.
8. Relish the limited amount of time you have at home when you’re home.
Breaks seem so long when you start the break, but they fly by. Take time to catch up with those that matter most in your life and don’t waste your time at home with people you’d rather not spend your time with.
9. Call your grandma a lot.
My grandma died December 1st of my first semester of college of stage 4 liver cancer, and I regret not calling her everyday, even if I didn’t always have time to call. So maybe you don’t call your grandma, just call the person that means the most to you.
10. If you want people to send you stuff, you have to give them your mailing address.
My recommendation: write your address down on several index cards and hand it to anyone and everyone that might remotely have a chance of sending you mail because in college receiving a package or snail mail is exhilarating.
11. Find a way to connect with your sibling that isn’t the family group message.
When I lived at home, my brother and I didn’t really talk a lot, but when I moved to Virginia he started sending me 8ball requests as a way that we could communicate that was okay with him. He may kick my butt all the time at 8ball, but I cherish every minute he is teasing me about losing almost every game.
12. If you never wore makeup during high school, you’re not going to start wearing it in college.
I quit wearing makeup my sophomore year of high school, but for some reason, I took everything make up related I owned to college with me, and the only time I touched it was to bring it back home over Christmas so it wouldn’t be taking up precious drawer space.
College is a time to learn and experience things in and outside of the classroom, so when life gives you lemons, put them in you’re sweet tea and pay attention to the things college life will teach you.