Although I have been counting down the days since I pulled out of the McNutt parking lot back in May, I cannot believe that in three weeks I will be moving into the big, white house on North Jordan and beginning my second year at the happiest place on Earth. It is comical for me to think about myself this time last year, standing in the middle of Target with about six different “Ultimate College Packing List” articles printed out from Pinterest in my hand, trying to figure out how I was possibly going to survive my freshman year of college.
Somehow and someway, I began to figure the whole college thing out and I was introduced to the most incredible people through Bordner 300 and Alpha Chi Omega, I found a new passion in blogging and I was the happiest I had been in a long time, and when the end of the year came around, I could truly say that my freshman year was the absolute best experience thus far in my life. However, despite all of the good that freshman year brought, I also found myself in a toxic friendship, I tried to move off of Bordner 300, I changed my major four times, I failed a Chemistry exam and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to college for, but in the end, everything simply fell into place.
So from a second year sophomore to a first year freshman, here are my five pieces of advice that I would give to anyone going into their first year of college. I give these words of advice as encouragement and in hope that you are able to have a first-year-of-college experience that was as great as mine, or maybe even a better one.
- Your Parents Are Lying, Your Major Does Not Matter
Unless you are a direct admit into your school’s glamorous business school, riveting art school or a musical prodigy, then your parents are not lying and we are all rooting you on, but if you are a straggler like me, you may change your major once or twelve times, take a class called The Black Death, drop a class because you are too tired to study for the midterm or even fall asleep on another student, while eating a bagel because you are hungover on a Tuesday. Do not stress out about your major your freshman year because no one around you knows what they’re doing either, and half of the people a year ahead of you still do not know what we are doing, but we will all figure it out in time. And honestly, if we don’t figure it out in time, who is really complaining about staying another year in college? That’s what I thought. Five years of Little 5, here I come.
- Roommates Are Eh, But Your Dorm Is Home
You are either going to love your roommate, tolerate your roommate or you are going to Google “do I really get free tuition if my roommate dies in the dorm room?” on a daily basis while blatantly ignoring each other’s existence. Since I cannot relate to having roomie of the year, I can only speak for the last two situations and especially for those of you who were ballsy enough to choose a random roommate. First of all, if you have an issue with something your roommate does, talk about it in person as soon as you can; however, do not bring anything up when you’re absolutely irate. Taking in the fact that you’re not going to be the roommate who has numerous sexual encounters while your roommate is in the room, makes the room smell like four-day-old take out food or is as messy as the Clearance rack in TJ Maxx, you have to address these issues with your roommate (without the use of passive aggressive notes) and find a middle ground. Second, if your roommate wants to be your best friend and you’re not feeling it, keep your distance and hope they catch the vibe. In my situation I came into college not knowing a soul around me which allowed me to go out right away, meet a bunch of new people and quickly found my niche. My roommate, on the other hand, did not do the same and was pissed at me by week two for not being her built-in best friend… Awkward. Lastly (and my personal savior of freshman year), find somewhere where you feel welcome, relaxed and happy. Whether this be your neighbor on your floor (or your whole entire floor), a new friend you met during Welcome Week or even the local coffeehouse to just get some personal space, your number one priority is you and your roommate should not determine your freshman year experience. Maybe if you get lucky like I did, your boyfriend will live six doors down and you can convince him to really enjoy twin bed snuggles. All in all, despite your roommate situation, your dorm room is your home for the next year so make it your space, befriend the people on your floor and find humor in all things because a bad roommate will shape you into a more responsible and respectful person.
- Healthy, Happy and Hartzell’s
I know Mother Bear’s Ten Inch Tuesday exists and Baked! of Bloomington delivers, but the Student Recreational Sports Center also exists and the McNutt C-Store has fresh fruit and a salad bar. Keeping healthy snacks in your dorm room, drinking a ton of water and walking to class are great ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle while away at college, but as I have posted about before, the freshman fifteen is not something you should be worried about, but rather shifting your focus to making your health a top priority. A healthy lifestyle is beyond the food you eat and the exercise you take part in, but also includes creating a sleep, academic and personal routine, wearing shoes in the shower, cleaning your room and washing your bedding often, setting various types of goals and not being afraid to ask for help from your Resident Assistant, friends or professors when you need it. If you’re lucky enough to attend Indiana University (and I’m sure that every other school has this), the SRSC provides hundreds of workout machines, a swimming and diving pool and a long list of exercise classes all free of charge with your student ID card, but you know what else your student ID card gets you? Hartzell’s ice cream. Whether you are having a great day and it is beautiful outside and want to celebrate with an ice cream cone or your fighting with your Sigma Apple Pi boyfriend and want to drown yourself in a strawberry shortcake sundae, Hartzell’s is there for you. Health and happiness is all about balance, my friends.
- Being Stuck In High School Is Lame And So Are Toxic Friendships
If the majority of your high school or hometown all went to the same college, then I completely understand hanging out with your high school best friends and keeping your lifetime friend group close, and I totally support that. But if you are the person who is driving home every weekend, traveling to your best friend’s college or having twenty-five of your high school best friends over every weekend, you cannot expect to meet new people, get out of your comfort zone or to create a home in your new surroundings. Side note that I will not go in-depth about for the sake of my sanity and the length of this post, if you are questioning your long distance high school relationship at all, reconsider it. College is an eye-opening experience and you are in college because you are a dedicated, intelligent and brave human being, but you will never be able to get the full effect if you are constantly worried about your past and stabilizing every high school friendship. Going home every weekend is a waste of time, a waste of gas and you will be wasting opportunities to make some of the best friends and best memories of your life. On the other hand, if you are spending all your time putting yourself out there, meeting new people and creating new friendships, be aware of the people you are making friends with. Despite college being significantly better than high school in every single way, toxic friendships still exist and people still tend to only think and care about themselves. When I found myself spending the majority of my time with a person consumed with themselves, who only spoke in a negative manner and created a high anxiety barrier in our friendship, I knew that I needed to walk away. You may not meet your college best friend until junior year, friendships come naturally so there is no need to force them or stay in ones that keep you from growing as a person. Know your worth, hold your ground and surround yourself with people who have nothing but support and for you.
- An Open Mind Is The Best Mind
College is for expanding your mind, so talk to the people you meet about their majors and their hobbies, attend your friend’s art shows and sporting events and learn new things that you did not get the chance to learn in high school (there is a good chance every meeting will have free food). You are going to meet people who are a lot like you and you are going to meet people who have absolute opposite beliefs and values from you, and that is okay. Having an open mind is essential for not only college, but also the real world because there is truly nothing worse than being seen as a judgmental ass to everyone that you disagree with. Get out of your comfort zone, have a kind heart and a bright smile because college is your time and your place to start something new and to make something of yourself.
Although I know that sophomore year is about to exceed every expectation that I have and that living with my best friends in Alpha Chi will be the time of my life, I envy every single incoming freshman and the first-year-of-college adventures ahead of all of you. And remember, you are paying a hell of a lot of money to be there, so have the time of your life (and do your homework).