Sunday, August 12, 2018

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

Before I started college, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I didn't think to read blog posts or watch Youtube videos from current college students, and I only relied on the knowledge I received from people I knew in high school. I most definitely was one of those people that romanticized the thought of attending a new school and having a fresh start, expecting it to be similar to the experiences people in TV shows and movies had.

Since I went to a small, private high school, moving away from home and living at school really appealed to me. I wanted the opportunity to branch out and meet new people and experience a different atmosphere. Although I still enjoy all of these things, looking back on this now, I find this sort of funny since I am more of an introvert. However, I had the mindset that college was going to be so much better than high school and live up to the high standard most people my age held it to. I think the problem is that I clouded my judgment about college before I even set foot on campus and I don't think this is uncommon for incoming freshmen.

I'm not saying I was disappointed in my experience, but I do wish I had done more to accurately prepare myself before I began school. I know what you're probably thinking, is it even possible to prepare yourself before beginning a new journey like this? While there are never any guarantees, I think there are a few steps you can take to minimize stress and accept the opportunity for what it truly is without being unrealistic. With this being said, I've created a list of things I wish I had known before starting college.

It's Okay to Feel Nervous 
I was so excited about moving in my freshman year that the possibility of getting nervous didn't set in until the morning I packed my car up to move in. As soon as I pulled out of my driveway, I could already tell that I was going to be really nervous by the time I arrived at school. I had spent so much time convincing myself that I was fine and that I'm supposed to be excited about leaving home that I didn't allow myself to take this change at my own pace. Once I did realize how nervous I was, I instantly became judgmental of myself because you're expected to be jumping for joy at the opportunity to leave home and meet new people. However, it's okay to feel nervous during this transitional period in your life and you are not the only person experiencing this feeling, despite what others may lead you to believe.

Missing Home is Normal
For whatever reason, missing home is usually looked down upon when you move away to college. You're supposed to be so excited about leaving home and starting school that the thought of missing your hometown shouldn't even cross your mind. I'll gladly be the first person to tell you that I missed home as soon as my family left on move in day. This was the first time I was away from my family and childhood home for an extended period of time without knowing anyone in my surroundings. If you feel nervous about moving away from those closest to you and find yourself missing them once they're gone, just know that it's okay. You can't be expected to feel comfortable with people you just met in one day and completely disregard those closest to you all at once. Everything takes time but eventually you will adjust to new people and a new surrounding. 

You Can Be Close With Your Roommate 
Another one of the most common stigmas about college is that you don't want to be best friends with your roommate. While I understand this to a certain extent, if you can naturally see yourself being close friends with your roommate then there's no reason not to be. My freshman year roommate and I had a lot in common and lived together really well. She's one of my best friends from college and I wouldn't trade our friendship for anything. Create a balance. Have multiple friends, different activities and interests to break up your time spent together, and it will be possible to have a close friendship with your roommate if you chose to.

Don't Be Afraid to Meet People 
I'm generally pretty shy when I first meet people and it takes me a little while to open up to them. I didn't realize how important it was to keep my dormroom door open or mingle with the other people on my floor until a few days had passed. Reach out to as many people as you can and just be friendly to those you come in contact with, especially in the beginning! 

You Don't Need Your Entire Wardrobe 
Packing for college was one of the most difficult parts of the move in experience for me. I love clothes and am not capable of packing lightly. I found that I didn't end up wearing everything that I brought to school with me, especially during my first year when I overpacked the most. Try to be as realistic as possible when packing for school and only bring items that you know you'll wear frequently and get a lot of use out of. If you live relatively close to school, you can always get more items the next time you're home for a break or a weekend. 

You Do Need a Raincoat and Comfortable Shoes 
Both of these are necessities. I thought an umbrella would be fine, but I learned the hard way after the first heavy rainfall on campus that soaked through my clothes and shoes. The wind on my campus was so strong that my umbrella broke anyway and left me exposed to the rain. A raincoat solves basically all of your weather problems and can be a cute jacket if you invest in a quality one. Comfortable shoes are just as important. During the day, you'll be doing a lot of walking to- and-from classes and this can lead to blisters. I've also learned this the hard way by wearing uncomfortable shoes to class because they were cute. Knowing me, this won't stop anytime soon, but it's nice to have a comfortable pair of sneakers or Birkenstocks as an option.

You Do Need a Winter Coat 
This was another one of the things I thought I could do without. Before college, I never wore a winter coat. I had plenty of peacoats or trench coats for style but hadn't purchased a coat for warmth since I was much younger and played in the snow. Depending on where you attend school, winters can be brutal. This past winter, it snowed almost every week on campus and a winter coat was an essential.

Save your Money 
I wasn't the best at doing this my freshman year. I remember going to the mall with friends during the first week of school and easily blowing $100 in under an hour. I also wasn't working at the time and this led to a little damage to my bank account. I learned to save better as the years went on and began working on campus to earn more money.

Get Ahead of the Game 
Most people that know me personally know that I'm a workaholic. I'm that person that is always stressing about homework and dedicates a lot of my free time to completing it. During my freshman year, however, I wasn't as good with time management as I was from sophomore and on. After a few weeks of classes, I realized how important it was to create a set schedule for homework and stick to it.

Don't Feel Pressured
This is the most important takeaway from this post. Do not ever feel pressured to do anything in college. While I was never pressured, there were definitely times when I felt judged for not enjoying some things that my fellow classmates did. If you don't want to do something like attend a party, you shouldn't feel obligated to go. Definitely socialize and have fun but do this with the right people who truly care about you and your level of comfort.

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Thanks so much for reading! I'm going to continue writing college-related posts for a few weeks so if you have any questions or requests, please let me know! 

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