Saturday, August 16, 2014

10 Things I Learned my Freshman Year

 My senior year of college starts in a little over one week. Every time I realize this, I am amazed to think that in two semesters my entire undergrad experience will be over. High school was fun but college has been such a a blast, I'm not ready for it to be over! Even though I know that the friendships I've made will not end after graduation, I'm not exactly ready to enter the real world. Even if the 'real world' just means more schooling at graduate school.

Thinking ahead reminds me of where I was three years ago, just about the start my freshman year. I even wrote a little paragraph of things the summer before college--what I was looking forward to, and things I was worried about. Looking back now it's almost funny how insignificant my worries were.

Your freshman is a very special time in your life. For the first time you're leaving home, living with a bunch of strangers, and making all of your own decisions. There are best friends to make, amazing courses to take-- college is where you start to solidify and defend what you think and believe about the world.

Without further ado, here are ten things I learned my first year of college!

--Should you spontaneously dye your hair because you have a coupon and it's some day that ends in a y?
The answer is always yes. College is a very peculiar time in your life. It is also one of the only times in your life that you can dye your hair bright red/any other obnoxious/unnatural color and it will be alright. You don't have a job to look 'professional' for.

My short lived red hair phase :)

--Best friends take time to make. 
Your freshman year is a crazy period of time where you meet people by the bushel. However, those sometimes awkward ice-breaker events help you make a bunch of acquaintances. It's over the course of the semester that these acquaintances grow into friendships. Even in the separate universe that college sometimes seems to exist, these friendships take time to grow.

Bonding over Quidditch! One of the best parts of this photo isn't shown: I was playing Keeper which meant I got an awesome cape.
--You should start your homework sometime before the night before it's due. 
In high school my classes were never very challenging. I approached my first semester of college expecting the difficulty level to be reminiscent of high school.
Well I was in for a surprise. College courses turned out to be far more challenging than I had expected. This was a great thing-- being challenged is always fun-- but my attitude towards homework took a bit of time to be updated. I sometimes cringe to think about how I didn't even start my physics homework till the night before it was due (spoiler alert: that didn't turn out well). I quickly changed my approach and things got better from there.

This is the best way to study for a physics exam. Perhaps not the most productive, but the yummiest.

--Say yes to new activities. 
Sometime early on freshman year my roommate mentioned she was going to watch a TV show I had never heard of with some people in our student union. The TV show sounded weird but I figured I might as well tag along. The TV show turned out to be Dr. Who-- now one of my favorite TV shows. Not only did I find a really cool show, it also turned out to be a great bonding activity with people I just barely knew.

Side note: This was in September and it was probably like 80 degrees outside. However, this was a scary episode of Dr. Who, thus the cuddling and blanket ;)

--If you see a sign at a local coffee house proclaiming that live Irish music would be performed that night you should drop all homework/other obligations and go. 
Even if the sign turned out to be a lie, hanging out with new friends was worth pushing off homework till later.

--Sign up for (almost) every club/activity/group that looks mildly interesting. 
Freshman year is a temporally amazing time. Somehow I managed to: (a) be in the wind ensemble, (b) take piano lessons, (c) be in a small ensemble, (d) sing in my church's choir, (e)play some in the orchestra, (f)join the Qudditch team (sometime I don't like to admit to, but since I've already blogged about it, I figure all hope is lost), (g)join my church's college group, (f) and, you know, classes and that.
Looking back I'm not sure how I didn't die but the special thing about freshman year is that while your classes might be hard, the work load is nothing compared to the coming years. You're getting time to focus on making friends-- something that will disappear as college goes on.

I had the pleasure of playing two clarinets-- at the same time. Just kidding, but these are a B-flat and an E-flat clarinet I was able to play in the orchestra. Lucky for me I always had enough rests to switch between the two clarinets during the pieces.

--Movie nights are the best. 
I recently read an article that advocated not bringing a TV to college your freshman year because if you do you'll be glued to the TV and miss out on life. Which sounds like a personal problem with me. I brought a TV freshman year and I'm glad I did. My roommate and I rarely watched it but it was great for Friday movie nights. We would buy a bunch of junk food and pull down our mattresses to lay on the floor, invite friends over, and have a good time.

Momma Mia night!

--Don't neglect your studies
Freshman year I got B's in classes where I easily could have gotten A's simply because I put minimal effort into them. Freshman year is where you learn how to balance having a life and doing well in your courses-- it takes a while to find a nice balance.

--College parties aren't all they are made out to be in the movies
In fact they generally aren't much fun at all. I never had enough alcohol in my blood to fully enjoy them like some people seemed to be doing. Turns out going to a party sober just means you won't be able to forget the regrettable fashion choices some people are making. This was a big thing for me freshman year-- I felt like I should be going to parties and loving them. Instead, I learned to accept that while dorm/house/off campus parties might be fun for some people, it's perfectly acceptable to skip them and bake cookies with friends instead.

The best part of any party is generally getting ready with friends :)

--There is no one-size fits all plan for how to make the most out of your freshman year. 
One of my pet peeves are those articles that tell you how to be 'pretty/more intelligent/more successful'. There are articles that tell you, if you just follow these steps, you will have a great freshman year. The problem with these articles is that they impose these qualifications on your life. In order to make friends, do X, in order to be happy you should be doing Y. These blanket proclamations don't take into account individuality and differing personalities. There were things I did freshman year-- that awkward Twister ice break, various parties-- that I did solely because I felt like they were things I should be doing. I didn't enjoy them, I felt awkward, and I didn't get anything out of the experience. The perhaps most important lesson I've learned is to not follow anyone else's guidelines on how to enjoy your life. Just because person A wrote an article about how glad they were that they went to ever party//spoke to every stranger they saw at college doesn't mean that you should feel obligated to follow their lead.

Ice skating with some new friends :)

There you have it! Ten lessons I learned my freshman year. Right now I'm recuperating from getting my wisdom teeth out ((so forgive any stupid grammar/spelling mistakes. I blame the drugs)). However, I still have at least two more craft tutorials to write, so stay posted!

Thanks for reading :)

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