Hey guys! I just finished a 5 mile run, and am now hanging out at Starbucks blogging while sipping an iced green tea. I feel like such a blogger! There are some posts I wanted to work on for a while! Sadly, Starbucks is having terrible internet right now, so I’m typing this up in a word document. Bad Internet=posts getting lost. Believe me, I’ve had a lot of experience with losing posts!
I’ve had a request to recap my freshman year of college, aside from the healthy living stuff. I know there are a lot of readers who are either going into college this year or in the next few years, so hopefully this will give you guys a little idea of what to expect!
We had a week of Orientation before school started. There were various academic activities and opportunities to figure out what classes to take, and there were some ice breaker types of activities. I’m not going to sugar coat it-orientation was awful. Everyone I’ve talked to can look back and agree on this. There was a lot of meeting new people (whose names you probably won’t be able to remember right away, there are just so many), and about 50,000 of the same awkward-ish conversation: Where are you from? Where are you living this year? What are you majoring in? It gets old! Plus, during orientation, there was a little too much downtime for my taste, which can be kind of weird when you don’t really know people at all. I think everyone was ready for classes to start!
I was super on top of all my work for the first few weeks-college work, how exciting! (Yeah, that wears off). I was also super antsy before crew started. This time was kind of a mess for me because getting medically cleared was a pain in the butt-they required blood tests and an EKG. Long story short, I ended up having to get a ton of tests done on my heart (including an MRI), only to find out it was….normal. I was way happier once crew started-it was a ton of fun, and a great way to meet new people.
The only problem with crew is I was tired all the time, and I felt like I didn’t get to know the people in my dorm as well as I would have if I had more time. As far as academics go, Fall Quarter, I for the most part didn’t like my classes (expect for my Nutrition class, but that was only once a week). My Chem class was really poorly taught-everyone walked out of class shell-shocked on a regular basis. The professor was one of those people who is super smart, but has trouble realizing the scope of the students’ understanding. My math class was also the hardest (and worst) class I have taken, before or since. I honestly feel lucky to have survived that class. These things are quite humbling-there are people at college who just GET the stuff.
One thing that is different in college is the type of work. It may seem like you don’t actually have that much work, but there is always more you can and should be doing, such as additional readings, reviewing your notes, etc (I could definitely be better at this). Also, problem sets usually take a lot longer than you’d expect, so starting them on the night before they are due isn’t a good idea (part of why Winter quarter kind of killed me).
In college, times seems to disappear. Looking at your schedule, it may seem like you actually have a lot of time. I promise this is not the case, so don’t overcommit! Also, if you are like me, you may work much better in the library than in your room (I discovered this on the very last day of the quarter).
Funny sidenote-none of my fall quarter classes involved any sort of papers or writing. I just had problem sets! I had to write a final 5 page paper for one of my classes though. I realized I hadn’t really typed much all quarter! I seriously COULD NOT type. Every other word was a typo. I still haven’t fully recovered from this typing hiatus-I still spell “the” wrong every single time. Thank goodness for spellcheck!
In terms of social life, it may take some time to find your group of friends. It may seem like everyone already is super close, but they aren’t! I was actually kind of concerned until Spring quarter when I stopped rowing and was able to spend more time with people in my dorm.
As I’ve talked about before, Winter quarter was kind of a train wreck for me. I took a few more units than Fall quarter and crew definitely picked up and became more of a time commitment. I fell behind in my classes, and didn’t sleep. Of course, at the time it probably wasn’t as bad as I’m making it seem, but I suppose knowing the end result reveals to me what led to that point. I mean, I was still getting all my work done. I just wasn’t spending the time I should have on Chem or Math. Most of my Math problem sets were started the night before they were due, and they were hard/frustrating because the answers were really ugly. And unlike most students who can just stay up all night before the problem set is due, I had my hardest crew workout of the week Thursday morning, so I really didn’t want to stay up late. Wednesday nights were not the best nights!
As you know, the end result was a really bad case of mono. I was just not treating my body well (stress, lack of sleep, tons of workouts), and eventually it rebelled. Long story short, I ended up in the emergency room twice, went to the doctors countless times, had to go home and drop 2 classes (I finished the other 2 through huge extensions on papers and dragging myself to one of my classes), couldn’t get out of bed for 2-3 weeks, watched 10 seasons of Friends in bed, and ended up with Mono, Strep Throat, the stomach flu, a cold, and a sinus and ear infection. Moral: avoid germs as much as possible, and don’t put that much stress on your body! Luckily the classes I dropped I could have been doing better in anyways, but it was a definite wake up call for me, leading to the very difficult decision to quit crew.
Spring quarter was much less stressful for me, but it is kind of weird for me not to be devoting my life to a sport, so I was kind of going crazy. Next year I want to get involved in more student groups-crew was taking up all my time! But in the Spring, I did get to spend much more time with the people in my dorm, which was really nice! I’ve living with a lot of them next year! During Spring Quarter, I also joined a sorority, which introduced me to a bunch of new really nice girls.
For those thinking about rushing- I would recommend at least rushing, but don’t worry if some sororities drop you. Most people are happy where they end up. The rush process was kind of torturous. The first night we had to be there for 7 hours. Those 7 hours were spent having the same conversation with a ton of different girls (flashback to orientation!), and then this process was repeated the next few nights, but for less time each night. Not my idea of fun. Look out for informal rushes-they are often fun activities that you can go to that are an alternative way of joining.
I actually became close to the girls in my sorority really quickly! It is definitely a great way to meet people!
So…as far as advice goes, here it is:
- Your health should be your #1 priority. Academics may seem important, but if you are constantly sick (or get really sick once, like me), you will not be able to do well in your classes.
- Don’t compare yourself to other students. You will probably be challenged much more than in high school, and your peers will likely be smarter than your peers in high school. Just do the best that YOU can do; everyone has different strengths!
- Don’t overcommit-especially the first quarter/semester. This is the time to meet new people and have fun! College is a big enough of a change, so try to keep the added stress level as low as possible.
- On the other hand, joining some student groups is a great way to meet people.
- Other people are just as lost as you are, even if they don’t seem to be. My school has this concept of the “duck syndrome.” In general, my campus appears pretty happy and laid back. The belief is that because everyone seems so happy, people may be really struggling, but appear fine and happy. Above the surface, they are like a duck happily resting on the water, while below the surface, they are kicking around like crazy to stay afloat. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!
- It really is easier to study in the library.
- If you bake in your dorm, you will have 80 instant friends.
- If your dorm does trips or activities, go! They are super fun, and you will meet people.
- Do homework with other people. Odds are there is someone in your dorm who can help you with whatever subject you are struggling on.
- Freshman year is a time of exploration. This is the time you can be a little crazy, with the excuse that you are a freshman. This is a time you can find yourself, apart from your parents. Note: I am not recommending you party every night of the week. Just consider trying new things and be open to new experiences and new people.
- Make sure you have your key at all times, even when you shower. Just because your roommate is there when you leave, doesn’t mean she’ll be there when you return. I’ve never been locked out in my towel, but you hear horror stories.
- Be a good roommate. You don’t have to be best friends, you just have to be courteous. Gross smells are not okay. Try to be somewhat neat. If you have a problem, voice your concerns politely-it is much better than letting problems stew. Set some general ground rules at the beginning of the year if necessary. Be respectful of your roommate’s sleep schedule. I also recommend buying earplugs and an eye mask, so if your roommate is up late working, you can sleep.
- Have fun!