Freshman Year in Review

I’m already a quarter of my way through my college career, and it’s strange. This is only my Freshman year, but the days and weeks have blurred by like someone is fast-forwarding through my life. Looking back, I’m sad that this year is over but excited for the years to come. Arriving on campus as a Freshman, everything was shiny and new. Every corner held possibilities of what I could do, who I would become. Some of that newness has worn off, but I wouldn’t call myself a cynic just yet. Now that my first year is over, I can look back and see the divide between my expectations of my idealized Freshman year and what actually happened and all of the little surprises in-between. Here’s my reflection of my Freshman experience.

First, the little things:

I got tired of the cafeteria food quicker than I thought I would and discovered that popcorn can definitely sustain life. I ended up not using some of the things I dragged along with me (such as not having time to read the dozen books I brought from home).I consumed more coffee and caffeine than I thought I ever could (hello, double shot of espresso). My professors were all as wonderful as I thought they would be and more. I still get winded after walking up a couple flights of stairs, but I am better at navigating my way through crowds. The bell tower still makes me jump if it goes off when I’m walking underneath it. I didn’t have the Pinterest-perfect dorm room, but it was fun to decorate and personalize and turn into my mini home. Now, the bigger things.

Adjustment:

I adjusted better and more quickly to college life than I thought I would, and I wasn’t as homesick as I thought I would be. I am fairly close to home, though, but I have just enough distance from home to make me feel like I can have a separate life and a new start.  Because I’m an introvert, dorm life did get tedious after the first semester because it’s pretty much impossible to stay away from people, but overall it wasn’t as horrible as I expected. Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t miss home at all. My high school senioritis-ridden self would have scoffed if she had been told that there would be days when she’d be nostalgic for high school, but it’s true. I love being able to make my own schedule and be trusted to take care of myself, but I feel like it was easier for me to get academically and socially burned out. In high school, the bell rings at the end of the day and you can separate yourself from classes until the next day. When you’re a college student living on campus, it’s hard to separate yourself from academic stress since you can’t physically separate yourself. Still, being around people all the time isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the environment creates some very close relationships.

Friends:

I didn’t know I could grow so close to friends until this past year.  My friends brought out spontaneity and joy I didn’t realize I had. When I went home for winter break, my mom pinched my cheeks and said that it looked like my face had filled out more. I think it’s because I’m smiling more than I ever have. Of course, I didn’t stay close friends with everyone I met during my first few weeks at Belmont, but that’s normal for any group of friends, especially friends from back home. I quickly realized that it is difficult to stay in touch with friends at other schools, but that’s natural because our lives had diverged. I had to realize that making new friends didn’t negate any pre-college friendships I had and that the process of friends fading in and out of my life is something that will always happen no matter what stage of life I’m in.

Academics:

The summer before college, I told myself that I would be super productive and that I would always put my best effort into all of my work and that I would never procrastinate. Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen. I’m putting less pressure on myself than I did in high school, but I didn’t exactly set realistic goals for myself. I’m still learning how to learn, and it’s a process that will take more than two semesters to figure out what studying and learning strategies work for me, how to best manage my time, and how to balance my academic life with my social life.

Regrets:

Even though my Freshman year was amazing, I do have some regrets. I feel like there were opportunities I didn’t jump at that I should’ve, either because I was nervous, scared, not confident, or just lazy. But some unexpected opportunities did come up, like writing for HerCampus. It’s taken me until now to realize that Freshman year isn’t necessarily about jumping in and snatching every single scrap of an opportunity in order to get ahead, but to figure out what you want and what steps you need to take to get there. Freshman year gave me a new perspective on who I am, what I want, and what changes I need to make in order to push myself in the direction I want to be. And because I’ve looked back, I’m excited about looking ahead to the classes I’ll take, the moments I’ll have with my friends, the organizations I want to get involved with, and the places in Nashville I have yet to explore. Freshman year is just the beginning.

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A lover of fountain pens, cookie dough, and cats, Macey Howell is always open to talking about books, movies, and Marvel Comics. Originally from Murfreesboro, TN, Macey moved up to Belmont to study Publishing and is currently in her freshman year. She is an awkward dancer, but will enthusiastically and unabashedly jam out to Come on Eileen and Take on Me.

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