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College move-in day is a whirlwind experience. You’re feeling a rollercoaster of emotions while carrying 50-pound tubs up three flights of stairs on the hottest day of summer. You just moved out of your home, away from your parents, your friends, your dog, your comfort place.  I remember this day like it was yesterday. Literally. 

The first year of college is no easy task, despite how glamorous so many people perceive it to be. For many people, college is not 1,000 new instant best friends, there aren’t parties every weekend, and you definitely are not experiencing the “best four years of your life” kind of vibe like so many people convinced you it would be. I’ve been there, done that. Trust me. We all have. With that being said, there is one very important thing to remember: you are not alone. College is not an amazing experience for everyone right off the bat! Don’t feel bad when you’re sitting in your room on a Friday night watching a movie with a roomie. I’ve had some of the best memories doing just that. Being a first-year college student on top of dealing with COVID, I had to figure out a lot of tips and tricks to survive my first year of college. And since no one should ever feel like they’re alone in this chapter of life, I want to share them with you. 

Take time on your room. Although it may seem impossible to turn an empty, old dorm into a cozy, liveable bedroom, it 1000% is. It doesn’t take much either. Pictures of you and your friends, a cozy blanket, another source of light besides the bright hospital lights provided. Make it feel like your place. It will make life so much better. You will look forward to going back to your room after a long day of class. 

Get out of your dorm. This may seem a little contradicting to my last point, however, this is still so important. The small shoebox you’re living in is not a good spot to hide out all day, every day. It’s important to find a good balance. I never realized how mentally exhausting it could be just to sit in your room. When you live in such a small space, it’s the only thing you see every day. It’s the place where you do your homework, stress about boys, stay up all night studying, gossiping with your friends. However, at the same time, it’s also supposed to be the place where you relax. That’s a lot to handle for the same set of four walls. Get out of that environment. If all your stress happens in your room, remove yourself from that. You don’t need that energy, especially with all the other stuff you have to deal with. Take a walk, go to Target, go eat ice cream at the CSL. Just get out of your dorm.

Call your mom. My poor mother. She received phone calls and text messages from me all day every day last year. And I had zero shame in that. Neither should you! For many people, leaving your family is the hardest part. I looked forward to calling my mom. It was my little piece of home. If that’s what helps you, bug your mom. She probably misses you and wants to bug you, too. 

Don’t do your homework. This just sounds absolutely crazy. I’m sure no one has told you this before starting your life at college. Don’t get me wrong, though. I am not saying to not do your homework ever. Turn it in, get good grades, do your thing, babe. However, if you get back from class after a long day with the original plans to grind on some readings about Shakespeare but all you want to do is lay in bed, get cozy! The homework will still be there. Chill for a little, refresh yourself. 

College is a crazy time. It’s hard, challenging, and stressful. But it’s also so exciting, freeing, and refreshing. Enjoy it. Don’t take things too seriously. Life will go on. Cherish every part. Because even if you think it’s lame you’re having a movie night on a Friday in your cozy little dorm room, I will be doing the exact same thing. Love your life, babe. These truly are the best four years.

Kate Hatlestad

Augustana '24

I love HC and I love the freedom it allows for all kinds of creativity. Happy to be apart of this team and a group that supports so much of what I do!!!
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