Dear BU: A Thank You for My Freshman Year

I was one of those kids who could not wait to get out of high school and senior year couldn’t go by fast enough. I got hit with senioritis about halfway through my sophomore year once I decided BU was absolutely 100% where I wanted to go to college. When last August rolled around and I packed the final things I was bringing to Boston I was so excited I was willing the days to go by faster. Let’s keep in mind here I’m an emotional person and I hate being away from my parents; I’d lived in the same town and house my entire life so moving to Boston was huge for me, and I was shocked I hadn’t had a panic attack or two leading up to move-in day. This feeling of bliss quickly came crashing down as my parents began saying they were leaving once we had set everything up in my dorm room. I started bawling and kept at it all the way to Marsh Plaza where I was meeting my group for a program I was doing. The next few days included a lot of me begging my mom to let me come home and her saying to just give it time. I didn’t think it was going to get better and I didn’t think I was going to adjust. But mothers really do know best and after a few weeks, I was completely comfortable and happy at BU.

I’m a tour guide here at BU and the last thing we do on a tour is talk about why we chose BU. My answer is always that BU has become my home. I’m dreading having to go home for the summer because I’m going to miss my friends, this campus, and even my classes. I feel like college is a lot like a wedding dress – when you find the right one, you just know. I know BU is the right place for me. I’ve known it since my first visit during my junior year of high school. And I know it now as I finish out my last few weeks of my freshman year.

So…

 

Dear BU,

I can honestly say freshman year was nothing like I expected. None of my older friends had gone to BU, and obviously, every college and every person is different, so I had no idea what to expect. I had this idea in my head that I’d have my group of friends, we’d do everything together, and I’d have friends sprinkled in my class. I’d meet that cute boy who worked as an office assistant, my GPA would be the same as high school, I’d have all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted and that I was absolutely not going to take an 8 a.m. class ever again. Boy, was I wrong.

Something I’ve learned this year is that you just kind of have to go with things. I went to school with the same kids my whole life and school days were so structured. College is nothing like that. You make your own schedule, go to classes when you want, and have huge chunks of time in the middle to do whatever. In college, the structure isn’t created for you, you have to create it for yourself. You have to learn how to budget your time between classes, homework, a job, friends, and sleep. In high school, I was the girl who did everything from theater to sports to yearbook. Here, I’m involved in one club and that is more than enough for me.

Something I never realized is that when you have all this excess time and freedom you procrastinate more. I’ll have 3 hours between classes and I’ll say I’m going to do homework and I just don’t end up doing it because I don’t have a teacher telling me to do it. College is really all about you structuring your whole life. And that’s a terrifying thought. I’m used to having teachers ask how my assignment is going or my mom asking what my homework is. Here professors have a lot of students and, while they do care, they can’t check in with everyone every day – it's simply not possible. And my mom isn’t here to force me to do homework or get up in time for that 8 a.m. I, in fact, ended up taking.

I’m lucky in that I did find an amazing group of friends here at BU, but because I’m so shy I don’t have a ton of friends in my classes. It takes me a while to warm up to someone, but I’m glad I did because during the past week I’ve become friends with some of the girls in my English class, and I’m so thankful for that. I misjudged these girls at the beginning of the semester and thought they were know-it-alls, but I was wrong. I’ve learned to not judge people because I wouldn’t want them to do that to me. I do tend to spend the majority of my time with my core group of friends between dinner and studying and our various weekend activities, but I also like having my alone time or time with my other friends. I was so used to being with my best friends every day in high school and I thought I’d want to carry that over into college but I’ve really learned to enjoy my time in my dorm room by myself for studying, watching hockey, or napping. Growing up means learning about yourself and I’ve learned that I don’t always need to be around people and that everyone needs their space.

As for grades… college is a whole different game from high school. It’s like going from baseball to soccer. As I said, I’ve learned to just go with it. Is my GPA as good as it was in high school? No. Am I okay with that? I’m learning to be. I’m doing my best but the reality is that college classes are hard. Exams are hard and assignments are hard. Late work isn’t always accepted and you don’t get 100% just for turning something in anymore. You actually have to do well and it’s not always easy, but the effort is worth the reward. It’s also about adjustment. I’m doing much better this semester grade-wise compared to last semester, and while I’m not happy about last semester, I can’t be too hard on myself. Moving away and learning to be on your own is a huge adjustment and it’s going to affect all areas of your life. It took me a while to adjust and my grades suffered a bit in the beginning, but I needed that time so I have to accept it, move on, and work harder now that I’m comfortable with the college lifestyle.

Those 8 a.ms… they’re hard. I had to be up at 6: 30 every day for high school so I figured 8 a.m. classes would be no big deal. But wow, I hated myself for signing up for it. I loved the class, it was writing about Disney, but please keep in mind no one is forcing you to go to class anymore; you go when you want in college, and if you think signing up for an 8 a.m. is already setting you up for failure because you’re going to skip it, then do yourself a favor and don’t take it. I got through the semester, but it’s not something I’m planning on doing again. I want to give myself the best chance at success and for me, that means no classes before 9 a.m. or before I’ve had my coffee.

As for that boy who is an office assistant… well, I turned out to be an office assistant and there has been no boy. I don’t have the time and honestly, boys haven’t been much of  a concern. We’re all young and just want to have fun. I’m not focused on finding a relationship when there are so many other things for me to focus on in terms of myself, my goals, and my friends. When the time is right I wholeheartedly believe the right one will come along. But you know… there’s always those crushes.

Things change a lot when you go to college. It may be exactly what you expect or completely different. You may hate it, you may love it, or you may not really care. But it’s about you. It’s about how you wanna spend these four years and the rest of your life. It’s about finding your people and who you wanna be and what you wanna do. College has changed me in so many ways – I’m more independent and I just know myself better. You learn a lot about yourself when you spend this much time on your own.

College has introduced me to amazing opportunities, classes, professors, and people. It’s introduced me to the gateway to the rest of my life. It’s introduced me to a whole new me. And I love it and couldn’t be happier.

So, to BU, thank you for putting me through the hardest year of my life emotionally, mentally, physically, and sleep-wise. It has been hell and crazy and amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here’s hoping sophomore year is just as good, and I’ll see you in the fall.

Love,

Your incredibly grateful and changed student, Arianna Bouchard