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10 Things I Learned My First Year in College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.
Your room situation is what it is, and in the end, it does not matter that much.

For the entire first semester, I had a roommate who I just did not get along with. Before coming to college, I was so worried about living in a dorm with a roommate because I did not know what would happen. Even though my fears were in some way realized and I did not have the dream roommate situation I thought was a requirement in college, I was actually okay. I spent time outside of my room exploring my campus and city and meeting new people. I realized that where you live is not that important: what really matters is that you are happy outside of your room. Now, as I anticipate my housing assignment for next year (which is going to be undecided until August), I feel oddly calm. Whatever happens, whether me and my future roommates are best friends or not, I’ve learned to put way less pressure on it.

You don’t need to feel like an imposter.

When I first arrived at this school, I constantly felt inferior and out of place. That was before I realized that a) I am worthy, b) there are stupid people everywhere, even at an Ivy League school, and c) even if I am dumb, it ain’t that deep. As long as I’m living, thriving, making memories, and working on things, who cares?

You will miss home, but not in the ways you’d expect.

I did not miss my family, not even a little (sorry). But I missed driving, making my own food, having a full sized fridge, and not being cold. In the throes of sentimentality, I even wrote an article about my hometown of Los Angeles. Missing home is inevitable, and it is what it is.

Even though you are surrounded by friends, you still have to be proactive if you want to see people.

Everyone at college is so busy. Since all I do is write for Her Campus, I have spent the year shocked and intimidated by my super-involved friends. Everyone always has something going on, but that is not a reason to isolate yourself! There is always time to be social. Find it. Force other people to find it and to make time for you. Half of college, if not more, is about the experiences you have.

You will get the urge to change something about yourself. 9/10 times, you should do it.

It just is how it is. I pierced my own ears and dyed my hair. Both came out fine, so I would recommend doing it. A major bonus? Fundamentally changing your appearance will give you some good material for a Her Campus article. You’ll seem like an influencer, even if you really aren’t.

You will find the places on campus and in your college city/town that feel like home. Use them. Enjoy them.

For me, I found my spots in the corners of libraries, inside cute coffee shops, and in my bed in my dorm room. Having places you know you can retreat to is a huge comfort.

You will hang out with people you don’t really like for the first few weeks. Maybe even the first few months. Or the entire first year. And that’s okay.

First of all: no tea, no shade. You will find your people, as hopeless as it may seem. Just be your authentic self (#quirkygirls).

It is okay to be selfish.

With your time, your emotional energy, and anything else. You don’t owe people nearly as much as you tell yourself, sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


You will want to look back and see how you felt during this time of incredible change. Reading the things I wrote just six months ago is wild. I’m so happy I documented my growth.

Your life will not automatically change or improve just because you move to a new city.

I think we all know this is true, but sometimes, it is nice to hope anyway. Just stop. If you want things to change, you have to do it yourself. The one pro of being in a new place? A change of pace may be just the inspiration you need to do the work you’ve been meaning to do.

Ava Ferry

Columbia Barnard '22

A Los Angeles transplant living in New York City, Ava is a freshman at Barnard College of Columbia University (the best college in the world), and she has no idea what she's studying. In her free time, you can find her watching Netflix, wandering around the city with her headphones in, reading Vogue, scream-laughing, and offending old conservatives with her uncouth language.