I graduated high school in 2017, and I can not believe that I will be graduating this May. It feels like I just came to HPU as a freshman. During college, you’ll grow as a person in ways you may not have anticipated. In high school, I was shy and quiet. I was the stereotypical introvert. Now, I’ve graduated to the ambivert level. If you told high school me that I would be a student ambassador and make videos about HPU, I would have thought you were crazy. Looking back at how I have grown as a person has made me realize some things that I could have done better.
#1: Connections, connections, connections!
I can not stress enough how important it is to make connections with people while you’re in college. Whether they are students, staff, or faculty, it’s important to be kind and talk to everyone. Many people have the illusion that just because you go to college, you’ll be successful. That is far from the truth. The key to being a “successful” person is getting to know people. You never know, that quiet student could save your life one day. That strict professor could hook you up with a job when you graduate. The summer before this school year started, I was scrambling to look for an apartment. I did not want to be in the dorms for the 4th year. While I was scrolling through Instagram stories, an acquaintance of mine posted that her parents were leasing a studio in Kakaʻako. I didn’t know her very well. We were in the same group when we went to Japan for a government-paid trip. If I had never befriended her or bothered to get her Instagram, then I probably would not be writing this article from the apartment I’m in right now.
#2: Go Abroad!
Whether you spend some time abroad for a week or study abroad for a year, spend some time abroad while in college; I know it can seem scary to many of you, but trust me, it is worth it. I never got the opportunity to vacation abroad growing up. It was either too much money for my family, or there wasn’t enough time. Going abroad will not only grow you as a person but also expand your worldview. If you’re worried about the financial cost, don’t worry. There are plenty of scholarships out there. Applying to study abroad is similar to applying for college. You have to plan ahead, choose the country, the university, the program, the costs, and the essays. But all that work will be worth it. Once you graduate, it can be hard to take more than a one-week vacation to another country. I’ve met so many working adults that regretted not studying abroad because they don’t have the time or money to do it now. HPU offers over 400 programs in 60+ countries! If you’re feeling nervous about committing to a semester or full year, try short-term trips during school breaks! Also, every now and then, special opportunities pop up. In 2019, 22 students and I got the chance to travel to Tokyo and Fukuoka, Japan, for free during the break. That was my first time abroad, and it was so fun! Going abroad will also heighten the interests of employers. Seeing that you went abroad will invoke them to ask questions about what you learned and how it helped you as a person.
#3: Not everyone is your friend
Okay, you may be confused by this but let me explain. Before I went off to college, my mom told me this very useful piece of advice. “There is a big difference between a best friend, a friend, and an acquaintance. Don’t mix those up. You’re not likely to have this huge group of friends.” We all grew up watching TV shows and movies that portrayed college in an unrealistic way. Typically, the media portrays freshmen having a core group of about 4 to 5 friends that stick together until senior year. When I talk to some freshmen, many of them are hurt that they don’t have that core group yet. I understand the disappointment. It is one of the harsh realities of growing up. As you get older, you have more responsibilities. School, work, relationships, health, finances, the list goes on. You’ll see how the people around you prioritize their responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, you should be kind to everyone regardless, but not everyone is your bestie. If you want to get boba or go out to eat, who do you immediately think about? Maybe 2 or 3 people popped into your head. There’s nothing wrong with having those 1 or 2 people that you constantly hang out with and can spill your darkest secrets to. In fact, they could be a lifelong friend (s). Even though my mom hangs out with a lot of co-workers and people that she’s met throughout the years, she still loves talking to her one bestie from college. Who, ironically, is my (?) godmother.
I hope these three pieces of advice helped you all. When I look back at my time in college, those stood out to me the most. Make sure to take care of yourself and keep yourself grounded. The world is a jungle, and you’re just starting to explore it.