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College can be terrifying, especially for freshmen. As a senior at the International Christian University (ICU), I speak from experience. I have failed and succeeded in many aspects of my college career, and I am here to help you by sharing what I have learned. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before college started.

1. Focus On Self-Confidence

Having self-confidence is a key for literally anything, yet I did not know until recently. Confidence is based on accomplishments, so work hard, immerse yourself in things that interest you, and become skilled at them. Building confidence could be challenging, but going through life with low self-esteem, constantly doubting yourself, and not believing you are worthy of quality relationships and opportunities is infinitely harder. If you have confidence, it is so much easier to get to know yourself, and it will come in handy when you want to challenge something new. You can be more decisive and thoughtful, enabling you to make more informed decisions regarding activities and people.

2. Take That Random Class That Interests You

If you have no idea what you think you would like to do, take a class that interests you (especially if it has an excellent professor). You never know where it will lead, and at the very least, it may simply be a class you enjoy. This is your time to explore new subjects, seize the opportunity.

3. Find a Student Organization to Be Part Of

One of the things that I can be proud of myself is that I became a member of Her Campus @ ICU. Participating in a student organization teaches you leadership skills and helps you broaden and improve those you already have. You will learn the best way to communicate with both individuals and large groups, and you will gain emotional intelligence as you develop new relationships. The group does not have to be big; being part of a student community is important.

4. Commitment Is Not Everything

“Do not quit. You have got to commit to one thing to look good on your resume.” I often hear from people in Japan. It is sort of accurate in Japanese culture that people will assume you are a hard worker and royal if you are committed to one thing. However, I believe that it is more important if you step forward to do something new or challenge something that interests you. From my experience, challenging new things will lead you to find the career path that works best for you. 

5. Let Go of Toxic People

It is so easy to get swept up in the social scene in college and to subscribe too much value to running in certain crowds and being in certain clubs. It is also easy to rationalize spending time with people who do not treat you and others well because they are part of a certain social circle. If people are unkind to you, talk about you behind your back, etc., simply you do not need to spend time with them. Surround yourself with good people who want the best for you and make you feel good about yourself. Find friends who share your interests and ambitions and support you through the ups and downs and plateaus in your life. I have met many amazing people at ICU, including some who I believe are staying friends forever. 

6. Travel and See the World

Traveling gives us a chance to meet new people, experience new cultures, and gain different perspectives. It allows us to better understand how the seemingly insignificant decisions we make back home affect the rest of the world. Travel can also help us appreciate the things that many of us may unknowingly take for granted each day. I lived abroad and traveled to many countries; the experience helped me open my mind and gain global perspectives. Perhaps even more significantly, college is one of the best times to travel. Finding opportunities to go abroad can be more difficult after entering the professional world. Besides, there is no time like the present to take advantage of opportunities. 

7. Do Not Need to Be Perfect

I have seen many freshmen trying to be perfect and go through tough times. Working hard is a good thing and helps you grow, but seeking perfection stresses you out. It can contribute to or cause depression. If you quit trying to be perfect, you will feel better and enjoy your life and education more. It also helps you to sets boundaries on what you should and should not do. Refusing perfection lets you say “no” to things you do not have time for. It also helps you prioritize your life and make your time management a lot more accessible. 

Enjoy! College Life is Really, Really Short!

“College life is short,” I have heard from many people, which is very accurate. It is such an exciting time in your life where you can learn a great deal about the world and yourself. I learned a lot in my four years at ICU, but there is so much I wish I knew that would have prepared me for this era of life and how to use it to better prepare for young adulthood. I hope these 7 things will help new students who will have wonderful campus life as I did!  

Lastly, this article will be my last piece at her campus before I graduate, so I would like to say a few words. 

I am grateful to all of my HCICU members who made my campus life very meaningful and my friends for incredible 4 years and great memories. Thank you!

Ayaka Kuroki

ICU Japan '22

Hi! I am Ayaka and am currently a senior at International Christian University, majoring in sociology. I was born in Japan, grew up in Singapore, Taiwan, and UAE-Dubai. I simply love nature, traveling, eating, and singing.
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