10 Things I Learned My Freshman Year of College

My freshman year of college has been a memorable one. For sure, I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything. I have learned so much about who I am. I’ve really gotten to know myself on a deeper level, and I think that’s part of what college is about. It’s been a long year, but at the same time, I don’t know how we’re already at the end. This second semester has truly flown by, and as the end is approaching, I’m getting super emo over leaving. But as I love to reflect, here are some important lessons I’ve learned my freshman year of college…

  1. 1. I adapt to change much quicker than I thought

    This was something I came to realize pretty early on. The first few days of college were hard, I’m not gonna lie. I had my moments when I doubted if this was for me. It’s totally normal. But in a matter of a week I was walkin’ around campus feeling super confident. I did not imagine being able to adapt so quickly to a whole new environment, 6.5 hours from home, on my own for the first time in my life. I was proud of myself, and to this day it still amazes me how quickly I was able to adapt.

  2. 2. I can be very independent

    Independence; a concept we’re all forced to become familiar with soon after the journey of college begins. We’ve really never been on our own and truly independent in our lives up until this point. It’s scary at first, but you learn a lot about yourself in being alone. You have to become comfortable with being by yourself. It’s harder than it sounds but it’s so rewarding. I’ve learned I’m very okay with doing many things on my own, I even prefer it sometimes, and that’s totally okay. In fact, it’s healthy!

  3. 3. I also need to be around people much more than I thought

    In contrast to my previous statement, I’ve also learned I crave being around people just as much, if not more, than being alone. In college, you are constantly around people. There are very few moments of true alone time. I came to school thinking I wasn’t the kind of gal who needed or even wanted to be around people 24/7. College exposes you to so many different people. However, as you grow into the person you want to be, and find your crowd, the people at school become your second family. I’ve found I’m so much happier when I’m around others. My mood sky rockets and I’m not trapped in the confines of my thoughts, something that can tend to happen when I’m alone for too long. College made me realize I’m much more of a people-person than I thought.

  4. 4. Being present can be difficult, but is so important

    This applies not only to college, but to life in general. Especially in college, time flies by. I feel like I was moving in just yesterday and all the sudden I’m sitting here studying for finals. Being present can be difficult to do when we are constantly on the move and thinking/stressing about the next thing; but it’s so important. Appreciate the now because you’ll miss it tomorrow. Lately, I’ve been making the extra effort to stop, look around, take in the special moments with my friends, a beautiful day on the quad and any small instants that I know I’ll wish I can go back to. We’re only freshman once, gotta enjoy every last second.

  5. 5. Motivation is everything

    Kinda ironic as I’m sitting here writing this article instead of studying for finals but… motivation in college is truly everything. You are in charge of you and there’s no one else holding you accountable. You have to find the motivation within yourself to get stuff done, prioritize and have good time management. In order to be able to do that, you really have to know yourself. I’ve learned what drives me, and where and when I get my best work done. It was all through trial and error and experimentation to learn more about who I am; one of the great wonders of college.

  6. 6. Keeping busy is the best distraction

    This especially comes in handy during times of homesickness. For an out-of-state gal like myself, packing up and moving 6.5 hours from home was nerve-racking. I went to a school no one else from my hometown was going (which is what I wanted). However, that didn’t mean it was going to be easy. It took a while to finally fight those homesick feelings and learn how to cope. It took me probably a couple months into second semester before truly feeling at home, and that’s totally normal. I have learned that keeping busy is the best distraction for homesickness. Don’t allow your mind to wander and get sad. Fight through and keep yourself busy with school, exciting clubs, friends, and before you know it, you’ll have built a home for yourself; one you’ll be sad to leave once the year is over ☹.

  7. 7. Work smarter not harder (give yourself breaks)

    Yet another lesson very relevant during finals week, but all year round as well. There’s a certain stigma in college that if you haven’t been studying at the library for 10 hours straight then you didn’t “work hard.” That may be the case for some people, but not this gal. I work much better in few-hour increments with breaks in between. I like to start studying several days leading up to an exam, so cramming for an insane number of hours the night before becomes unnecessary. Working for less hours, days leading up to an exam, instead of cramming for long hours in the library, is much more beneficial and healthier. So, don’t fall into that trap. Work smarter not harder. And remember it’s okay, necessary even, to take breaks.

  8. 8. Comfort is key

    One of the many things I’ve come to love about college -- no one really cares about how you dress. There are some gals who look put together for every class (power to ya!), and some of us that embrace the comf life! In all honesty, I enjoy putting in the extra effort every now and then, but I wear leggings 99% of the time. Comfort is the most important thing in my opinion, because why not be comfortable all the time?! To anyone who is about to enter college…keep that in mind and don’t pack as many jeans as I did that you’ll rarely ever wear.

  9. 9. Going out-of-state is scary, but so beneficial

    I could write a whole article on this topic alone. For me, I had no intention of going to college 6.5 hours from home, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. JMU has become my second home, something I doubted whether or not I’d ever say. I always hoped wherever I ended up would become a home away from home, however, with schools a little closer in mind. But I fell in love with JMU and suddenly the distance didn’t matter. I knew this would test me and push me to grow. I’m so glad I pushed out of my comfort zone and took a chance. I wanted to break out of my hometown bubble, go where no one else was going and surround myself with new people. Going out-of-state was the best decision I ever made. I proved to myself how strong I really am, and I think everyone should challenge themselves in a way that makes them feel strong like that.

  10. 10. The opportunities provided are truly endless, so take advantage

    I sit and think about this a lot. At JMU there are so many amazing opportunities provided to us as students. There’s great food, a beautiful stadium, a gorgeous campus, endless clubs/organizations, free incredible workout classes, the list goes on and on. It’s a shame to not take advantage of all this school has to offer. Your experience is truly what you make it to be. Spring semester I promised myself I would get more involved and take greater advantage of what’s available. For me, that meant many things. That meant, trying out different workout classes outside of the same couple I always went to. And in doing so, I found my new favorites! UREC is one of the things I will miss most over the summer, and I can’t imagine my life at JMU without it. I also vowed to get more involved. I joined new clubs that have allowed me to pursue my passions. I also vowed to be more spontaneous, whether that meant going to brunch, attending the baseball/softball games, paint nights, laying on the quad with friends every beautiful day I got, I took advantage. That’s what allowed this place to become like home to me. So, please everyone, TAKE ADVANTAGE! Seize moments and enjoy the endless opportunities we have, because it goes by fast. We’re only in college once, and we really are so lucky.