How to Survive the First Year

 

Once upon a time, there was the end of   high  school  and  the beginning   of   a   new   adventure: college. I remember how excited I was about it; I was even doing a countdown until the day that my life  was  going  to  change forever. On the especial day, I remember someone from the university came for me to the airport, and during the road… my feeling changed surprisingly: what if people think I am weird?, what if I do not become friends with anyone?, what if I do not like my roommates or they do not like me?, what if I do not like the food nor the campus?, what if I do not get the classes? Wow… how many “what if…?” did not come to my mind in those 45-minutes ride. It was awful since it was not as in high school, where you already had  your  friends,  and  perhaps  they  were your groups of friends since elementary school or kindergarten, but at college, you start from zero most of the times. So today, I want to show to every freshman that college is not like fighting in The Hunger Games, or being  in  the  worst  place  as  in  the  maze where Thomas and his friends were trapped in The Maze Runners. Believe me, going to college  is  the  moment  when  you  realized you are in your own by now, and I know many people who study abroad or far away from their homes would understand what I am trying to say. That is why I made this survival guide in order to live happily in your first year, and make that time memorable.

1. Personal Belongings

One of the first things you have to idealize at the moment of going to college is the notion of what you are going to take with you. At first, I remember having the idea of what I was going to bring with me… but things changed at the moment of real packaging. The best advice at this moment is to take what you love or want to have with you: the things that characterized you as yourself. If you are a really kind of family- girl, take pictures or stuff that reminds you of your beloved ones. Or if you are a girl who likes to paint or to dance, bring the enough materials because there are going to be moments where you would like to get out of the College World, and doing what passionate you is the best. Even, if you are of those girls who likes overalls, as I am, but you are too shy to wear them because of the “what is the people going to say?,” do not worry about it; overalls  are even coming to fashion  again.  Also,  something  that  you have to keep in mind is that you are taking YOUR things, and what other people think about them, it is up to them, but you have to be YOU. As Dr. Seuss once said: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.” Do not forget to bring not only what you need like clothes, shoes, laptop, but also what makes you the extraordinary person you are.

2. Housing

That  is  one  of  the  dreaming  parts  of being at college where most of the freshman students live at the college campus or in the surroundings. Then, there are these movies or the typical scenes of Nickelodeon’s Zoe101 and the fantastic dorms. Not many times  it  gets  like that. Dorms,  at  the first sight are even creepy, scary; I mean, you are living in a new place where nobody knows about  you…  and  you  have to  share room with  unknown people that  could  be serial killers! Ok, maybe that does not happen unless you are in a TV show as Scream Queens. Also, there is that exclusively and intimate moment when you meet you room: the  walls  empty,  the  windows  close,  the bed’s solitude of not being used since Spring… or even Fall, and the way your closet looks at you as if there is going to be a monster at the moment you fall asleep. Ok… this may be also something from another movie or TV show. But there is a real dead: your room has to reflect what you and your roommates would be; besides, every one of you will have their space so everyone could decorate, organized as they want (as long as it does not disturbed the others). After you ended organizing your books, clothes, and other  belongings,  you  will  realize  that  it even becomes something warming, since it would be your place.

3. Friends

At the beginning of the article I mentioned my doubts on making friends… the classical “what if nobody likes me?,” “What if I do not become friends with anyone?,” among others. Nevertheless, it is the   easiest   and   funniest   deal   ever.   I remember I made friends after the blessing of the dorms where I lived when our priest got into the boys area and the girls had to stay outside. I looked at this group of girls: they all looked my age, and they looked so different between each other. Inside of me there was a mini-me telling me “go for it!” and eventually, I took the first step: “are you freshman?”  and  they  luckily  said  yes.  I know that questions can sometimes be kind of risky since maybe the people you are asking  are  not  freshman  year,  but  in  my case, those girls became my first friends at college. Today, almost finishing my sophomore year, they are still my closest group  of  friends.  Sometimes  people  have this idea that no one would be accepted at college because, you know… they are freshman,  but  I have learned  that  college, especially the small ones, are full of friendly people waiting for you to say hello.

4. Activities

Joining activities besides the classes, tutoring, work-study, and others are very important in order to keep a balance between studying and having a life, practically. In college, just as in some high schools, there are  sports  team  such  as  basketball, volleyball, tennis, and chess; there are also clubs such as theater, newspaper, choir, eco-club, even a club for each career. In some universities, there are the famous sororities and fraternities; and in others there are households like in mine. College life guarantees you having you in a busy mode on for the rest of your undergraduate, but not only in getting a good GPA, but also entertaining yourself, doing new activities, meeting new people, and compelling new experiences.

5. Family

There is always a moment in your freshman  life  where  people  tend  to  get  a little   homesick.   By   homesick   I   mean, missing your family as if the world is ending in that exactly moment. How can someone know if she or he is falling into homesickness? It is easy to notice it by the following symptoms:

1.  Everything that remembers to your family makes you feel sad, touchy, or makes you cry in your bedroom.

2. The  words  “mother,”  “father,” “sister/brother,” or even finding someone with the name of your dog can make you feel sentimental about it      (those   apply   in   very   drastic moments).

3. You cannot handle yourself at the moment  of  watching  a  sad  movie that reminds  you  the activities  you used to do with your beloved ones.

4.   You feel anger (or in the worst cases,

hate) for those ones who have their relatives so close to them, and they do  not  do  anything to  be  in  touch with them.

If you have ever felt, or get close to any of those symptoms, do not worry; technology has made things easier for you. Never forget you have phone, WhatsApp, Skype to catch up with  your family;  also,  you have  your freshman friends who can be in the same situation, and can support each other. Furthermore,  you  are  not  in  a  jail  either where you cannot receive any visit, or that you cannot get out of the campus to go home on long weekends. Sometimes, doing other activities can be a really good medicine. Remember:  it  is  not  as  if  you  are  in  a different planet, or that you will never see them again. It is true that it is painful at first, but you must keep the illusion that the semester will eventually end.

Indeed, freshman year is not exactly easy or movie-style, but eventually, it is one of the best moments that an undergraduate can live; and believe me, sophomore year and the followings are going to be much better, but the first one is the beginning of everything. Most important: you are never alone; just think in the character I mentioned in the beginning: never forget that even Katniss had Peeta and Rue in The Hunger Games; and Thomas was never alone in the maze. It does not matter how friendly you are in the first year: if you become popular, nerd, punk, old-fashion or whatever. Remember:   you   are   not   alone   in   this journey; there will always be people facing the same situation as you are. Welcome to College and have fun!