I remember move-in day like it was just a month ago…Oh wait, it was. That hot day in August came and went much faster than I expected, ending my summer and thrusting me into the college life with an 88 degree dorm room and a new roommate I had never met before. That day sticks out in my mind for a multitude of reasons. It was the very beginning of the next four years of my life. I was nervous beyond belief. I had spent so much time looking forward to college, I hadn’t thought about how terrifying it would actually be! Now, at the beginning of my sixth week at Kent State, I can look back at that day and laugh. I truly had no idea what I was about to experience and all the small lessons I would learn in the first month I was at Kent. Now I am confident in the knowledge I have gained, and I am excited to keep plugging away at this whole “college life” thing.
To start, I’d like to shed some light on homesickness. I always considered myself to be pretty adventurous. I don’t think I ever defined myself as a homebody. I figured I’d come to college and stay at Kent until Thanksgiving break. Sure, I am close to my family, but I figured I would be just fine without them. WRONG. By the third day, I was sending my mom Bitmoji after Bitmoji. The fact that I wouldn’t be home for longer than a weekend until the end of November began to hit me hard. Just like that, I fell victim to the homesickness bug. I had spent so much time thinking about college and how great it would be I didn’t even consider how much I would miss my home and the people there. Homesickness is real and can hit you out of the blue at any time of day. Everyone is susceptible to it, and there is no magic vaccine (but jeez I wish there was). However, it does fade. Six weeks later, I still text my mom all of the time, but I am beginning to feel less homesick and more at home.
Another thing I have learned during my time at Kent is how unimportant your age and rank seem to be. I was expecting it to be high school all over again. I was ready to keep my head down and go about my business without bothering anyone. However, the upperclassmen here have been incredibly kind and helpful. Most of the time, they just want to hear about your classes and how you are adjusting. I have never had anyone criticize me for being less experienced than them. People here are excited for you, and want to help you. You are encouraged to speak up in classes and join activities that will help you to start building your portfolio right away. Everyone at Kent is ready and willing to help you have the classic college experience. Best part; no one has to know you’re a freshman. Usually, people won’t know your rank unless you tell them. I recently completed a group project with classmates that were freshmen all the way up to seniors. No one knocked anyone down or disregarded someone’s opinion because of their age. This attitude caught me by surprise, but I was so relieved to find out that I wouldn’t be considered less of a person because I was only a freshman.
The leap from high school to college is a big one. Of course, you are going to stay in touch with your pals from your alma mater. If you’re like me, you’re constantly checking Snapchat and Instagram to see what everyone is up to. However, I have found that this can really cause stress and anxiety. You can’t compare your experiences. Checking social media all the time won’t help you to feel more comfortable at your new school. It will only make you worry that you aren’t doing the right thing or making the right friends. You’ll be thinking “Woah look at that cool restaurant! Look at that cute boy she met! Look at all the news friends she made! She looks so happy!” Then you begin to doubt your own experiences and wonder why you haven’t found your new girl squad yet. That is okay. You and your high school friends will not have the same college experiences, and it is perfectly alright to feel a little bit jealous of what is going on in other people lives. But, you cannot compare yourself to their happiness. Who knows if they are even having that great of a time? Social media posts can be very deceiving. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is make the choices that I’m comfortable with and that I’m confident in. I can’t be evaluating myself based on what the people I follow on Instagram are doing. I have to find my place at Kent for myself, and go at my own pace.
Now, since we are talking about school here, I have to slip in a little bit of academic info. Coming into college, everyone asked me about my roommate, my major, what decorations I bought for my dorm and so on. However, no one asked about my time management skills or study habits. Boy, I wish they would have! These are skills that I have now found to be incredibly important. It is so easy to forget what you are actually here to do! You get caught up in making friends and joining clubs and finding all the good places to eat on campus; you forget that your top priority is working towards your degree. You have to put your studies first, and make time for the fun stuff, too! Balance is key here and it is a talent that I wish I would have perfected before moving to Kent. Now, as the semester is picking up, I am finding out that what lights you hang in your dorm are not nearly as important as how hard you study. My desk decorations are now hidden behind flash cards and sticky notes.
Now I am not claiming to be a college expert by any means. I know that by the time Christmas break rolls around I will be writing about a whole other slew of lessons I’ve learned. That is part of the fun. College is all about learning new things, both about yourself and the people around you. This journey at Kent State has been filled with surprises and twists that I did not see coming when I tossed my cap into the air at high school graduation. However, I could not be more excited about the possibilities waiting in the future. So I’ll be here, attending classes and chatting with new people, and taking notes about all that college has to offer.