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My first year of college has taught me many lessons, and left me with almost as many questions. So now, with the second semester almost over, I come to you with the lessons this challenging year has left me.

1. the Freshman 15 is very real

I’m not exactly sure if the dining hall food is to blame or if it’s the fact that I’ve been mostly living off of Starbucks and Biggby, but trust me, unless you’re making a conscious effort not to gain weight, it seems to be part of the freshman experience.

2. You will get lost

This will mostly, but not exclusively, happen a lot during your first month in college. During this stressful but thrilling time, you’ll find yourself a new best friend – Google Maps. Everyone will be able to tell you’re a freshman, but at least it won’t take you over 30 minutes to get to your class.

3. Moving far from home is hard

You will feel homesick a LOT. I’ve found this happens more often to out-of-state and international students, but no matter where you’re from, chances are you’re going to miss home, whether that is the people, culture, food, or a physical place. College won’t feel like home at first.

4. friendships are hard

Maintaining friends in college is hard. Everyone is living their own lives and trying to survive on their own, so sometimes friendships don’t come as naturally as they did in high school. It’s harder to run into your friends around campus and even harder to coordinate hangout times.

5. Your schedule will get messed up

Most people sign up for classes later in the day during college. When you add that to the social pressure to hang out with friends all the time, it is the perfect recipe for a badly organized schedule. Make sure to plan a set schedule that you can follow so you don’t end up missing your “morning” class just to get an extra hour of sleep. 

6. Budgeting is important

College is expensive, and with that, I don’t only mean the sticker price. If you are not mindful with your spending, you’ll find yourself spending way too much money on things you don’t really need. From Target runs to door-dashing and going out, it is incredibly easy to spend money in college.

7. Make your dorm your own

You will most likely spend more time in your dorm than what you initially accounted for, so make sure to actually decorate it in a way that fits your personality and works for your lifestyle. You are going to spend most of the year living in a dorm, and leaving your dorm blank will probably not help the adjustment.

8. Going to the dining hall alone is perfectly normal

Most people get a lot of anxiety when it comes to going to the dining hall by themselves, and trust me, I understand that it’s terrifying. But once you do it, you’ll understand that it isn’t nearly as bad as it seems. A lot of people eat alone at the dining hall, and sometimes doing so is a nice break from being constantly surrounded by people.

Victoria is a freshman in the James Madison College on the track to become a Social Relations and Policy and Journalism double major. She is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and her favorite things are traveling, reading and listening to music!
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