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Reflecting on Freshman Year: Focus on What Really Matters

When I first got to ‘Berg I was scared, anxious and super nervous. I always had trouble as a kid making friends, and the idea of “starting over” gave me serious anxiety. I was always a homebody and the longest I had ever been away from home was about a week. I knew that the first semester was going to be hard, but it completely threw me, even more than I had originally planned.

I came to school a week early because of field hockey, and it was one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever endured in my life. It was hot, I was playing hockey for almost 6 hours a day, and the stress of being in a new place with no familiar faces really started to take a toll on me. At first I didn’t cry, but a few days in, the waterworks started. By the time preseason had ended for hockey and everyone started to come to campus for orientation, I was doing better but still missed home. My mom and I FaceTimed every night to help me, and I always told myself I wouldn’t cry, but I always did. As time went on it got easier and easier, and I promise I’m not lying. I’ve made a lot of mistakes this year. And if I was given the chance to go back to the first day of preseason and do it all over, I 100% would. College was not what I expected at all. Every college student will endure their fair share of drama, but if you can, just try to avoid it. It’s useless and just takes away from the reason you are at college: to get an education and prepare yourself for the real world.

One piece of advice I have when you first get to school is to be super friendly. Don’t isolate yourself with one small group of friends. No matter if your school is big or small, be friendly to everyone. When you have a bad day, seeing one familiar face and a quick hello can make it a lot better. I can tell you this from my own experiences. When you get to school, make sure to stay focused on your studies. This can be hard due to the new environment, new people, and new opportunities, but be sure to stay focused on the REAL reason why you are here, which is to get an education. Saturday nights are awesome and a ton of fun, but they will not define your college experience.

Before you try to find a boyfriend/girlfriend, find a group of friends. They will be your rock, and always have your back when you need them. A lot of college students get caught up in the hookup culture and that also takes away from your academic experiences. Trust me. Finding a balance between all aspects of college is the key to success. Again, focus on the real reason why you are here. The real experience is how you grow intellectually and socially in the 4 years of college, and how you can positively contribute to society as a professional. I was guilty of this, and for a large part of first semester I let partying and other aspects of college life dictate how I spent my time, and that definitely was not a smart decision.

I sit here now writing this article reflecting on this year and I’ll openly admit I wish I could do it all over again and a lot differently. Everyone’s college experience is different, so do your own thing and make it your own. Don’t feel pressured to do things you may not feel comfortable with just because others are doing them. I personally wouldn’t have made it through this year without the never-ending support of my family. So, Mom, Dad, Teddi, Aunt Chris, Uncle Keith, Grandma- thank you. I’ll never be able to repay you for the numerous trips here, hour long facetimes, care packages, and early morning texts that made the days easier.

I know it can be super hard, but try your best to make good decisions in this new environment with all the new people and experiences around. Don’t let insignificant things take away from your academic experiences. They may seem important now, but, in the long run, they aren’t. Always remember the real reason why you are here, and use that as a way to get you through the good and bad days of college, because over 4 years there will be many of both! It is up to you how you carry on from those days, and ultimately you decide how your college experience will pan out.

Michaela is a Childhood Education Major with Concentrations in Math and Spanish at Manhattan College. She will be continuing her studies in the Masters program at Manhattan, and earn a Masters Degree in Special Education. She was a member of Her Campus at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and is now the Campus Correspondent and Senior Editor at Manhattan! She is beyond excited to be a Jasper and that she found her home at MC!   
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