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The Truth About Your First Semester of College

Every movie about college shows parties, game days and close friend groups. What they don’t show are the late nights, intense exams and loneliness that college brings. I entered college with the most unrealistic expectations. What else was I supposed to think college is really like when all I have been exposed to is the idealistic depictions Hollywood spins out? The hard truth is your first semester of college will likely be lonely. For the first time in your life, you will have to go out of your way to make friends. You will spend nights alone and it will suck. During that time, know that it will get better and that everyone goes through this period of loneliness that no one is truly prepared for. 

This is a time for personal growth. Use your first semester to find yourself. In high school, you are around the same people for years. People know you as something and it can be hard to change. Your first semester of college is going to change you. You are on your own and making decisions that you haven’t had to make before. Maybe you are doing things that you didn’t think you’d do before. College is a time to try things. Rather than resisting, allow yourself to try new things and put yourself out there. Join clubs of things you’ve never tried before and talk to people from places you’ve never been to or heard about.

I know it can be difficult but send that text. Ask the person down the hall to go out to dinner even if you don’t think you’ll be best friends. She isn’t going to say no because the reality is that she is probably just as lonely as you are. Even if you see people who appear to have a bunch of friends, they probably don’t know as well as you think they do. Get out of your room. Whether it be to go to dinner with others or just to study at the library, it is crucial that you don’t allow yourself to stay cooped up in your room.

Take care of yourself. Get a healthy amount of sleep and eat properly. It may not feel important but make it a priority. Go to the gym a few times a week. If you don’t like running or lifting, walking on the treadmill on an incline is a great alternative. Allow yourself to have alone nights where you put on a face mask or do your hair or paint your nails. Maybe pop some popcorn and watch a movie. Don’t think about the things you are missing but rather relax from the long week of studying you have likely will have just had.

Finally, if you are struggling, ask for help. Know that you are not alone in this feeling. There are so many resources on campus to help you whether it be talking to your RA, visiting the student medical center, the Wellness Center on campus or the many tutoring centers this university has to offer. Vulnerability is difficult but you must understand that your vulnerability and candor have the power to help another who feels like they are the only one going through it.

Erin is a freshman at The Ohio State University majoring in finance. She is also pursuing a minor in business analytics. She has a passion for amplifying women's stories and shared experiences.
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