4 Important Things My Freshman Year Taught Me

Lately, I have been reflecting on all of the regrets I had and the lessons that I learned my freshman year at Penn State. I am a completely different person. This year was rough at times, but I learned more about myself than I have in the past 18 years of my life. From making new friends to changing my routine to dealing with uncomfortable situations, I wish I could have changed a lot of things I did. In all honesty, the transition from high school and college is not a piece of cake, but I hope that these four lessons I learned will help others complete one of the hardest transitions in life.

  1. 1. It is 100% okay to be home sick. In fact, it is totally normal. 

    When coming to college, I was beyond excited to live on my own, and I didn’t think that I would be as home sick as I was. I am already an independent person, but the homesickness truly took a toll on me. I wanted to go far away for college for the experience, but it’s hard being away from your family hundreds of miles away. Since I was set on going far away from home, I didn’t accept that I was home sick and as a result, I distanced myself from my family. This was a huge mistake. By separating myself, it made the home sickness so much worse. When I realized that it had been two months and I was still home sick, I started to talk to my parents a lot more and it did help me overcome the problems I was having. I think talking to your family once or twice a day is beneficial and helpful, however, you do not need to be calling your family every time you have a minor inconvenience. It’s important to keep in contact with your family, but not at the expense of the underdevelopment of your own independence.

  2. 2. It is okay to put your mental health first. 

    In my experience, this transition was one of the hardest I have gone through in my life. I found myself having extremely high-highs and low-lows that I felt kind of lost and confused at school. On top of hard classes and sorting out college life, it can be a lot, and it can take a toll on your mental health. In the first semester, I had never been so anxious in my life. I felt a lack of confidence and my stress was over the roof. Somedays, it would be hard for me to get out of bed and be motivated to go to class. Whenever I felt like this, I just kept pushing myself, but sometimes I pushed myself too far that I would be in a constant state of negative stress which was extremely unhealthy for my mental health and my productivity. Being stressed and unhappy to the point where you don’t want to get out of bed is not worth going to all of your classes and other responsibilities. I think it’s important to pick and choose what makes you happy and feel good about yourself. If you feel as though you are feeling so overwhelmed with life, it’s okay to take a mental health day because you don’t want to spread yourself too thin.

  3. 3. It is okay to cut off toxic people and make new friends. Your first college friends don't need to be your forever friends. 

    I ended my freshman year with completely different friends than I started with. I had this friend group in the beginning of the year and it was fun because we were all in the same boat, but I just saw some things that I didn’t like and didn’t want to be associated with. They would gossip behind each other’s back and be cliquey and unwelcoming to others which I was really indifferent about because it just reminded me of friend groups in high school. I was worried about cutting myself off from them because I didn’t have other friends, since they were so exclusive. This situation gave me a lot of anxiety, but I am glad I made the choice I did. This may be a harsh reality, but your first friends in college will most likely not be your best friends in college or throughout life. I think it’s important to make as many friends as possible and see who sticks with you through it all. Although I am not friends a part of this friend group anymore, I am still friendly and I hangout with some of them individually. If friendships don’t work out, it doesn’t make you any less of a person. It’s important to find people that value the same things you do and these people might not come along till your sophomore or junior year, but everything will work out always. If you put yourself out there, you will meet people that will be your friends for life at some point in your college years.

  4. 4. It is okay to be honest with your roommates. Your opinions are valid. 

    This has been one of the hardest lessons for me because I have had two bad roommate experiences. I have always been a people pleaser and just put up with the demands of others without expressing my own feelings or opinions about problems. Part of my anger and anxiety from both of my roommate situations is because of my fear of communicating my opinion about problems in the room. It is essential to tell your roommate your concerns about things in the room. Your room will be one of the only places where you feel comfortable on campus and it’s hard to go through the transition already. I find myself still having trouble with this still today, but it’s so important to make your college experience so much better. Another harsh reality I faced was that your roommate does not need to be your best friend, but you must have mutual respect and courtesy for each other. All in all, if I had just voiced my opinion about my feelings, my transition would be a lot better and I would have felt more comfortable on campus.