As a first generation college student, I knew there would be things that I would have to learn firsthand. Since we are halfway through the semester, here are five critical lessons I have learned to implement in my collegiate lifestyle.
The “Penn State Plague” was miserable when I got it during the third week of school, and I can’t imagine that things will be much better by the time finals roll around. I was extremely unprepared, much like the pharmacies downtown, for how sick I’d truly get. With most of us going back to our hometowns for a week in November and then returning, I’m sure sicknesses will be spreading like wildfire again. This time, I’ll be fully stocked with DayQuil, NyQuil, and cough drops to make it through cold season.
Decorate your room
Personal touches and cute decorations can transform your dorm room into a home. I have string lights above my bed, fuzzy blankets, and so many cozy pillows. I wanted my room to feel less like a dorm and by taking some time to pick out cute decorations has made it feel much more comfortable. I decorated for fall and I am absolutely coming back to college with Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving break. I know that having a room decorated for Christmas is going to make me so much happier during a stressful finals season.
Do something fun every day
While academics are a huge priority in college, your mental health is also extremely important. If you have something non-academic to look forward to everyday, it makes life so much nicer. Some days, there are big activities like clubs meetings to go to, books to read, or plans with friends. Other days, it’s the little things like catching up on a TV show and throwing on a face mask. I’m planning to start doing yoga and meditation soon and those are other fun things I’ll be able to look forward to.
Going hand in hand with having something fun to do each day, you need to make sure you have time for it. I’ve been using a weekly digital planner and a weekly paper planner and it’s been so helpful with remembering everything and making time for things that matter — like having a social life. Maintaining a work-life balance when you live where you work is tough, but setting boundaries in your schedule definitely makes it easier. It took me a solid month and a half to realize this and I’ll definitely keep it up throughout the remainder of the year.
Don’t be afraid
This is so much harder to act on than it is for me to say, but I promise it’s worth it. When you realize that the worst outcome that can happen is a “no,” life is so much more freeing. Whether it’s applying for a spring internship, asking someone to hang out, or applying to Her Campus even if you’re unsure about being qualified (personal experience with that one), it’s so important to put yourself out there and try something new.
Penn State is a big school, and it can be a little overwhelming. After two months, I fully believe that you get out what you put into your college experience, and you’re here far too long to not have a good time.