My freshman year at Sewanee is coming to close, and it’s a bittersweet moment for me. With only half a semester left of my last semester as freshman, it’s important that I think back on what I have and have not done so far. Not only is this advice for myself moving through these last couple months, it’s also advice for incoming freshman on what it’ll be like.
The one thing I feel like everyone is always so terrified about when going to college is whether or not they will make friends. Obviously everyone will, but it’s still a legitimate fear. But I am here to tell you that friends do indeed come easily in college. It may take longer for some compared to others, but everyone finds their footing. For me personally, I had friends right off the bat. But those aren’t the friends I am closer with and more attached to now. It took me a bit to find a group that I truly fit in with and who mirrored my own personality. That’s not to say I don’t still talk to those original friends, I still text them and say “hey” when passing by. I do not, however, sit with them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Finding the people who you truly fit in with and belong with can be hard. I think everyone has a moment at the beginning where they identify with one group, and then the first two weeks or months pass and you’re with totally new people. You can see it all around campus. The people I saw hanging out right after move-in are not in totally the same groups still. People meet new people through classes, parties, clubs, etc. It’s okay to change; college isn’t stagnant and no person is either.
People always tell freshman to get involved in as many things as possible to see what new interests they might develop. It’s a huge mantra, especially at orientation. At the club fair, I signed my email on so many sheets I can’t even remember them all. However, I didn’t actually join any of them. I had every intent to get super involved on campus so I could start building a resume and developing new interests right away. But that didn’t happen for me, as I didn’t go through with any of it. Not until I was listing out what I was involved in on an application did I realize that I was a bit lacking. I hadn’t gotten involved like I had wanted, but luckily it’s not too late. Since I noticed my lack of involvement, I’ve already started doing more and next year I plan on joining more clubs and going to more events. There’s a lot that I feel like I’ve missed out on by simply deciding not to go, from now on I’m determined to simply do more.
Balancing the parties with the schoolwork can be hard in college. You have so much freedom and nobody is going to make you do your work. Some people find that really difficult because they have to learn how to balance their social life and the actual reason they came to college in the first place: to learn and get a degree. Luckily for me, I found a pretty good rhythm for getting everything done and still having fun. Are there times when I wish I had gone out rather than staying in and writing a paper? Definitely. But knowing that I’m working really hard in school makes up for that. Are there also times when I went out and partied when I should have been studying for a test? Also – definitely. But I have learned not to do that again after I got a C on that test. Every bad grade in college is a learning experience. You learn what professors truly expect of you and what is needed to do well, so even when it sucks there can be an up side. Knowing how to balance everything you do in college and knowing how to not let every bad grade or small thing affect you are essential. If I’m being honest, there are times when it sucks. Sometimes I wish I could just curl up in bed all day and watch Netflix rather than do the four-six hours of homework I have. It gets stressful, but luckily there are so many people around you feeling the same way there’s bound to be something to pick you up. During finals, students government set out a bunch of pillows and let students just have a massive pillow fight. My best friend and I took a well-needed break from studying to hit each other furiously; it was a great pick-me-up. There are always fun things like to be found around campus, especially during midterms or finals.
Sewanee is such a beautiful campus, anyone who doesn’t take full advantage of that is crazy. I did FYP, a pre-orientation program that stands for Finding Your Place. It’s a class that starts two weeks before orientation and move-in, and it’s all about getting to know the campus and the town. My class was geology, so we just went on a hike every day. Once classes started, we used our once-a-week class time to go on a hike. We would be out for hours, and it was amazing getting this great opportunity to explore the Domain as a grade. I was never a big hiker back home, so I knew that taking this class would force me to take advantage of and appreciate the place I now live. Whenever I want to hike on my own, I already know so many of the good spots. It was a unique opportunity in that we also did more than just hike. We went rock-jumping and even caving. These are things I never would have done without guidance, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Sewanee provides an insane amount of chances to go weird stuff like this. The Sewanee Outing Program has a caving, rock climbing, hiking, or biking trip almost every weekend. I recommend everyone do either FYP or Pre, a shorter pre-orientation program solely focused on outdoorsy stuff. It’s a great way to get to know campus right off the bat.
A picture I took from the inside of Buggytop Cave
A picture I took from the bottom of the Stone Door