Starting college is one of the biggest lifestyle changes you will ever encounter. It could be the first time you’ve shared a room, or used community showers, or lived away from home. And at first, it’s hard. Someone once told me, “If you don’t have a hard transition into college, I don’t believe you.” Honestly, that’s what kept me going when it seemed like everyone had already met everyone and made their best friends. It kept me going when I missed home, even though I’m only an hour way. It helped me understand that everyone is lost, confused, and overwhelmed. It made me realize that everyone was as exhausted as I was.
I was shamelessly envious of my high school friends who moved in days or weeks earlier than I did. It looked as if they were already finding their new best friends and had mastered college within a few weeks. Suddenly, my friends were giving me advice about college, trying to make me feel a little less nervous. It appeared as if they had their lives figured out already.
But they haven’t.
And that’s the beauty of starting at a new place. You can be the same person, you can be a new person. You can finally take classes that sound truly interesting to you. For me, that was taking an American Politics instead of a science. You can learn more about yourself.
You get to meet so many new people. When the Economics class you really really really wanted fills up, you go for the 8 am Econ with another first year student you just met in line in the same situation. You may randomly sit next to someone at lunch and learn he’s from Norway. You make huge-and sometimes hilarious-connections, like learning you were at the same high school dance as your next door neighbor. You may do a scavenger hunt with a group of people from around the country. It’s experiences like those that make college that much more interesting than high school.
But, I also learned the importance of keeping those connections with your high school friends. Starting college is a whirlwind experience, and your high school friends will keep you grounded. It doesn’t have to be seeing them in person, or even FaceTime. It could simply be a text, or a quick snapchat about something that remind you of them.
Finally, I learned to be fearless. Is walking into the cafeteria terrifying? One hundred percent yes. Is walking anywhere alone agonizing. For sure. I learned that walking up to random strangers who may or may not also be first year students is the key to success. And I’m beyond excited to meet the rest of my classmates.