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11 Things I Learned The Hard Way My Junior Year Of College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

This year has been a year of growth, laughter, and lots of work. It tested me in ways I didn’t know were possible, while bringing me closer to my friends, family, and goals. While it’s nearing the end of my junior year of college, it feels like there are still endless adventures to be had. I am now six semesters down with 11 more lessons to share

1. Nothing Lasts Forever — Change is Inevitable

Time is a funny thing. As I get older and older, dynamics shift, opinions change, and I often find myself longing for a time of the past. A time without internship applications, friend fights, and being three hours away from my dog. Whether it’s a new schedule, new dorm set-up, or new favorite TV show — change often throws me for a loop. While it can be painful to grieve that perfect semester or the coffee order that just doesn’t taste good anymore, I’ve found that sitting in that pain for too long only makes it hurt more. Re-framing my mindset to anticipate and accept change has made me feel more prepared to take on each and every day.

2. There is such a Thing as Too Much Free Time

If you would’ve told me this during the busy camp counselor summers or the anxiety-ridden high school afternoons — I would’ve laughed in your face. However, at the beginning of this semester, I had a four-week period where my days largely consisted of sitting around in my dorm. The change in schedule had sent me into a bit of an anxious spiral and I was anticipating the start of a new job. Without much to do, I began to feel unproductive and my self-confidence went way down. It didn’t help that this period coincided with some seasonal depression. While having tons of free time might work for some people, if you’re anything like me, it can be seriously not fun. 

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3. Advocate For Yourself

Since I started college I have been trying to get better at identifying problems and advocating for myself, and I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. I have suffered from chronic environmental allergies for around six years at this point. I often discredit my allergies, believing others will view me as weak or odd. However, experiencing some level of cold-like symptoms more often than not can really take a toll on a person. After two years of believing I was “not sick enough,” I finally turned to the Center for Students with Disabilities. I mustered up the courage to ask an ENT for a note and put in a request for an air conditioner in my dorm, a process that was easier than I thought it would be. Having a dorm AC has been a life-saver, and taught me that my problems are valid. I’m even getting a Septoplasty later this year which will, fingers crossed, alleviate this issue even further. 

4. Communicate With Your Roommate — Even When It’s Tough

Last year, I wrote about how much easier dorm life is when you communicate with your roommate. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was largely because my roommate and I had yet to really fight. This year taught me that communication cannot be ignored, even when it’s annoying, awkward, or tense. 

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5. Add the Co-Host

To me, this advice is super literal: I have a podcast and it needed a co-host. But for the non-podcasters out there, I urge you to realize you cannot and should not have to do absolutely everything alone. Accept help when it’s offered and prioritize the ways in which you can actually be successful. 

6. Dating Apps Are…An Experience

A few weeks ago, I decided my junior year anthem is “People Watching” by Conan Gray. Watching people slip in and out of relationships while I sit in my bed binging Grey’s Anatomy was not exactly how I envisioned college. Back in January, I texted one of my best friends, “Sometimes I just feel like making a Hinge account just for the sh*ts and giggles, but then I remember those are real people.” While I was mostly joking, I decided to go for it. What followed was a series of being ghosted, doing the ghosting, weirdly tumultuous talking stages, and plenty of intriguing conversations. While I’m still very much single, I learned that putting yourself out there maybe isn’t the worst idea.

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7. Don’t Associate Music With Situations

Let’s just say one was to hypothetically associate some really cool, really amazing songs with a not-so-cool, really sucky situation. If they were to do that (and then listen to those songs so many times they can’t cry anymore), they would probably advise you not to do that. That sounds really painful though, so good thing it’s just hypothetical…right?

8. Take Random Classes

As a double major, having academic freedom never really felt like an option. To graduate on time, I thought I would have to meticulously plan out each and every semester precisely. Well, as it turns out, if you’re too meticulous, you end up having too many semesters and not enough classes to take. With this extra time, I decided to add a minor in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. I was initially skeptical about adding a minor in WGSS, having heard firsthand how “stupid and unnecessary” some people think the department is. My time in WGSS classes has been nothing but eye-opening, engaging, and super informational. 

9. Having A Car Is A Game-Changer

Rhianna once said the wisest words I’ve ever heard: “Shut up and drive.” As someone who used to have severe driving anxiety, I wish I had taken her advice much sooner. I got over my driving anxiety mostly from simple exposure therapy, which I was shocked and bamboozled actually worked. A few months after cementing myself as a fully confident driver, I was able to get a car of my own. I then fought in UConn’s winter-break-parking-permit-hunger-games, which I was somehow successful at. While practice makes perfect, so does blasting One Direction on the highway so loudly that your anxious thoughts melt away.

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10. Just Apply To The Thing

Internships, jobs, leadership positions, and weird little freelance gigs can all be intimidating. It’s hard not to feel unqualified for something you can most definitely handle, but perhaps lack a deep pre-existing understanding of. Despite my deep-seated fear that my talents are plainly mediocre, I took time this year to apply to anything and everything that interested me. What resulted were two amazing jobs, a plethora of cool interview opportunities, and the opportunity to take on the role of President and Editor-In-Chief of Her Campus UConn next year.

11. It All Goes Way Too Fast

Since graduating high school, life has felt like it’s been going in fast-forward — especially this year. It feels like I just really got into the groove of college life and in the blink of an eye it’ll all be over. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave my friends, walkable community, and even dining halls behind, but I’m trying to make every moment count until I have to. 

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It seems as though there is simply nowhere else like college to learn, grow, and thrive. While Storrs, Connecticut is my second home, it is also where I’ve made some of my most stupid and thought-provoking decisions. I’m incredibly excited to see what senior year has in store for me and my mistakes.

Emily is an Associate Editor for Her Campus UConn. She is a junior at the University of Connecticut studying journalism and communication. Emily enjoys writing about pop culture, lifestyle, film, and TV. Emily is a Copy Editor for The Daily Campus and the Social Media Chair for UConn Creative Writing Club. She also co-hosts and edits a pop culture podcast called ‘Girl Talk.’ Passionate about all things creative, Emily is often writing poetry, reading a book, or trying to teach herself a new skill. In her spare time, you can find Emily sipping on a coffee, crafting a new Spotify playlist, or obsessing over her dog.