10 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of College

As the end of the year approaches, I started reflecting on some of the main points that I learned from my first year of college. I didn’t know what I expected, but it was so different than what I could have imagined. Whether it be how to master communal showers or learn about where I am at and how to improve myself; I learned so much. I learned what worked and what just didn’t. Here are the top 10 things I learned in my first year of college.

1. Dorms are hard.

This one seems self-explanatory. Everything becomes public in the dorms, and at first it seems kind of exciting. You can live with all your friends and there’s always someone around to socialize with. But you also now share your room with someone else, you eat your breakfast in essentially a cafeteria, you shower with shoes on, and being in a public place without people you know is the closest thing to privacy you will feel. It’s important to set boundaries for yourself so you have some time alone.

2. You will inevitably miss home, no matter how badly you wanted to leave.

For me, it was less about missing home, as I don’t live that far away. However, this is still a completely different life. I’ve realized how much I appreciate my hometown and everything that comes with it. For me, Davis was a bit of a culture shock. The people and their values were so different, and it was interesting to get used to how close in proximity something can be, yet still so different at the same time.

3. There’s all the time in the world, yet no time at all. 

Time in college is a topic I’ve always had mixed feelings about. I’ve learned that there is all the time in the world, but you have to wisely choose what you invest your time into. I feel like every moment is a state in between nothing to do and super busy. It’s okay to just let time flow, and to finish your priorities.

4. Becoming involved is easier than not becoming involved.

As cheesy as it sounds, getting involved really is the answer. It is more work to not become involved in at least something because it keeps you busy, creates connections, and allows you to make friends — whether that’s joining clubs, doing intramural sports, getting an on-campus job, or all of the above. It’s so much more enjoyable in Davis when you build more connections. After all, there are so many amazing people to meet!

5. How to accept other people as themselves.

In college, I learned so much about myself. Through that, I learned how to love other people for who they are in their authentic form, not just pieces of me that I wanted to see in them. I learned that listening to people when they need to talk is therapeutic, not just for them, but for you too. In college, I learned quickly that everyone comes from different backgrounds, and that you have to focus on a person’s heart, not where they come from. 

6. It’s not weird to talk to strangers.

Some of the best people I’ve met in college are strangers that I’ve just happened to run into. Strangers in Davis will give you good, genuine conversations, and maybe it’s because being in college can get lonely. Sometimes, people just need someone to talk to, whether that person is standing in front of you to get their morning coffee or sitting next to you in class. Don’t brush them off, because maybe you also need someone to talk to. Plus, meeting new people and being able to start conversations is a good skill to have.

7. How to care about something other than yourself.

College taught me how to be compassionate in a new way. I learned how to put others before myself in every aspect of life: friends, family, work, and school. In retrospect, I learned that I mean so little in the world. The people I directly help around me might be the biggest difference I can make, and that is completely okay. 

8. Who my real friends are.

Being in this setting caused me to reflect on everything in life, including friends from back home and friends from college, as well as whether or not they have my best interests at heart. Not everyone you meet is meant for you, and that is totally okay. However, it’s also important to be kind to those you care about, because friendship goes both ways.

9. How to fake it till you make it.

This one is really the key to being successful in college. My first few months here, I was terrified to even ask my professors a question in class. The key to success, though, is to realize that everyone is here for you, and that you are paying for these resources — so why not use them? The future is yours, but you need to use the system instead of letting the system use you.

10. Who I am and who I am not. 

This one is arguably the most important thing that I’ve learned in college. It taught me who I am as a roommate, a friend, a stranger, a co-worker, a daughter, a sister, and everything in between. I learned about what I actually like as a person, and what just belonged to the people I surrounded myself with in high school. I learned that there are so many interests I never really had, and there are so many more that I actually wanted to try. I’m still learning who I am every day, but I’m positive I know who I am not.