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10 Things I Learned My First Week of College

Starting college is like a rite of passage into adulthood. You move out of your parents’ house, and you have to do everything by yourself! It’s relieving, exciting and terrifying all at once. Here are just a few things I’ve learned really quickly since I’ve started my new life:

1. Walking is so much harder than you remember.

There isn’t any advice I can give on this topic, but it’s just so hard. I get out of breath walking back to the dorms every single day, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. The most I can say is that earphones and a great playlist make the miserable walk a little more manageable.

2. Even 10 AM classes can be rough. Just go to sleep.

For some reason, waking up at 8:30 AM is so much harder in college. A good night’s sleep honestly makes a huge difference, and if you find yourself having to stay up past midnight, you’re probably doing something wrong. Either do more work during the afternoon, or drop an extracurricular. With so many clubs on campus, it’s easy to get sucked into doing way more than you can handle.

3. Power naps are a beautiful, beautiful thing.

If you do end up staying up really late and you’re sleepy the whole day, don’t be afraid to take a quick 20 minute nap. I have an hour and a half break between some of my classes, and sometimes I have to take a nap after a particularly tiring lecture. I have even learned to nap in public. As long as I set plenty of alarms so I don’t miss my next class, nap time has become one of my college necessities.

4. Sometimes you just gotta cry!

I am a huge crier. I cry at almost every movie I see, whether it’s in theaters or in the safety of my own room. Love, Simon? Cried. Black Panther? Cried. Incredibles 2? Cried! So, I’m used to crying in public, but it’s usually in a darkened movie theater, and all I have to worry about is my loud sniffles and choking sobs. There is nowhere to hide in a college dorm. Everyone understands that essays are stressful, so let it out, man.

5. Having a Friday full of classes sucks.

If at all possible, try to schedule an easy Friday. I’ve realized that having to stay on campus until 4pm while everyone else is back at the dorms napping, studying or chatting just isn’t the best way to end my week. Give yourself a break. We all need one.

6. You should get off campus.

Although there is almost everything I need on campus, it can get a little stifling staying here the whole time. Going out, whether it’s shopping, to the movies or to the beach, is a great way to relieve stress. My first few days here, I barely even left my dorm unless it was to go to class. Just getting a coffee with a friend off campus can be like a breath of fresh air, so make sure to take a study break once in a while and walk around town.

7. Nobody knows who you are, so get out of your comfort zone.

Like most people, I knew the people from my high school for years, and they knew me for years. It can be stressful trying to change who you are when it feels like everyone has already built up an image of you in their heads. But, colleges are big! You might as well apply for that organization you’ve always been too scared to try, or wear the hot pink eyeshadow you thought people would judge you for or dye your hair the lime green your parents would’ve cried over!

8. It’s okay to do things alone.

When you and your friends all have different schedules, it can be difficult to plan meals or errands together. I’ve gotten used to eating by myself—nobody actually notices or cares. And if everyone is in the lounge talking, but you don’t want to talk? You don’t have to! It’s important to learn how to be independent and to be comfortable being your own best friend.

9. Don’t hang on too tightly to your old life.

Being shoved into a totally new environment when you still feel like a kid is terrifying. It can be so easy to text your friends from high school or your parents every minute of every day, especially if you have friends at the same college. I spent my first week extremely stressed about making friends, and it was tempting to spend all of my time with my old friends. But making new friends is one of the best parts of college, and it’s not that hard if you put in a little effort.

10. Don’t let go either.

That’s not to say you should ghost everyone you used to talk to. It’s easy to lose touch when you don’t see them all the time, so make a point to start a conversation if you notice you haven’t spoken in a few days. I still text and call my best friends from high school, and I’ve even started sending handwritten letters! There’s nothing wrong with holding on to the people you are most comfortable with. In fact, I think it’s important. I’ve known my old friends for years, and they still matter to me, even if I don’t see them anymore.


Rachel is the Co-Campus Correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time, she loves hanging around flea markets and exploring different neighborhoods in LA!
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