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Things That Might Surprise You About Your First Month in College

It’s no secret that the shift from living at home to living on campus is a massive transition. Our entire lives, we hear from parents, friends, family, and teachers about all the things college has to offer. In movies, TV, and through media, we are presented with the idea of a perfect college experience. However, such strong preconceived notions about what college will be are not always true. As a freshman in college, there is so much to navigate and to adjust to. This little extra insight into the day-to-day of college life can help ease this major transition.

#1. keeping an eye on your mental health is essential.

I cannot emphasize this enough: your mental health will make or break your college experience. As previously mentioned, going to college is a huge transition. It’s super exciting and full of new experiences. But, it’s also stressful, unfamiliar, and can be scary. Keeping tabs on how you are doing mentally is the key to your success in academic, social, and personal goals. It is extremely likely that your campus has mental health resources that are free or very affordable. Be sure to look at student psychological services and see what is available to you. If you don’t feel like psychological services are necessary, just try to work on basic self care. Take a break from studying for midterms to go for a walk, make sure you are eating enough and getting the right nutrients in your diet, watch your favorite movie after a stressful day, or go on an off-campus adventure with your friends. Most importantly, remember that college is supposed to be a place where you thrive. Your professors, administrators, and anyone working with students wants you to succeed. Asking for help is encouraged and can make your life infinitely easier.

#2. you will quickly figure out the basic tasks you need to learn.

You can be as prepared as you want, but you are bound to run into some things that you don’t know how to do. For some people, college is the first time they have to do their own laundry and cook for themselves. It could even be as simple as thinking about what brand of toothpaste to buy or not knowing how often to wash your towels. Even if you do know how to do most household tasks, things like time management and how to study became hugely important. When you encounter these new tasks, keep in mind that nobody can know everything and that having these new experiences is all part of living on your own for the first time. In fact, go out of your way to encounter things you’ve never tried before. Get adventurous with cooking or try out a new form of exercise. Learning as much as you can about yourself is an important part of living on your own.


You have probably heard that most college students change their major at least once, or that a notable percentage of college graduates end up with a career that doesn’t align with their major. However, this concept applies to more than just your major. Maybe you meet and decide to be roommates with someone before the school year starts, and then you realize that you don’t click as well as you had hoped. You might join a club that you are really excited about, but you decide you would rather play an intramural sport. Whatever the situation, it’s important to embrace change and do what’s best for you. Change can be difficult, especially when it feels like everything in your life is changing. But, leaning into change and allowing yourself to change your mind can make you happier, less stressed, and put you on the path towards making the most out of your college experience. The moral of the story is that it is unrealistic to expect that the plans you go in with will lead to the results you come out with. Take a deep breath and remember that this is the perfect time to explore different options.

#4: everything costs money.

I’m serious. Everything costs money. This can be an especially big shock if you’re moving somewhere where the cost of living is higher. You now have to consider how to pay for tuition, housing, food, clothing, transportation, school supplies, cleaning supplies, entertainment, toiletries, and countless other things. Not only are you responsible for buying these things, but you also need to monitor how often to purchase things, how to find the cheapest options, and the best place to get them is. Budgeting will become your best friend. Using a spreadsheet or a budgeting app can help you ensure you’re not overspending too quickly. When you choose to get a job, there should be many campus resources to make the process easier for you. There are likely dozens of campus jobs available that will be flexible with class schedules and are fairly easy to get to. Even if you choose to work off campus, you may be able to find resources to connect you with employers around you.

#5: Homesickness is something you have to deal with.

Homesickness is inevitable. Whether you are desperately missing your friends and family or you’re simply craving food from your favorite restaurant at home, you’re bound to feel it at some point. It’s more than likely that you’ll end up missing little things you don’t expect the most. Familiarity is a huge contributor to comfort and when you move to a new place, hardly anything is familiar. The best way to deal with this is to create that familiarity for yourself. Find a local coffee shop that has your favorite kind of drink or a study spot that you enjoy. Eat the food that reminds you of home or hang up some pictures of where you used to live. As small as these actions are, choosing just a few things to help you feel less homesick can make your transition much easier.

Hi there! My name is Maddie and I am a first-year student at UCSD in Eleanor Roosevelt College. I am from Santa Cruz, California and I am so excited to be living in La Jolla. I am extremely passionate about social justice and mental health advocacy and I am so excited to be a part of the Her Campus team!
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