Freshman Reflections: Final Thoughts of 2018

We’re in the final stretch of the semester! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, filled with lots of love and laughter. Reality has inevitably hit us all now with the approach of finals (if it didn’t already with the Thanksgiving traffic on the way back to Gainesville). It’s been a whirlwind of a semester, and I can’t believe this is my last reflection piece of the year. Looking back, I have learned several life lessons in just my first semester of college.

1. Home isn’t a place. It’s the people you surround yourself with (as clichè as that sounds).

Being away from home really makes you value it a lot more, which is funny because I remember wanting nothing more than to leave and start college just a couple of months ago. When I went back to my hometown for Thanksgiving break, I realized that home isn’t a place as much as it is the people that make it home. Seeing all of my friends together was special, especially since  there are only a few opportunities for us to all be together at the same time in the same place. This semester was the first time that all of us had been away from home and away from the people we grew up with. A lot has changed for many of us, but our love and friendships haven’t.

2. College is hard, and it's OK to recognize that.

I’ve had to remind myself multiple times this semester that it’s OK to struggle. Adjusting to college hasn’t exactly been a cake-walk. I, unsurprisingly, believed that I could take on more than I am actually able to handle, like every other wide-eyed freshman. I was the straight-A high school student who took eight AP classes at once, so of course, I could handle the college workload, right? Newsflash: I couldn’t.

I struggled this semester, and that’s OK. College is hard for everyone, at least in the beginning. Take a college-life transition and an 18-year-old who barely understands or knows who she is, and you get a mess of a semester. However, it’s also been a semester of growth and good times.

3. Nothing beats a good movie.

Throughout the years and recent months, I’ve become so focused on my academics and other aspects of my life that I’ve forgotten to take the time to enjoy things and unwind. My current list of favorites right now: Celeste and Jesse Forever for a good cry, cheesy (and arguably very bad) Christmas movies with obvious plot holes that are still cute and feel-good (e.g. The Princess Switch, Christmas Wedding Planner) and rom-coms (Set it Up, Ibiza).

4. I really can’t handle the cold.

As much as we all complain about the Florida heat, the cold is really something else, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for people up north who have to live in the cold for more than two days. The good thing is that the cold only lasts a couple of days before it goes back to being a good ol’ 90-degree Gainesville.

5. Banana bread is the greatest thing that’s ever happened.

I’ve eaten my entire bodyweight in banana bread this month. Need I explain more?

6. There is power in perspective.

With a little perspective, things aren’t as big of a deal. I remember how anxious I was at the beginning of the semester about everything: How am I going to make friends? How do I use the buses? What if I get lost on campus? What if I don’t make friends? What if my professors hate me? Now, those things don’t seem like such big problems. Perspective really is an amazing thing. So, the things you are freaking out over now won’t be such a big deal soon.

This is the last reflection piece of the semester, and it feels bittersweet to me. Just when I’ve grown comfortable and used to my routines and classes, things are going to be changing again. I started this semester with a lot of big changes in my life, and it affected what and how I wrote. (Anyone notice the sudden uptick in break-up posts?) It was a cloudy, muddled time in my life, and I needed a way to put together how I was feeling, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to write these reflections.

To think that this feeling of not knowing what’s ahead of me is going to go away would be foolish. None of us know what we are doing, and it’s beautiful and tragic. I wrote these reflections this semester as a way to document the changes that I was going through but also to provide readers with a sense of solidarity. You are not alone in feeling lost in this big, beautiful world. And with that, have a happy holiday season, Gators.

Are you a UF freshman who's been following the #FreshmanReflections series? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram @HerCampusUFL, Facebook (Her Campus UFL) or via email ([email protected])!