What I Learned My First Semester in College

With finals right around the corner and the fall semester drawing to a close, this is a time for many of us to reflect back on our time at UF thus far. Although I admittedly completed my first semester a while ago, it's important to know that each and every day we spend at this university each one of us grows both personally and academically. For collegiettes who are on the verge of completing their very first semester, they’ll look back on this time as one of the biggest learning experiences of their lives. The confused and starry-eyed freshman girls who first stepped onto campus in August have now been replaced with wiser college women, but that hasn't been without learning a thing or two about what college life is really like. This is what I learned during my first semester in college.

I learned what my limits are.
Your first semester at a school like UF — when you're away from friends, family and your comfort zone — is one that will prompt you to test your limits. Here you’ll test yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Physically you’ll figure out how many all-nighters you can pull off before you completely lose it. Mentally you’ll figure out how much information you can cram into your brain before an exam and actually do well. Emotionally you’ll figure out how to cope with being away from home and your lifelong friends. Testing your limits is a quintessential part of the college experience, and your freshman fall semester is the best time to see how far you can really push yourself.

I learned how to get along with different people.
This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned all semester. Not everyone is like you and not everyone thinks and behaves in the same way. You’ve probably learned this lesson when dealing with your roommate, new sorority sisters or even classmates. Coming to a new school exposes all of us to an environment that is very different from the one we grew up in and everyone's reaction or survival mechanism is different than our own. And that’s okay. If you haven’t figured it out by now, these vastly different people who have entered our lives have done so for a reason. Even though you might not understand them or even agree with them, their presence has allowed you to expand your view of the world, and for that you should be forever grateful.

I learned how to (seemingly) balance everything.
You know that Internet meme with the decagon that lists everything you have to balance in your life — friends, family, school, work, sleep, food, etc. — and then it tells you to attempt to do all of those things? I’m pretty sure you’ve learned by now just how accurate that really is. Being left on your own at school is probably the first time many of you have been forced to “adult.” Mom and Dad are not on top of you making sure you get enough sleep or do your homework anymore. Although I know this is one of the hardest lessons we learn at school, by the end of the semester you’ll have a pretty decent grasp on how to balance everything on your plate without having a mental breakdown. And that, I think we can all agree, is a beautiful thing.

I learned what my priorities are.
As much as we want to pretend it isn't true, we all decided to come to UF for one reason — to pursue our education at a higher level. The beginning of the semester is all fun and games, but at some point during the last four months you’ve been forced to come to terms with the reality of your courses. The truth of the matter is that not everyone is like you, and even though doing well in school might be the most important thing to you, it might not be to some of your new friends. This is a time when you're going to figure out what aspects of your life are truly important to you and will command your time. Your priorities aren't always going to be in line with those of your friends, and while that's completely okay, you can’t let that deter you from what you want to achieve here. Recognizing what your priorities are empowers you to take control of your life. You can say no to going out with your friend when you’ve got homework to do, and you can say no to going to a social that would make you exhausted for an important class, and that’s great. Good friends will respect the things that matter to you, and if they don’t, maybe you don’t need them as friends.

I learned that some people aren’t meant to be in my life.
This might have been a hard pill for a lot of you to swallow, as it was for me. The freshman version of yourself is always more optimistic when it comes to promising to keep in touch with old friends, but the truth is that some people just weren't meant to stay in your life. Your first semester away will be time consuming. You’ll join new clubs and meet new people, which on top of school work will make for a jam-packed schedule. Keeping in touch with your old friends will either be easy or painstakingly difficult. Unfortunately, it goes without saying that if keeping in touch with someone becomes more of a chore than anything else, chances are that your friendship isn't meant to be. This is a completely natural part of growing up, and although it can be scary, it just means your life is headed somewhere new, and that's exciting.

Don’t worry collegiettes; if you haven’t learned these lessons by now you definitely will in the spring. Here’s to wishing you all the best with finals and a relaxing winter break!

Photo Credit: www.huffingtonpost.com