What I Wish I Knew Going Into My Freshman Year

As my freshman year comes to a close, I feel like it would be a good idea to reflect on my year and see how much I’ve really changed. Let me tell you, I’ve changed a lot, from my daily routines, to what I eat, and even having a completely new hair color than what I had graduated high school with. My first year at UNH has been amazing don’t get me wrong, but I went into it with a bunch of expectations that ended up not being a reality. I love UNH so much, it was my top school when applying, and considering I applied to 19 (yes excessive I know) that’s saying a lot. I feel that I have changed in a lot of ways for the better, but I wish that I knew certain things about the whole “college experience” before being thrown into it all.

I wish I knew that complete isolation from people you know isn’t always the best. I’ve always been known to be an independent person. Since I am an only child, I am used to doing things by myself, so I knew when I wanted to go to college, I wanted to go somewhere where I knew absolutely no one. I thought that having this fresh start would be beneficial to my self-growth and really help in figuring out who I wanted to be. I figured that if I started off with no friends at college, I would gain better social skills when it comes to interacting with other people, instead of hiding behind my other friends while they did all of the talking, creating friends that would also become my own by association. From my high school, out of our graduating class of 418 students I happened to be the only one attending UNH, and coming here I only knew two people who were friends with my friends, and I had previously met my roommate twice. Other than that I was on my own.

I wish I knew that going to school with people you know is okay. Rooming with your best friend is okay. If you want to be around people you know, that is okay too. At my high school, we had these panels with kids who had already graduated, and they gave us advice as to how to go about being in college. One girl told us she blocked every single person from her high school on all social media because she didn’t want to be stuck in high school. Another said she purposely didn’t go to the same school as her best friend so that they didn’t have to grow in the same friend group. Though this may have worked for them, my isolation from high school wasn’t the most beneficial for me. I had a super close knit group of 5 friends in high school, and we are still as close as we were then. I do wish sometimes I hadn’t forced myself to separate from them and come all the way to New Hampshire, because all of my other friends (except for one who goes to UChicago and I’m still so proud of her woo!) go to school in Mass. I knew absolutely no one coming here, and I thought that this would be a good fresh start for me to reinvent myself. It was not as simple as I thought.

I wish I knew that making friends is not as easy as it appears to be. In your first few months of college, you are spending a lot of time adjusting to being on self sufficient and away from your parents, and this can be extremely isolating. Though it will pass, it is a huge adjustment, and for a lot of people it is not easy. And that is okay. I always thought that when I saw girls sitting with a huge group of friends at the dining hall that I wasn’t making friends quickly enough, and that I would probably never have that group for myself. Even my friends at other colleges, like UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell found their groups so quickly and I always thought that there was something wrong with me because I had no close friends. Though I do now, and love all of the girls that I became so close with this year, everyone finds their people at different rates, but you will eventually. The right people come to you at the right time, and it may not be in your first two weeks of college. So there’s no need to stress about not having a huge group. You just need to be open to everyone and soon enough you’ll find the right group of people that all get along great with each other.

I wish I knew my girls weren’t going to come to me right away. For me, it took awhile to find my group, and I really just found them when we had about a month of school left. In college, friend groups change on a weekly basis, and that’s okay too. I have had so many different groups of friends since the beginning of the year, and it took awhile for me to find my group. Like I said before, everyone finds their people at different times throughout their life and though it may feel lonely, you will find those people. You just need to be open to everyone and really go with the flow.

    I wish I knew it isn’t worth it to force friendships if that person or group of people are making you unhappy. In the beginning of this year, I was very open to talking to everyone and tried to get to know as many people as possible. Though I was like this, a lot of people are not. Some people I have met in my first year are very closed off and not open to meeting new people. Though this may sound a little naive, I really did not expect to encounter a lot of unfriendly people when coming to college. Everyone here comes from all different places, and are used to different things. If you and someone else don’t click together, that is okay. Sometimes it’s not worth it continuing and wasting time with a new friendship if it is toxic for you. It’s usually hard to accept this, at least for me because I’m one to give everyone a chance, but in the long run it will make both your college and personal experience so much better.

    I wish I knew that partying really isn't everything. Sure, first semester you want to go out every single weekend and party and go crazy and be silly (I really think I’m funny wow) but I’m going to be real with you: you get sick of it. Sure you and your friends will have a crazy night out, but I feel that some of the best memories have been just chilling in my dorm room with a good group of people. I love going out every night as much as the next person, but I’m not as obsessive as I was first semester. Going to parties, while fun, isn’t everything, and it’s not going to boost your cool factor if you go out Thursday-Sunday every weekend. No one cares. Trust me.

    I wish I knew that I shouldn’t compare myself to other girls at college. I should be comfortable doing myself without feeling that I need to copy someone else. I feel that I’m still on the journey to have full confidence, and being at college has helped in some ways, but not in others. I was always the type of person who either has full glam or no makeup on. No in between.  In high school, I always woke up 10 minutes before I had to leave my house. Here, I’m up at least an hour and a half before so that I know I have time to get ready. I NEVER got ready for school before college. I always wanted to fit in with my friends here, so if they had to put at least concealer and mascara on before we left for the dining hall, you’d catch me doing the exact same thing so I could fit in with them. At the beginning of college, I never left the room without having my eyebrows done because I had the fear of being judged by other girls that I would appear messy. College brought out a different standard for myself when it comes to my appearance, and as the year ends I’ve learned that you should do whatever you want, no one cares about that either. If they do, they aren’t the people for you. Thank u, next.

    I wish I knew that eating healthy is HARD. It’s so hard. I thought I was going to come here and be like 'I’m going to get in shape while going to college! Go to the gym everyday!' Who was I joking. You can try to eat a salad everyday, but honestly it gets boring. I know that at least here at UNH they have a lot of healthy options, but sometimes when fries are next to a healthier option, you know which one I’m picking (it’s not the one I should be getting). Though of course eating healthy/nutritious foods should be a focus in most people’s diets, we are in college. So if it’s 3am and you just got back from a party, if you want to order that Dominos--do it. We’re in college, we’re young, and we all deserve to have those nights to just indulge a little bit. We’re too young to be extremely obsessive with our appearance to the point where we will never be able to enjoy ourselves every once and awhile.

My first year at UNH has been such a learning experience for me, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I had so much fun making unforgettable memories with everyone I have met, whether I still talk to them or we had a falling out at some point. My freshman year has had many ups along with a few downs, but I do not regret any of it. I learned so much about what I want from friendships, and how to handle my relationships with other people. Though there is so much more I learned, these were the first things that really came to my mind. College is such a great learning experience, and I am more than ready to learn and grow so much more in the next 3 years to come.