Dear First-Year me,
Unlike the other kids going off to college, I was never truly never ready to leave home until forced back because of a pandemic and then all I wanted was my independence back. It probably would’ve been smart to start preparing for leaving, but instead we panicked and did everything we could to forget that college was happening anytime soon. The thought of living over 550 miles away from home was both terrifying and exciting (mostly terrifying). We should’ve known that I was too anxious and brought too much stuff to college when the car was packed full. But we didn’t listen to anyone who said anything because the thought of being a minimalist was nauseating because what if something happened and you didn’t have that particular item when you needed it? Guess what freshie, there is a Target around the corner, you’ll be fine. Also, homesickness is very common and don’t think you’re weird for crying because you miss home because everyone else just hid theirs while you openly talked about it.
Another thing I wish I could tell you was to make sure to be honest on your roommate survey, you should make sure to put clean because some people say they are decently clean and then you end up stressed for no reason. How you were raised does not matter to others and just because you are clean, doesn’t mean they are. Also, while you can be friendly with your roommates, realize that just because you’re stuck in the room together that does not mean that you have to be besties. On top of that, make sure to never, and I mean never, drink a Four Loko. Trust me when I say that I’m saving you from disaster and talking to the cops very drunk before praying to the porcelain gods. Also fix your phone ASAP because it will randomly block contacts (including your roommates) which will eventually lead to issues. Make sure to be friends with the girl one door down from Oregon, she’s amazing and you’ll have wished you would’ve hung out more when she transferred.
Speaking of friends, don’t worry about how you look or how you act because your true friends won’t care. You will feel super lonely that first semester because the truth is that you won’t find the right people until sophomore year. You’re going to struggle with your social life, and that’s okay, but definitely leave your dorm frequently. No one actually stops by the doors to see if you want to hang out because they are busy with their lives. Find friends in your classes and they will be the best people you’ll ever meet. One person you’ll meet is Hanh and she is one of the best friends you’ll ever have despite everything you’ll go through once you move into an apartment together. More friends to look forward to are Veda and Rayna who will stay in contact with you even though you’ll never have classes together after your first- year. These wonderful, spiritual people will give you insight to who you are and what you value. Don’t rely on destiny to make your friends, realize they are the people right next to you in class, they are the ones you need to talk to. Also, don’t worry about your major, you picked the right one and you’ll meet the most friendly and wonderful friends there, but will be forced to be online friends because of a horrible pandemic.
On a separate note, don’t trust everyone you meet. Not everyone is a true friend and the hardest thing to move on from is “friends” who betray your trust and hurt you when you are broken the most. Stay away from the girl across the hallway and the girl two doors down because they will lead you down the wrong path and cause you nothing but harm even though it seemed like the best thing to happen at the time. When they say things that make you question yourself and question your relationships, recognize the signs and get out of there before anything can happen. Also, don’t move into an apartment with your “friends” because while one was amazing as a roommate, the other will only cause you distress and harm.
In addition to school, look forward to the speaking center because that will be your home for a while. From an amazing team to a great experience of meeting new people, it will follow you through the years. Don’t wait until sophomore year to get a job, try putting yourself out there to gain experience or at least try to get an internship. The JCC is one of the best jobs you’ll ever have and you’ll have a great time there in the future, but you definitely need to hurry and get a job before you need to have a job if you know what I mean.
Finally, you’ve got this. You’ll have stressful and fun memories of your first- year for sure. From drunk puking in the bushes after a concert to running in the rain after midterms because you really just wrote a 10-page paper in two hours and needed release. Don’t worry about not having been in a relationship and don’t let people pressure you into anything because things will get better. When you force yourself to do something, only bad things happen. Let things occur as they do and reach out to people who you want to be friends with. College won’t be the experience you want it to be because of mistakes and a pandemic, but it’s something you’ll definitely have stories to tell about. Be thankful for the good memories and curse the bad ones, college isn’t rainbows and sunshine but it is definitely a warm cup of coffee at 8 am before a lecture while hungover.