25 Random Things I Learned in My First Semester of College

So..you're a freshman. Feeling confused, panicked, or directionless is a daily occurrence, and somehow you still manage to get lost on the campus you've been navigating for months. Even worse, there are hundreds of advice columns to sift through in hopes that something out there might cure that seemingly incurable nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach. So, with that, here's 25 things that I don't remember being told about before coming to college (but I wish I had). 

1. You need to find clean bathrooms

No one tells you that in college there’s clean bathrooms and then there’s 3rd dimension of hell bathrooms. Either the bathroom gets cleaned, or the bathroom gets constantly wrecked. Here’s a rule of thumb: bathrooms tend to be cleaner within subject specific buildings, not common areas like the Library or PHC. Not so surprisingly certain subject areas are scarier than others-- note to self, if you have to choose between a science and a humanities/business building, take the humanities/business building 

2. Don’t wear your room key lanyard everywhere

If you live on campus, most likely your housing association gave you a lanyard to hold your room key. If you want to scream “I’m a freshman” from a mile away, wear that baby right around your neck.

3. College couples are cringey

Maybe if we were on BYU’s campus, it would be more normal, but considering we bleed red here at the U, couples can be cringey af, especially amongst new-found freshmen relationships.

4. You are totally allowed to eat alone and literally no one cares

I know it sounds dumb, but I was honestly afraid of eating alone. In high school, eating alone is taboo, but in college, perfectly normal.

5. If you hear a bike behind you, do not react

When bikers are behind you, they expect that you will continue going the way that you already have. A few missteps around bikers the first week of my classes taught me the simple rule that if you just keep walking straight, you won’t get hit!

6. Literally no one gives an F

Part of the beauty of college is no one cares about you. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can do basically whatever you want-- stay up late, eat whatever carbs are on hand, take almost any class you have interest in, watch Netflix whenever you want, etc. But the other hand is that everyone is only looking out for them. If you fail, cry, are sick, stressed, struggling with a topic, having difficulty balancing life and school--- most of your peers don’t really care. But, once you cultivate meaningful friendships (WHICH YOU WILL, PLEASE DON’T THINK ALL IS LOST), that’s where the true magic of college resides. In high school, your friends and teachers are obligated to care, and sometimes, this ‘caring’ is not as authentic as you want to believe. In college, though, since no one has to care about you, those who do are genuine friends and colleagues.

7. There are no dress codes (enjoy it). 

Disclaimer to anyone out there ready to call my BS: I went to a charter highschool, where the girls wore knee-length skirts, button-ups, and cardigans. The boys’ uniform was identical, they just wore pants instead. So, needless to say, the idea of even gym shorts in class was a foreign idea to me. Power to the girls and boys out there that are using college as a way to express their fashion sense!8.

8. No one seems to know what the weather is

As the months have become colder, the seasonal fashion confusion has only gotten worse. You know what I’m talking about- the notorious Utah boy hoodie + basketball shorts combo, the dorm girl pullover + track shorts + sandals, and let us not forget the Californian parka in September.

9. Don’t wear your high school gear on campus

Seriously. No ‘Go Panthers’ here. You wanted to leave, didn’t you?

10. The first week has a fitness curve

I live in the U of U dorms, and the first walk up that hill almost took the life out of me. I honestly looked like my mom after a run (she hates running) with my palms on my knees, violently shoving air out of my lungs on the Legacy bridge. I can now do the walk just fine, but that first week was brutal.

11. Sometimes, there’s children in your classes

I assumed going to the U, the chances of undergrads with children would be zero (I mean, this is not BYU okay people). But there a mother in my Intro To Medical Professions class, and her son is adorable. Though it can be eerie to hear random baby/child noises out of the quiet in a lecture hall, the experience has taught me to not worry about parents in my class and just focus on doing my own thing.

12. Not every undergrad is within their late teens/early twenties

Though most undergrads do tend to be within the ages of 18-25, I have found many undergrads who are in the 30s and beyond. Even though I expected older students in the graduate and professional programs, I did not expect anyone who was older in my Gen Eds. But it’s more common than you’d expect. I actually sit next to a man in his mid-40s in Biology 1210. He’s getting his degree in Chemistry after being in the workforce for about 20 years without a college degree. Though it gets overlooked, a serious perk of college is getting to walk among students from all walks of life. 

13. College parties are not as rampant as you might expect

Granted, this is a view coming from a Utah campus. But, I’ve found that if you’re looking for a party, you can find it. But, if you aren’t looking for a party, you aren’t likely to stumble upon one. So, for all my homebodies and anti-socialites and even just average non-party people, have no fear!

14. I’m glad I had therapy before coming to college

I am susceptible to both anxious and depressive symptoms, and I spent about seven months in talk therapy,while I was still in high school, to give me tools to combat my symptoms. Now that I’m in college, I’m glad I had the tools to deal with the weird anxiety attacks and stress that is unique to college. So, for those college students who are struggling, I definitely suggest attending some therapy sessions to learn how to combat anxiety. The U offers counseling in the Student Wellness Center for about $14 a session.

15. You’re gonna have weird anxiety attacks, and yes, you will have meltdowns

Everyone tells you college is going to be hard and yeah, it’s not easy for sure. But what no one tells you is you’re gonna have really, really bad days. Whether it be a reaction to a test grade, a feeling of being overwhelmed by assignments all due on the same day, or just feeling strung out because you’ve been studying for midterms for 5+ hours in a row, you’re gonna have some mental breakdowns. How do you combat a mental meltdown? First, take a deep breath. Second, identify your emotions. Are you sad? Are you anxious about failure? Are you angry? Third, rationalize them. Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen from your fear and talk yourself through it. Fourth, just experience your emotion without judgement. Emotions are real and you should experience them because they are.

16. People do dress up on Halloween for classes

17. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about going home

When I came to college, I thought when you live on campus, visiting home was taboo. But, just like most everything in college, no one cares if you like to leave your dorm for home. So, if you live close or have the resources to go home and want to, GO!

18. You’re going to appreciate your parents/caregivers so much more

Especially those who live on campus, you know that having the responsibility of feeding yourself, getting yourself up, fueling your own transportation, doing your own laundry and cleaning, paying for your own day-to-day expenses, and overall being an adult is overwhelming. You will never appreciate all the things your mom/dad/grandparents/whoever raised you did for you until you leave home and have to do it yourself.

19. Do not blend mashed potatoes

Don’t ask

20. You’re gonna lose a lot of random stuff

I want to say within my first week of college I forgot my cardigan in a lecture hall. I left my water bottle in the library (which I was gratefully able to retrieve), and at least 3 of my pens magically disappeared.

21. There’s a lot of junk food in college

I never considered myself as a health guru by any means, but in high school, I didn’t drink a lot of soda, eat a lot of meat products, or have a horribly consistent fast food problem. But I’m pretty sure my first week of college I had eaten at least 3 full boxes worth of Domino's, 5 cans of soda, and at least a full bag of assorted candy. I am happy to say I have gotten the junk food problem under control, but that first week was rough on my hips to say the least.

22. Freshmen do a lot of dumb stuff

I mean-- let’s think about it. Eighteen year olds with their first taste of no-parents, no-rules, no-one is in charge but me, and there’s bound to be some trouble. Between speeding down the road in front of Officer’s Circle, buying a bunny for your dorm, and middle of the night snack runs, I’ve heard a lot of wild things that went on within the first week of classes.

23. All those college tour guides were right-- you need to join organizations to feel like you’re a part of campus

I’m a pretty reclusive person, but I slowly realized that unless I wanted to spend the next four years on my own, I would have to join some organizations. Luckily, all of my interests have worked out. I have so much fun being a part of Her Campus, volunteering with the Bennion Center, and serving as team lead for Bench 2 Bedside.

24. John Mayer’s “No Such Thing” was right

The first line of the chorus goes “I want run through the halls of my high school, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world, just a lie you got to rise above”. Honestly guys- college is only a piece of the real world, and the real world- it’s not as scary as you think. Sure, independence is hard and it’s supposed to be. But no one expects you to know everything off the bat. Others around you can all help in this transition between high school and psudeo-adultness.

25. College...is still school

This seems like a no-brainer, but given the vocabulary of every college tour guide, my family, and my high school faculty, college sounded like it was somehow this fantastical bubble of ‘learning’ and fun. But, to my surprise, classes still consist of writing papers, doing homework, and taking tests. Almost identical to high school education, except for the fact that late work does not exist and the possibility of your professor knowing your name is zilch.

 

I hope you found this both amusing and relatable. College is somewhat of an unknown world until you are finally a student, and even then, you are learning new social norms and facts everyday about being a college student. All you can do is simply enjoy the learning process.  I cannot wait to see what things I learn next semester!

 

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