Second Semester and What I've Learned so Far

Being three weeks into semester two here at UWL, I feel as though I’ve definitely gotten the hang of being a college student (of course, by this point, right?). I’ve been doing lots of self-reflection and have come to realize some important lessons that every high school student, or even college student, for that matter, should read if they are in need of hope or inspiration. Obviously, I have a long journey ahead of me (so exciting and a bit scary!), but I feel that taking a look over my shoulder to see how far I’ve come is essential to continuing happiness.

You REALLY don’t need to have life planned out.

I heard it all the time in high school, the question of “what’s your major?”. It frustrated me, thinking that I had to decide on a sole major and minor, basically signing my life away to a career choice at seventeen years old. The truth is (and I’m sure you’ve heard this too), you truly don’t need to know what major is the fit for you. I’ve been safely rested in my English major, content and overjoyed with the journey ahead—because honestly, English is THRILLING to me. And that’s not sarcasm (although I’m sure some of you are reading this in disbelief, possibly even rolling eyes). It’s true, I love English. And I know that someday, I’d love to be able to say that I’m a published author. But, right now I’m taking general classes and the completion of my dream feels extremely far away. I have no idea what will lie in between the two points in my life, but I can say that I’m ALMOST content with that. I have extreme trust in the Lord, so I know that everything will turn out perfectly. Until then, I’ve learned to worry less and just enjoy the ride. Because the view is pretty great.

 

Enjoy the littlest things.

Money is tight, classes can be boring, and homework can be overwhelming. But why focus on the negative? Treat yourself to a coffee. Do something fun with friends. Find joy in your classes—is it interesting? Give yourself breaks from homework! Smile at the sunshine. In the dining center, EAT THE BREADSTICKS. It’s worth it. Make cookies in the basement. Have movie nights with friends. Go on a midnight hike. Join an intramural sports team. Listen to a new Spotify playlist. Go to bed early. Take a nap. Decorate the room. Admire the flowers, leaves, or snow outside. Cherish a warm bed to sleep in. Text your mom!

These are only a few ‘little things’, but try to find positivity and happiness in your daily life, no matter how small!

Go for it.

When I was younger, I was shy, and in the back of my mind there’s always the fear that it will somehow hold me back. Don’t let the fear take over! Try something new and put yourself out there! Do things out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself! Join a club that interests you. Take a class that sounds fun! Take the midnight hike to Kwik Trip, in several inches of snow. When I was younger, it was hard for me to be comfortable sharing my writing. As I grew older, I found a desire to share my work with the world. Here I am, passionate about writing, now, more than ever, and writing this article, among others. Happy writing, happy reading.

Exercise—for more reasons than the obvious.

Yes, yes, we’ve all heard of the freshman fifteen. Please, don’t let that scare you. Just enjoy the cookie and move on with life. Regardless, working out is obviously healthy for you. That’s the main reason I take the trek to the REC, even when temperature digits are the equivalent to the number of half marathons I’ve run (it’s one). I may be exaggerating, but it can be hard to stay motivated and keep to a schedule for working out. When I work out almost daily, though, I feel happier and more energized. So find those songs/that playlist that you love, and kick butt! Grab some friends and it can be a fun way to hang out.

Take advantage of a good movie night.

Sometimes, especially when I’m not feeling well, just chilling with friends can be so beneficial. Enough said, right? Watch one or watch a marathon—either way, it can be so life-saving.

 

Meet up with high school friends.

I knew I would miss my high school friends like crazy (we were, and still are, super close). But when you meet up with those friends from high school, it’s as if you haven’t been apart for a while! It can be so fun to road trip to see friends and catch up! It’s just good for the soul, seeing those friends again.

It’s easy to dive deeper into your faith.

I was concerned that with coming to college, it would be more difficult to strengthen my faith than if I was at home. But this is so untrue! With so many Bible Studies and clubs on campus, along with local churches to attend, I’ve found it EASIER to grow in faith. There are so many resources that have helped me dive deeper into my faith, and it has been so beneficial within my life!

Go home and see your family.

First semester I barely went home. Of course, I missed home, especially with being very close to my family, but I wanted to get accustomed to school and to be honest, I was having fun! Second semester though, I’ve realized, what do I have to prove? I love La Crosse, but I miss home and my family. So, I’m taking the time to relax and find my roots again. Being home reminds me of how far I’ve come. Spending the well-deserved time at home allows for me to recuperate and be prepared to tackle the week on Monday.

Finals suck—might as well spice them up and have a little fun.

Yes, preparation for finals is necessary, which often means hours of studying or tedious final projects to work on. Either way, take a break! Plan a movie night with friends or even fit an hour-long coffee break with a friend into your schedule. You’ll thank yourself later, for slightly relieving some of that stress. It’s worth it. Stay calm—you will get through it. And remind yourself that finals are the only thing between you and Winter/Summer Break.

Be thankful for the amazing people you have in your life.

Take a moment to look around you and feel truly thankful for the people in your life. Schoolwork can be rough sometimes, but friends and the fun memories you make together make it not so bad after all. Focus on gratitude instead of negativity.