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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Here are some wise words that I could have benefited from before starting my freshman year, and now you can use them before your first steps on campus.

7 things nobody told me before I went far away for college

1: You’re going to feel weird… like really weird

After having an unforgettable senior year of high school, I felt completely confident and secure to go halfway across the country for college. I had no idea how difficult it would be to start completely fresh without my tightly knit safety-net friend group to fall back on or even some familiar faces for reassurance. I truly felt like a fish out of water, awkwardly flapping around and trying to befriend anyone with a pulse. 

Putting yourself out there is really hard and you may feel like everyone else is doing just fine, but I’m here to tell you that you are definitely not the only one feeling this way. In these moments of doubt, simply take a deep breath and remind yourself that strong friendships can only grow in good time. 

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make friends that are out of your comfort zone. This is the time to not only meet other people but to find out your true self. As for making lifelong friends, don’t be fixated on the first friends you meet, you’ll find people that appreciate you here. You belong here! 


2: You are going to have to quickly learn how to be your own mom

At school, there is no one there to remind you that “it’s getting late and you have a test tomorrow” or “you can’t just wait to do your laundry until you run out of underwear.” College is one massive, ongoing test of self control and balance.

It can be so easy to abuse your newfound freedom and go out too many nights or start skipping classes when you’re too lazy to get out of bed. It is important to recognize your responsibilities and genuinely honor the fact that you are at college for education, not just parties and pizza. 


3: Get involved, but only as much as you can handle

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I have found that so many of us naive freshman fall into a routine that consists of going to class during the week and going out on the weekend, or just staying in. Of course, some majors allow for more free time than others, but either way, college is designed to not only feed you valuable information but also provide you with boundless experiences. 

I am so grateful that I took this advice and filled my schedule with writing for the newspaper, working at a coffee shop, participating in greek life and finding other ways to extend my learning outside of classes. 

No matter what school, there are always opportunities to get involved and even if you feel weird or shy, throwing yourself into a bunch of things will pay off with close friendships and a well-rounded you. Classes are great ways to make connections, but that can sometimes only bring you to surface-level friends; you can only talk so much during class. Clubs that promote your interests can bring you great friends that are interested in the same things you are. 

On the other hand, don’t feel obligated to stay in or join any clubs that aren’t your passion. You want to put things on your resume and join things that matter to you and teach you about yourself. Interested in what’s out there for you? Don’t miss the student org fair the first week of classes!


4: You’ll learn the importance of self care

Personal hygiene shudders at the words “freshman year.” Living in dorms, especially ones with community bathrooms, can become a real challenge for self care. There are the obvious culprits like not wanting to walk alllll the way down the hall to brush your teeth or not feeling like changing your sheets because your bed is lofted. 

There are also silent offenders like sipping yourself into coffee oblivion because #sleepisfortheweak or grabbing that deep fried something because it’s way faster and cheaper than a salad from the supermarket. I am here to tell you that eventually, it will all catch up to you, and it will not be pretty. 

One week I got so stressed out from overbooking my schedule and only allowing myself minimal doses of sleep that I got hives all over my body. I felt negligent for ignoring my health so carelessly that I had to look like a bumpy tomato to slow down and pay attention. 

It is so important to prioritize your health over everything and this goes hand in hand with self control. Know when to replace the coffee with some water and realize when it’s time to call it a night and get some sleep. Just because your new best friend is staying late at the library because they need to cram doesn’t mean you have to — listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. 

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5. You are going to have a newfound appreciation for your parents

When I was having a difficult time adjusting to my new home, my mom was always by the phone to reassure me that friendships and comfortability can only come in good time. Your parents are the only people who are completely, 100 percent invested in your life. They are your number-one fan and their hard work is paying off with you achieving your dreams. There is nothing wrong with communicating with them often. 

You will also learn that your relationship with them, along with any adult, will change drastically the minute you step on campus. When I came home for break, I noticed that everyone was treating me more like an adult. For some of my friends, they feel all the more smothered when they come home. 

Try to understand where this change is coming from and approach this transition it maturely. For many of us, our parents are our biggest supporters and may even be paying for this experience. Through potential frustration and arguments, try and remember that it wouldn’t be possible without their support and don’t forget to thank them. 

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6. You are also going to realize who your true friends are from high school

This isn’t meant to be a subtweet — it is a revelation we all experience. At our high school graduation, I think that for most of us, as we let go of our caps and watched them fly into the air, we knew that we were letting go of something bigger. 

High school is such a unique experience in that a lot of us have known each other for most of our lives. We grew up together — through braces, ridiculous trends, cringe-worthy school dances and young relationships. Then, all of the sudden, we split up and venture out on our own paths, so prepared to inch closer to the ever-elusive adulthood. At the same time, we can easily forget to take in that chapter of our lives that we just finally closed. 

Throughout the course of your first year in college, the gravity of that will start to settle and you will constantly be presented with the option to stay in touch with a high school friend or decide that it’s time to leave them in that chapter. With that in mind, hold on tight to the ones you do decide to keep close. Never underestimate the love and loyalty of your best high school buds.


7. You are going to look back and think about how different you are now

Of course people did tell me this one, but I never took it seriously. Nevertheless, as I reflect on my high school experience and my first year of college, I can’t help but think about how far I have come. It can be very humbling starting fresh in a completely new environment, especially when you can’t drive home for the weekend to take a breather. 

You are going to learn so much more about yourself than you ever have. Embrace the change, whether it be your style, your friends or your likes and dislikes. I think that it’s also so important to keep in mind that everyone else around you is going through this process too. This is a time in our lives where everything about ourselves is in question. We want to prove to the people that helped us get where we are, as well as ourselves, that we can be self sufficient and successful. Be empathetic of this and just try to be friendly and kind to as many people as you can. 

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