Starting your freshman year of college is like that scene from Mean Girls where Cady starts her first day of public school: bundles of nerves, lunch in hand, and no looking back. Living hundreds of miles away from home (or even right down the street) with all the freedom in the world is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, you can party every night of the week, but who's going to wake you up for the dreaded 8 am the next morning? Who's going to wash your dirty socks, or cook your favorite meal? Most things I learned this semester go far beyond the classroom, so here are a few things college has taught me so far.
1.) Doing things by yourself is perfectly normal.
No, nobody is going to look at you differently if you walk across campus by yourself, or eat lunch at an empty table. Arriving to college in an unfamiliar place with no safety net of home was scary, and plenty of others (secretly) felt the same way. Everyone is new, yet everyone is also friendly and open. The only way to meet new people is to face the world head on. Plus, nobody makes friends by staying in their dorm all day watching Netflix.
2.) Dining hall food isn't that bad.
There's popular belief that college food is the lowest of the low, you'll get food poisoning from that one specific place on campus, and tons of other crazy conspiracies. I've come to find out in recent weeks that the food here isn't as bad as it seems. Yeah, it doesn't beat my mother's cooking, but at least there's options. From "Taco Tuesdays" to "All You Can Eat Fridays", there's always something decent to eat (unless you run out of meal points the first month of the semester...I learned the hard way.)
3.) Doing laundry sucks.
Spilt Starbucks all over your comforter? Get spaghetti sauce on your brand new white jeans? Oops, it has to be put in the wash. Growing up, I never truly had the responsibility of doing laundry. Now, I have a dreaded love-hate relationship with it. It's a weekly hassle to carry a basket full of dirty clothes and detergent to the laundry room, and most of the time all of the washing machines are full. Did I mention it's $6 to user the washer and dryer?
4.) Going out isn't always a bad thing.
College is full of really fun times, and most people will tell you that when you ask! Don't forget that these are the "glory days" your aunts, uncles, and cousins always talk about. There's no shame in putting on the mini skirt, the heels, and let loose for the night. After all, nobody talks about the nights they got plenty of sleep.
5.) ....Neither is staying in for the night.
Yes, going to parties is fun, but so is having a cozy night to yourself with popcorn and a favorite movie. Don't be afraid to stay in if you don't feel like going out, and don't feel like you're missing out! College is full of tons of opportunities, so taking some alone time for yourself isn't the end of the world!
6.) It's okay to switch friend groups.
Understand that your friend group will change your freshman year, and that's not a bad thing. You might never see your friends from orientation again, and that's not a bad thing, either. As you're exposing yourself to new things, people, and places, you will also be growing as a person. Don't feel down if you grow apart from some people and closer to others.
7.) How to make $25 last a month.
I haven't exactly mastered this one yet, but it's alright. College grants you with so many responsibilities, and one of them is money. Living in a major city is another challenge: there's so many foods and places to explore, but my bank account doesn't let me go far. Buying Starbucks every morning, concert tickets, and books also all add up. Learn to save and learn to budget, because it'll help in the long run.
8.) Studying is more important than you think.
I can not stress this point enough: studying is the key to good grades. In high school, I received good grades without opening up a book. In college, this tactic isn't going to cut it. Take advantage of your professors' study guides, tutoring sessions, and even your school's library. Don't procrastinate a 5 page essay, or cram the night before for a math midterm. Take your assignments one day at the time to avoid stress. Nobody wants to pull a coffee fueled all nighter, because that will do nothing but make you feel worse.
9.) How to be a good roommate.
Living with someone you don't even know is something all college kids worry about. What if they snore? What if we don't get along? Those are problems that can easily be fixed. Learn how to respectful, learn how to live together and separately, but most of all, learn how to be your roommate's family when they need it the most.
10.) How to not take a single day for granted.
While you're caught up in the stress of exams, boy problems, and girl drama, don't forget to live a little. It's important to remember that you only have 4 years to have the time of your life, so make the most of them. One day, you'll have so many amazing memories to look back on.