As the summer comes to an end, I can only look back at this time last year and remember how much I was freaking out about going to college. The weeks leading up to me leaving home for the first time to go to college definitely had me stressed out. I was really worried about saying bye to old friends, adjusting to living on my own, making new friends and fitting in at a new place…
Although these were all relevant fears, I eventually overcame them. I really don’t know how I managed to get through the first few weeks of freshman year, but I did.
I think for some people it’s easy and for others it's difficult, but let’s face it: the first few weeks of freshman year are probably the weirdest few weeks of your entire college experience. It’s awkward, lonely, funny, and sad… You’re in a new place for the first time, you don’t know what you are doing and you (probably) don’t know many people.
That being said I’m going to get very real, perhaps, even pessimistic. I didn’t have the best time of my life at the start of freshman year. And, if I were able to go back, these are the things I wish I knew:
1. Ditch the lanyard
I literally wish someone told me that wearing the free lanyard they give you for your keys and ID isn’t cool or useful. Because I totally did that for like a month… It’s a big giveaway that you are a freshman, and you can just keep it in your bag and not around your neck.
2. Now is the time to make mistakes
What you do now is not going to stay with you forever. Now is the time to ask for directions to a classroom to avoid being late, or to text your OL to ask random questions. You can hook up with randos at a frat party and not regret it, or even make friends with people just to realize you never want to hang out with them again. Take risks; leave your comfort zone behind, you just got here.
3. Introduce yourself to your hallmates
It’s not weird to be outgoing. You should go around, maybe even with your roommate, and try to introduce yourself to everyone on your floor. You’re going to be living there for the next year! You should become friendly with your hallmates, who knows, you might even become best friends with them too.
4. Don’t let expectations distort your reality
People say that college years are “the best years of your life,” but you definitely won’t feel that way during the first few weeks of school. Don’t let the snap stories of your hometown friends cause you FOMO. Thinking that college is the answer to all of your questions is just completely wrong; college is college, it’s up to you to make it what you want.
5. Try to make meal plans
The last thing you want is to be hungry and have no one to eat with, unless you’re the type of person who can eat alone. (I’m not, but it's completely okay and not uncommon if you are.) Try to find people to eat with! Make plans! Meet people! It all adds up.
6. Accept that everything is going to be awkward for a while
It’s true. You can’t avoid awkward situations, awkward silences in conversations when meeting people for the first time, awkward encounters with someone who you forgot their name... It just happens. If you cringe about every little thing, it’s going to get you nowhere. Just embrace the awkwardness and move on.
7. Get involved
Seriously go to the club fair when school starts and sign up for as many clubs as possible. Keep an open mind and try a bunch of things out, you're bound to find some new interests. This is how you meet people while doing fun things!
8. Don’t expect to be friends forever
People will say it over and over again, but it’s true. It’s rare that you remain close with someone who you became close with at the beginning of freshman year. That’s not to say it’s not possible, as I’ve kept a few early friends myself. But everyone is trying to find their place and people will come and go…
9. The Freshman 15 is no joke
It really isn’t though. Although I’ve seen it go both ways. Save yourself now and watch what you’re eating. Pizza is never the answer.
10. Everyone else is lonely too
I personally feel like this is the most important thing. Literally everyone is trying to make friends and find their place at school, it’s not only you. Fake it till you make it becomes such a big thing, because so many people look like they are having the time of their lives but probably feel as lost as you. A lot of my friends from school and from home have said the same thing: the first few weeks are rough, nobody breezes through, and you’re not alone.
11. Things will fall into place
I’m a strong believer in the whole “everything that happens is meant to be” concept. But I think it’s applicable to freshman year too. I was so worried about how things would work out, and I was so convinced that I wasn’t going to be able to ever settle in. But, I eventually did. You’re going to meet “your people” and you’re going to create your own niche. You'll study what you love, and if you don't know what that is yet, it's okay. There is plenty of time and you'll figure it out. It just happens over time. By the end of freshman year you’ll look back and smile about how everything worked out.
Congratulations and good luck to the class of 2019!