12 Hard Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going To College

12 Hard Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going To College

You're so caught up in the excitement of getting away from home and beginning the best time of your life, that no one has the heart to tell you the sometimes hard to hear advice.
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College is weird. For instance, walking to the library the other day, I saw a kid wearing a tail. But the hardest part of going away to college is that you're so caught up in the excitement of getting away from home and beginning the best time of your life, that no one has the heart to tell you the sometimes hard to hear advice. College is a shit show disaster a lot of the time, and while it might be the best times of your life when you look back on it, it isn't always so great going through it. Here's some of the advice I wish I had gotten when I was about to start my freshman year.

1. Your heart is going to get broken.

Whether it's by the douchey guy in your building, or when you think you aced an exam just to find out you failed it (shoutout to the Chem department!), your heart is going to be broken. And for the first time, your mom won't be there to rub your back while you cry, and you're going to feel really lost. Not only will you feel lost, you'll feel a little empty, a little crushed and a little desperate. Don't worry - this feeling passes, and you learn. You work harder, you protect yourself a little better, and you will become a stronger version of yourself.

2. You will have a breakdown in the library - and that's okay.

Now that I've almost completed my second year of college, I've lost count of how many times I have hysterically cried in the library bathroom. It'll happen to you too - college is overwhelming, especially around exam season when you have three exams, a test, and a literal mountain of homework in a three day span. Everyone has had these moments, and while I won't be cliche and say that they'll make you stronger, you will get through them. You might even make a friend who is also having a nervous breakdown in the bathroom, and have someone to cry with!

3. You're going to fail an exam/class/something. Know it, and accept it.

College is hard. I don't think anyone is arguing that point. No matter what your major is, you're going to take some really hard classes with unfair professors and unforgiving departments that never make exceptions. You're going to fail at least one exam and maybe even a class. If nothing else, you're going to fail some major assignment for a class. Don't fret - work twice as hard the next time, and if you're lucky, the class will get curved and you'll be fine regardless.

4. You're going to have those moments where you think you aren't smart enough to be here.


This one happened to me when I walked out of an exam that I thought was impossible despite how hard I had studied for it, and all my friends were going on and on about how easy it was. I did end up failing that exam (see above), and I was so convinced that Ohio State admitting me was a mistake, and I should be somewhere where the academics are easier. But that would mean that I wasn't being challenged, and I would ultimately never learn anything. As hard as it might be, and as shitty as it might feel, being challenged is the best thing you can do for yourself.

5. You're going to ugly cry at 2 a.m. because you miss home.


I mean ugly cry like Kim Kardashian in almost every episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. No matter how close you are to home, you're going to feel homesick and really really miss your mom's cooking after a few months of campus food. That's normal, and most of the people around you are going to feel just as homesick. Keep hanging with those dope friends you've found at school, and call your friends from home and your parents. I always feel better after a nice long phone call with my mom. Also crying is apparently super healthy. So get your cry on!!

6. You're going to see tweets/Facebook posts/Instagram posts/etc of high schoolers complaining and want to kill them.

I couldn't tell you why it's so annoying when high schoolers complain about the amount of work they have to do, but it really gets under my skin. This is a weird list item (which is why it's hidden in the middle!!). But you're going to have to resist the urge to reply to their posts and tell them what a big storm they have coming - don't. Try and keep up the image that you are an adult who has their life together (especially if you're like me, and are the fakest adult that has ever existed). Karma will get them for those posts later, and remember how stressful high school felt at the time.

7. You're going to struggle academically. Own it.


I live in the library and religiously attend my professors' office hours. I own the fact that I am struggling and seek out help. Don't be embarrassed to admit that you're struggling - there are an insane amount resources to help you do great in your classes. Moreover, the library is not ~lame~. I can promise you that you will get nothing done if you try to study in your room!! Go to the libraries!! More than that, a lot of professors will be more willing to boost your grade if they recognize you - and it never hurts to get to know your professors (especially if you're interested in things like research!).

8. You're going to fight with your roommate(s).


I don't care if your roommate is your best friend from high school, or they were randomly assigned to you. You're going to fight. Living in a confined space with someone is really hard, and even harder if there's four of you crammed into a small space. The key is to talk through it like the mature adults that college kids are supposed to be, and don't hold grudges. One of my freshman year roommates threatened to kill me, so I promise I'm an expert on this point.

9. You're going to get sick and wonder how natural selection hasn't chosen you yet.

The first time I got sick in college, I for real thought I was going to die. I only got out of bed to go to class and slept the other parts of the day. I texted my mom every 15 minutes to update her on how I was feeling (which she was thrilled by), and I honestly didn't know if I was going to make it through. The irony was that I had a literal cold. I have no idea how natural selection didn't pick me out of the lineup right then and there because obviously I am not meant to survive. But you'll learn how to read the boxes of medicine to figure out what will you make you feel better, and you'll survive. And learn how to make your own doctor's appointment, a life skill I have still not mastered.

10. You'll feel lost.

I like to think of myself as a confident person; I know exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life, and I have a concrete plan to do it. But despite that, I've had many an existential crisis while in college. You'll feel like you haven't found your calling yet, or that you're wasting your time because you're not doing things you're passionate about. You just have to get through it. Ground yourself with your friends, both at school and at home, and your family - find little things to keep yourself occupied. I learned to crochet, and that kept my hands busy when I was feeling lost and aimless. It's a phase, and you'll get through it, and you'll figure out where you need to be and who you are.

11. You'll want to change your major/career/school/drop out.

The number of times I threatened to drop out was honestly obscene. College was too hard, things were too stressful, I missed home, and I was convinced I could make a living from my crappy minimum wage job at home. Power through - my best advice is to pick something each week to look forward to. It'll help you get through each week, and realize that there are good things about college. And as for changing your major or school, you have to do what you have to do. I changed my major because it was the right choice for me and my goals, but that's a personal choice that shouldn't be made lightly!! The big question you have to ask yourself is whether or not your life will be better/easier/happier if you change your major/career/school, and you'll find your way! You'll get through it!

12. You're going to really struggle with time management (no matter how good you were at it in high school).

The FOMO about going out is REAL. Even if you were great at time management in high school, you're going to struggle to force yourself to stay in to study for that exam or to miss out on a cool hang out to go to class. And while Cardale Jones wasn't here to play school, you are!! I don't really have any ~winning~ advice about this one because I am still terrible at time management and have had a lot of long nights in the library.

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hor air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

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A Letter To the Lady Who "took" my dog

Everyone knows how it feels to lose a pet in one way or another.

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The most I remember feeling is angry. I was confused, upset, but most of all just furious. I was hurt by my parents, frustrated with my friend's lack of help—though there was considerable attempt--, and saddened by the fact that I was likely to lose my year-old Australian Shepherd, Terra Blu.

My family had gotten Terra almost a year after our previous Aussie, Kaiya, died at the age of four from an infectious disease the veterinarians were unable to catch swiftly enough. Kaiya's sudden death shook me terribly. I'd begged for a dog since I had been little, and it seemed cruel to have her removed from my world so painfully and randomly. I did what most typically do after a family member dies; cry, mope, and swear to never want another like her. My resolve to never own another dog faded after two weeks in the house without her.

As most long-term pet owners know, the house takes on a different mood when a fuzzy companion leaves the world. The windows look plain without wet nose splotches staining them, the dog bed next to the door is only a painful reminder, and the red-rimmed eyes and despondency of others don't improve relations. After so much raw emotion followed by lack of feeling at all by the entire household, I was convinced that another dog would be the cure to our predicament—only I wanted Kaiya, but I figured another would have to do.

Flash forward to slightly less than a year later; it would be early spring. I hear the door open and look to see my father walking in with a dog bed. Kaiya's bed I'd assumed; I would realize later it was a new dog bed. I immediately stood and said in an accusing tone, "What do you think you are doing with that?"

He only held out one hand and said, "Don't scream." That cued my mother to walk in behind him holding an eight-week-old Aussie she called KyLor Blu. I didn't scream. Instead I covered my eyes, beginning to cry, and stumbled into the living room, hiding from a baby ball of fur. I didn't want to see her, touch her, or be near her for about two minutes. Then I was all over her. I knew instantly that she would never be like Kaiya, but she could become a part of our family.

The year spent with the new puppy had a lot of changes. The first being my insistence on changing the name to Terra Blu, because, no we cannot call KyLor Ky like we called Kaiya Kai. Having a puppy was fun but she did all the things puppies do, from eating my favorite pair of heels to peeing on my lap. Regardless, even after destroying yet another bra of mine, she managed to work her way into my and my family's hearts and continued to do so even after she ate the last aglet off of our shoes.

She was smart. She didn't have as strong as a willingness to please as Kaiya did—I could never stop creating comparisons--, but she wanted to learn when it suited her. I'd built her an obstacle course from farm parts lying around, she could catch the frisbee in air, and also managed to miraculously catch a few birds from on the ground. But a year goes fast when it's senior year of high school and soon I was off to college, leaving my dog behind.

At college, changes were occurring at home that I was left out of. From my cat dying, the rabbit being put down, and the chickens being sold all at the looming prospect of the divorce of my parents. Spoiler alert, they didn't divorce. But in that time, they did give away my dog.

I was the one who suggested that we find another home for Terra. She was obviously stressed when I'd been home for Christmas break. I could see her discomfort as she felt the dissatisfaction between my parent's relationship. Of course, I suggested it planning to give her to one of my friends. I had multiple who had shown interest in such a sweet dog (one that was finally out of the worst of the puppy stage). In the end, none of the homes worked out. But it was alright, because apparently my family had found a good home and I would get to spend one last week with her over spring break, right?

What actually happened was, due to an untimely death and a series of unfortunate events, Terra was rehomed early and I was given the choice to asked for her back for a week or let her stay in her new home, as she was already well adjusted. It's difficult to do what's best when it hurts, but I asked for her to stay with her new home, a kind couple in their 50's. I did end up being a little selfish and asked to visit her.

This brings me to the real point of this letter. Thank you.

To the kind couple who let me come see their property and my, now your, dog. Terra has been blessed with owners who have more time for her and who gladly walk her once, sometimes twice, a day. She's been blessed with a less stressful household and owners that have time, and make time, for her. I know there has been a hole in your heart left by a previous pawprint and I'm happy she can do for you what she did for me.

Thank you for sending me a picture when I ask, for letting me join you on your walks when I am able, and for sharing her time with me. It's not easy. I'm sorry I cry when I see her bounding towards me, wagging her whole butt to make up for her lack of tail and I'm sorry she lingers at my car door, waiting to be let in when I leave.

But I also see how she's not sad or scared from the fighting. I see how she only cares about figuring out how to be friends with the geese sitting at your pond. And I see how she doesn't say goodbye after our walks, instead running to find your husband to say hello. So, one last time, thank you for doing what my family could not.

Cover Image Credit:

Dawn Lunde Pearson

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