While I learned a great deal this semester about integrals, oligopolies, cause marketing, and sociological mindfulness, my major takeaways from this semester have absolutely nothing to do with school itself (sorry mom and dad). It’s hard to believe that my first semester as a college freshman is already over. There were plenty of highs and equally as many lows, and oddly enough, I’m just as thankful for each. This semester, I learned what makes me happy as well as what makes me sad. I learned a lot of pointless things such as what Starbucks drinks have the most caffeine content but the least amount of calories (it’s the clover brewed coffee, but it’s disgusting, don’t try it), as well as many meaningful things such as what people in my life make me the best version of myself. When all's said and done, I would not change a thing about the last four months, because each experience, good or bad, had a purpose. While this list could be ridiculously long, here are the 12 most prominent things I learned during my first semester at the University of Texas.
1. School spirit isn’t lame - it’s actually lame if you don’t have it
Getting ready for the first football game, I had no idea what to expect. I was wearing burnt orange, so I obviously thought I was already ‘Texas’ enough. However, it wasn’t until I was at my first tailgate and the entire crowd started screaming our school’s song, that I realized I was far from a true fan. I assumed my friends and I would get to the game, sit there for an hour, then head back to our dorm considering it was 100 degrees outside. Boy, was I wrong. We stood on the bleachers the entire game screaming fight every time we heard texas all the way through second overtime as we watched our longhorns defeat Notre Dame 50-47. Never before have I felt so a part of something - something that was so much bigger than myself. It was an amazing feeling, to say the least.
2. Not every friendship will last forever.
This was a tough lesson to learn, but such an important one. Many high school friendships won’t carry over to college, and that’s perfectly okay. You will stop checking in on your ‘best friends’ just as they will stop checking in on you. A few will stick around, and they are all you need. The same lesson goes for your new college friends, too. Right when you get to school, you will cling to those around you, just because everything is so new. However, once you meet more people, you will cling to those with similar morals and likes, rather than just similar dorms and classes.
3. Being passionate about something isn’t stupid.
In high school, it’s so easy to be labeled a loser for excessively caring about something. For me, I would always play off when something made me excited because I feared getting judged. However, in college, I’ve met so many people that actually care about what I care about. They took the time to get to know me and the things that I treasure, and actually took an interest in what makes me happy. Nothing is more fulfilling than knowing true friends like this exist.
4. Making decisions for YOU is the most important thing you can do
One thing that does not change from high school to college is the need to follow the crowd. But in college, it’s must easier to find a crowd that makes similar decisions to your own. If you notice the people you are hanging around aren’t exactly the best influence on you, just find new people. In high school, if you distance yourself from your friend group, you still have to see them every day and feel more awkward and uncomfortable with each encounter. However, in college, you only have to see the people you want to see. With all of that being said, you don’t owe anyone anything. Make decisions with your best interests at heart, not anyone else’s.
5. FOMO is real, but it really doesn’t matter.
For all of you that don’t know what FOMO is, it’s the fear of missing out. My first month of college, I was consumed with FOMO. Every night I didn’t go out, I sat replaying my friends snapchats, wondering if they are forgetting about me. It took my roommate harshly telling me how ridiculous I was being as well as a few bad grades to realize that just because I decided to spend the night in the library, does not mean that my friends loved me any less. This goes with what I was saying above, but make sure you are doing what is best for you at all times. You can go downtown any night, but you can only take your calculus final once.
6. Nobody is keeping tabs on you.
At first, this may seem like a good thing, because what 18 year old isn’t ready for a little independence, but it actually can get you feeling pretty lonely. There’s that month period where you don’t have any super solidified friendships, where you could really go a few days without anyone reaching out to you asking you what you are up to, and that can get pretty sad. Always remember that your parents are trying to give you your space, but would always love to talk to you. So if you’re ever feeling lonely, give them a call!
7. Gaining weight sucks, but it doesn’t mean people will love you any less.
No feeling was worse than trying on dresses for my first semi-formal, realizing for the first time the little bit of weight I’ve gained. No matter how many times my mom told me I looked great or my roommate said it wasn’t noticeable, I felt absolutely horrible about myself. It actually got so bad that I almost faked sick the day of the formal because I felt so gross in my dress. Thankfully, I went, and it was one of my most memorable nights of college thus far. My friends still laughed with me and danced by my side all night long, despite how I thought I looked. Health is important and boy do I wish I would have established a more consistent exercise routine early on, but beating yourself up about a few pounds is so not worth it.
8. Stop buying cute clothes, you will never wear them.
I panicked about a week before school started and convinced my mom to let me make four or five online orders because no clothes that I had were really ‘college’ enough. Little did I know that I would maybe put on a pair of jeans once every other week and only do my hair for game days. If I could give you one piece of advice, it’s to stock up on hats and athletic shorts. The only reason I had to do laundry so frequently was because I would run out of shorts to wear to class. Also, nothing disguises your should’ve-washed-this-yesterday hair more than a nice hat!
9. Being in a sorority is nothing like the movies.
Believe it or not, I actually almost dropped rush after the first day. The girls around me were exactly as I expected - caddy and stuck up. However, I’m so glad I stuck it out because the ladies I’m lucky enough to now call my sisters were the true friends I’ve been searching, what feels like forever, for. They are more genuine than I could’ve ever imagined and are by my side through it all. They aren’t just girls to go out and party with, but girls to motivate you as you sit together in the library at 5:30 in the morning, hours before a big test.
10. Being in a sorority is exactly like the movies.
Yes, I know I just said it was nothing like the movies. However, there are so many aspects of Greek Life that are exactly like the movies. Think (the good parts of) House Bunny - every girl builds her sisters up to help them reach their full potential. We are all each other’s biggest fans. I mean, just look at a UT Zeta’s Instagram comments and you will see more “omg yes girls” than you ever thought possible.
11. Venmo and Favor is all you need.
If someone told me I could only keep two apps on my phone for the next four years, I would keep Venmo and Favor over every social media app I have. Nothing is worse than sitting in the library with a hunger headache and not wanting to leave. Thankfully, Favor is always there to get me whatever food I want within a reasonable time frame. While it can get a little pricey, that’s where Venmo comes in. Find those $3 delivery fee spotlight restaurants and split a favor between 5 of your friends who can just immediately Venmo you for how much their meal costs. Then you are paying less than a dollar per person to have the best sushi rolls in West Campus in your hands within 30 minutes without having to move an inch. Laziness at it’s finest.
12. You will constantly feel like you’re dying - going to the doctor isn’t worth the trip.
This title is totally exaggerated in that if you really feel like you’re dying, definitely go to the doctor, however, ask any current college freshman, you do feel sick almost all of the time. It’s probably just a combination of getting used to thousands of other people from all over the world’s germs and sleep deprivation. If my friends and I combined the amount of money we have spent at Urgent Care so far this year just to be told that we probably just have a cold and that we should take some Dayquil and drink a lot of water, we’d have enough money to just drop out and not worry about exposing ourselves to these ridiculous germs in the first place. Bottom line: don’t start self-diagnosing yourself on WebMD and just take a nap, I’m sure that will help.
While a lot of these lessons were learned the hard way, I would not trade my first semester at the University of Texas for anything in the world. HOOK ‘EM!