3 Things My First Semester Of College Taught Me

3 Things My First Semester Of College Taught Me

"I went to college because I didn’t have anywhere else to go and it was a fabulous hang. And while I was there I was exposed to this world that I didn’t know was possible." -Tom Hanks
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College is no cake walk. You're on your own for maybe the first time in your life. Here are a few key things that my first semester at Purdue taught me..

1. The Freshman 15 is not a myth.

Food courts can make you go nuts. There's mac n cheese, build your own pizza, an ice cream bar, and a giant stack of plates to help you eat it all. May I also mention Mom is not around to cut you off? Desserts for dinner? Why not? I personally love any of the "Make-your-own" stations. It so easy to eat all the sugars and carbs, but then it sucks because a few months later you realize you've been putting off the gym, but not the cookies and you no longer fit into your favorite pair of jeans. Indulge every now and then, but be mindful to eat your fruits and veggies.

2. Be social.

It is so easy to lock yourself in your dorm and binge watch Netflix for the whole weekend, but please don't. You will have your whole life to sit at a desk all day. Don't take these four years for granted. You'll have to step out of your comfort zone, but it'll broaden your horizon on all the opportunities out there. It's college, something will always be going on. Join a club that seems interesting, try out intramural sports, maybe rush Greek life. Whatever sparks your interest go for it. If it turns out not to be something you enjoy, no biggie. There's always others. The main goal is to go out and make friends and de-stress. As much as I really didn't want to I decided to try going out to a tailgate. I went in knowing maybe one or two people and then left with three new friends. The more I went out the closer I became with strangers that I now call my close friends. Just be sure to not let your social life rule over your academic life. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Don't forget to study, study, study.

It's just you when you head off to college. You are solely in charge of yourself. It is up to you beat those due dates, get to classes on time, etc. This affected me especially when it came to classes. It took me the first few exams to learn a thing or two on what college academics are really about. Studying should not be taken lightly. Not everyone studies the same so you have to learn what methods work for you whether it be flashcards or writing open ended questions. Whatever works best for you. The beginning of my semester I used my breaks between classes to nap, but by November I was reading my Planetary Science book and writing definitions down and then napping for maybe 30 minutes. Hanging out with friends turned into intense study dates as the months went on. Grades did matter in high school, but now they really matter because on top of a diploma you are also trying to get a job and hopefully a career.

You don't study to merely pass a test you study to really know the material and to understand it so one day you can put that information to good use. The most important note is to know is that sometimes you will get bad grades regardless of how much effort you put in. A percentage number does not define your entire intellect. Don't strive for that A for the sole purpose of passing the class, strive to understand the material for yourself so you know you can apply it.

On top of those three points there are many more minor lessons to add on. I've only been in college for five months and I can say it has changed who I am. You quickly began to discover and learn new aspects of yourself that you hadn't noticed before. You make new friends, try crazy things, and learn life is more than textbooks and schedules. Whether you laugh or cry, you love every second of it and won't change it for the world.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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The Most Important Things I've Learned From Taking Philosophy

The biggest takeaways that I have collected from my time in my Philosophy class.

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When registering for classes for Fall 2018, I found myself drawn to Philosophy 126: Mind, Brain, Self & Evolution. I figured the class would give me the opportunity to perform a lot of introspection during my first semester at college while also helping me fulfill some General Education requirements, and I couldn't have been more right. I've never had the pleasure of taking a class with such a loose agenda and the freedom to discuss every aspect of the information we are learning. That said, there have been a few major takeaways from this class.

First is the idea that you are not the sum of your parts, but the sum of your parts and the parts of everyone around you. Most people have heard the overused quote "It takes a village to raise a child," but this idea couldn't be more than true. We subconsciously pull so many of our habits, preferences, etc. from the people around us that we ultimately grow to become a community within ourselves, and there is something truly beautiful about that. It takes a village to raise a child to become a village.

Second, I've learned how important it is to understand that if some big philosophical or psychological or physical problem has not been solved yet, there is rarely going to be one solution to it. Millions of years of group thought have placed us in the intellectual shoes we are in, and yet we still question every day what our "purpose" is. There are thousands of theories and possible answers to this question, but who's to say that they aren't all correct? Some aspects of life are just too subjective to be answered objectively.

Lastly is the separation between gaining knowledge and experiential learning. Both are arguably equal in their significance, but we don't truly think about how immensely different the two concepts are until we are forced to. In philosophy, there is a theory centered around this experimental design called "Mary's Room." The story is that a woman named Mary has lived in a black and white room her whole life but has grown up learning everything about color and the human reaction to it (biologically, psychologically, etc.).

Once the door to her room is opened and she sees the color red for the first time, she has just learned something new despite already knowing everything there is to know about the concept of color. Experience is the most important part of the human condition and should not be disregarded when it comes to learning.

There are so many aspects of our existence that we never consider on a daily basis simply because we don't have to. There is something unique about people who are in touch with themselves spiritually: they have a greater understanding not just of who they are, but of who they are in relation to the rest of the world. In a fast-paced, Type A world it is especially easy to lose sight of the importance of experiencing humanity, and we often take this beautiful gift for granted.

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