This academic year is wrapping up soon. For some it means that they're turning over a new leaf and starting a new life chapter in the next grade moving along the path to maturity. For others it means that they're graduating from high school -which spells a coming of age story for most and a middle age realization at their high school reunion that high school graduation was when they peaked for others-. When it comes to me and my fellow Class of 2016/Class of 2020 undergrads we're close to being done once and for all with our first year of college. Freshman year is gonna be finished...it's been a wild ride, right? We laughed...we cried, we learned, we cried some more, and the biggest feeling I'm having at the moment is that it's crazy surreal. I've got an uneasy sense of anticipation and a strange lament of what's being left behind and what I'll get to experience every day once again. Join me for a break from my very last paper and studying for my last and only final exam -I'm an English major. The only reason I have an exam instead of a 5th final paper is because my foreign language is Japanese- and let's talk about what I've learned at college especially what didn't involve the classroom.
1) Everything feels new first semester and then...not so much the second time around.
Maybe it's because of being used to how classes work with already known professors at my small private liberal arts college, but it's a strange feeling of just..being used to everything. My First Year Seminar (it's pretty self explanatory) Professor asked us on the last day of class first semester if we felt different from the start more sure of things or something like that. All I was thinking was for starters "This is it?" wondering why the last day of classes wasn't being made a bigger deal of because of growing so attached, and that I didn't feel like there was more of a hang of things but just that we'd gained the typical experience that 5 months would grant us.
2) When All Of Your Friends Get Different Schedules Second Semester It Feels Hella Weird.
I'm an English major so I see and become friends with a lot of the same people because of it which made it easy to get a fast friend group first semester, but when friends became more scattered it was easy to feel isolated and more on my own which was definitely something to get used to.
3) All Frat Parties Are The Same And No Fun Without Alcohol and/or Friends.
4) If you're going to be anything, be nice.
This is usually how I approach situations, but it's good to remember that everyone wants to make friends at college and it pays just to introduce yourself and extend a smile. It's also always a fun moment when people you met randomly during orientation weekend still remember you second semester.
5) People will advertise dogs on campus as puppies and this is a blatant lie.
It's not the same thing.
6) What in the name of James Edward Oglethorpe Dead Day's Eve is.
By this time I know of course. Dead Day's Eve is the end of the semester celebration where fun activities are had off campus like go karting, laser tag, and a Braves vs. Mets game among other past activities. It's called Dead Day's Eve because it's the night before the last day of classes before finals week. No one explained this first semester.
7) By the time second semester rolls around the kids touring your school as Prospective Petrels with their parents, competing at scholarship weekend, or there for admitted students' day will look SO young.
8) If you work during the semester you'll make new coworker friends who may or may not also attend your university -several of mine did- but also miss lots of school activities like Stomp The Lawn (the end of the year celebration), random happenings like poetry readings, and dinner.
9) You'll feel so guilty by the end of second semester for all the times you could've used your unlimited meal plan but didn't.
10) You'll also feel guilty for using most of your university granted Starbuck's money in January.
In my defense I had a 9:15 a.m. class. >.<
11) Your spring break will be entirely different than everyone back home's time off.
No class for a week at the beginning of March? No complaints from me.
12) At the beginning of first semester you made it to breakfast every morning. Not so much now.
In my defense I have a 9:15 class....
13) Sleep is so much more coveted than this time last year. Seriously. Get sleep. You'll need it.
14) You'll miss your roommate even if she's not your sister or your spirit animal.
15) You'll miss all the actual animals.
From the beta fish that lives in the common room that your roommates adopted (His name is Louis) to the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds who also call the Ogle bubble their home.
16) The city you knew next to nothing about first semester will start to seem at least a bit smaller.
17) You'll look on in disdain and glare at the sign in the dining hall reminding students to pay with their student IDs for meals.
18) There isn't anything technically healthy about only drinking dark soda and coffee and binging whenever there's powdered donuts in the caf.
Meanwhile I don't care. None of it will be on tap when I get home.
19) Literally every day will be filled with wanting to just hang out in the dining hall and eat but always having assignments to do.
20) There's a popular idea that deteriorating or fragile mental health is universal and something not to be ashamed of. Students that didn't suffer any mental health issues in high school admit to friends and acquaintances that things are really getting to them and those who have always had some kind of mental health issues plaguing them just flash a sideways peace sign because their community gets it. I envy the chill I can't imitate.
21) You can't do everything and go to everything and that's okay.
22) Take chances. Do what you love and try your best. It's always easier to want to be validated as a reason to try things out of your comfort zone, but sometimes you have to be the one to trust in your own ability.
23) If your bedroom is not a productive studying space you only have yourself to blame for not fixing that.
24) Over time things get a lot more chill with Professors. Even if they start out being sarcastic or swearing and generally colloquial you feel on more of a common ground as the year goes on.
25) Even on a small campus of just 1,400 people it can be easy to feel like your existence is forgotten.
It's probably not. Probably.
26) A lot of authority figures will feel less intimidating or elevated. By April or even March your RA will feel even more like just another student.
27) It's a highly ironic moment when your friend who gets shwasted at parties is gonna be an RA.
28) It feels like things will go on forever and you're JUST getting used to this whole college thing. Classes are chill. You're basically responsible, you've got a pretty good group, and SO many things taped to the wall in your room.
29) You'll want another month but to leave right now at the exact same time. It's really confusing.
30) No matter how much you or friends might joke about dropping out, however many times you'll feel like you're the only one crying for any reason, or feel like you miss your family and the things you've held dear for so much longer more than anything it'll feel so strange to be leaving. If you're anything like me then the reason why is that you love your school.
31) Even though it's been difficult more than difficult devastating at times. Long distance relationships are hard.
While they aren't impossible they also aren't for the faint of heart. If anyone else is anything like me and have experienced a long distance relationship while at college with someone they're in love with you've probably thought to yourself so many times that you'd give it all up just to be with them. It's good that you (most likely) didn't, but we shouldn't feel bad for having this cross our minds.
32) Ending the semester grants a glimpse of all the experiences left to come...as well as anticipation for the next 3 years.
I still haven't even seen my university's museum....