6 Things I've Learned In My First Semester of College

6 Things I've Learned In My First Semester of College

College really is all it's hyped up to be...
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Finally, the first semester of college has ended. You're studying or have taken your finals, your home friends are discussing where to get dinner when you all get back, and your suitcase is all packed up. When getting on the plane to come home, I couldn't help but look through my camera roll at the past few months. Starting with my empty room, I scrolled past my first frat party, my welcome week friends, my first tailgate, my last tailgate, and everything in between. I started thinking about the many things I learned since September and narrowed it down to __ points.

1. Do your work between classes

I think I can speak for everyone when I say college work is not easy. In my opinion, I took a pretty easy course load this semester, and I was still constantly doing work. Although it's easy to get overwhelmed by the workload, I found it really nice to have more time to do it all. In high school, everything was so structured. I barely had any time to do work between classes so I had to do it all the night before it was due.

Sometimes I wouldn't get home 'til 7 or 8 and I would be up until 3 a.m. making flashcards or editing papers. Now don't get me wrong, I still sometimes am awake in the middle of the night doing work in college- but it's different. I actually have the ability to get things done in between or after my classes.

The capacity for you to create your own schedule: choose when you want to eat, when you want to sleep, and when you want to do your work was a game changer for me and definitely helped me find a balance between staying in and going out.

2. Finding your best friends takes time

One thing that shocked me, along with all my friends from home, is how hard it is to create meaningful friendships. It's strange to think about how most of us haven't actively tried to make friends since elementary school. I went to college with my best friend, but despite her being there I still struggled to make best friends.

There were so many people that I liked and am still great friends with today; but, I still found myself missing my home friends like crazy. I learned that I had to hang in there and keep putting in effort. You can't make friends if you don't put yourself out there and try to meet new people.

And although it may take some time, I learned that it will happen eventually, and once it does, you will find the best friends you never thought you would have.

3. Actually talk to your classmates

The most terrified I have ever been was walking into my first lecture. In high school, I knew everybody that was in my classes, but at college, I knew absolutely nobody — and I'm so thankful I didn't. Since I went into my classes blind, I forced myself to befriend people sitting around me, and it was the best thing I could have done. Not only did doing this give me people to study with, but also led me to meet my best friends.

There is someone I met in every class that I love and will keep in touch with despite the semester being over. Going to a big school has that perk: no matter how many friends you have, there are always more people to meet. Knowing how close I got with my first semester "school friends" makes me so excited to meet my second-semester ones.

4. It's OK to be homesick

When I left for school I was so beyond ready to leave home. Although I love my family, I felt suffocated and couldn't wait for newfound independence. And yes, in college I am able to do my own thing without worrying about my curfew.

However, I missed my family so much more than I thought I would, but I learned that that's okay. Everyone misses their families sometimes and it's completely normal to not be completely adjusted within the first few months.

5. The freshman 15 is real

Yup. Can't even deny this one. When going into college, I heard rumors about the freshman 15, but I always thought it was an urban legend. I have a fast metabolism, 3 slices of pizza at 2 a.m. won't affect me! Nope, I was wrong. It's definitely easy to gain a few pounds just by stress alone. Drinking, drunk-eating, and snacking definitely doesn't help. And although I attempted to make it to the gym, I always found myself making excuses not to. The first semester definitely taught me that I have to be responsible and watch what I eat (a little bit more..).

6. Rally, because college is so. much. fun.

I think I speak for everyone when I say my first semester of college was the best time of my life. Despite just the parties and tailgates, being independent is exciting- embrace it. In high school, I constantly had the stress of applying to college over my head. I put 110% of my energy into getting into a good university that I can be proud of. And now that I did that, it's time to just sit back and enjoy. Enjoy the (mostly) interesting classes I'm taking, enjoy the new friends I'm making, and enjoy all of the late nights I'm having. The first semester taught me not to sit in my room every night because no matter what the night is guaranteed to be fun.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.
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If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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5 Important Skills Your First Midterm Season At College Will Teach You

It is so easy to fall behind in college.

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At my high school, teachers were not allowed to give midterms or finals because it was "too stressful" on the students. Although it was nice while we were in high school, now that I am in college I wish that I did have to take midterms or finals because now when I am taking midterms I am still learning how to study for them. This semester is the first time I have ever had to take midterms so I wanted to share five things I have learned this midterm season.

1. Staying on top of things

It is so easy to fall behind in college. Learning from this first midterm experience, I know now that after each lecture is over I should just do the assigned reading and all the notes as we cover each topic rather than saving them for the week before the midterm. You can always reread the textbook the week before midterm but reading the textbook as the lectures occur help engrain the content in your brain.

2. Writing everything out

I found it very helpful to write out when each exam was and all the topics that would be on the exam. This helped me make a study plan more easily.

3. Knowing people in your class

When I first came to college, I didn't go out of my way to talk to people in my lectures. However, this exam season I learned it is very nice to have the contact information of some people in all lectures because while studying if you ever run into a problem it is easier to first ask your peers than to wait for office hours.

4. Going to office hours

Although you can ask your peers and google answers to conceptual questions, I also wish I went to office hours more. Sometimes during office hours, the professor will give you more information about what may be on the exam and other times it is nice to go because listening to other people's questions may also help you understand your content better.

5. How to study

Before coming to college I read at so many places that high school methods won't work in college. I never believed it until now. In high school, everyone just used to memorize everything before the test. However, in college, you actually have to know the material and know how to apply it.

Hope these are helpful, good luck!

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