It's been 120 days since I moved nearly five hours away from home and into my dream school, Syracuse University. My family's car was filled to the brim with my dorm essentials as we drove, with a "Go Orange!" sticker on the back. The strenuous packing and other preparations were finally coming together as I got ready to begin the next four years of my life. Now, at the end of my first semester, I've come to a few conclusions about my first four months.
Just like every new student, I faced a period of adjustment to my academics, campus, and daily life. During the first two weeks, I relied heavily on Google Maps and random upperclassmen to find my way to classes and making friends definitely felt a little awkward. I was overwhelmed with the amount of "firsts" I faced: first time living away from home, first time sharing a room, first impressions with everyone I met, first time going to a frat party.
No matter which "firsts" you experience during your first semester, you may feel completely lost early on, and that is completely okay.
After the first initial awkwardness, I instantly clicked with my roommate and several people in both my dorm and around campus. As the faces around me became more familiar, I felt more grounded and less lost in a large university. The bonds in my friend group strengthened as we saw each other at our highs and lows; we were always there to cheer each other on through every bad test grade or stressful day. Even when I was super homesick and missed everything from my family and hometown friends to my own bed, having fun with them helped me take my mind off of it. I grew to find that having positive people around you in college will bring positivity into your life.
Finding people you really click with makes the transition to college life that much easier, especially if you knew no one else on campus going in.
I also struggled with adjusting academically at the beginning of the semester. Even though I came from a magnet high school with extremely high expectations, nothing prepared me for the 17 credit workload. Syracuse challenged me beyond belief. The feeling was common among many of my peers, and I then understood that no matter your background, college coursework is a whole different beast. Readings and assignments felt endless, and that's when I realized I had to revamp the time management skills I'd accumulated in high school. My planner became my lifeline and I began to regularly plan out my schedule to keep track of my things to do.
While "work hard" is always part of my personal motto, "play hard" is the other half, and because I'm a student at arguably one of the biggest party schools in the country, I fell in love with the social scene. Fall football games mean cute tailgate outfits, Instagram posts with witty captions, huge darties, and screaming "Let's go, Orange!" at the top of our lungs in the Carrier Dome. Nights out entail putting together fashionable outfits, blasting music while getting ready, and having fun with your friends all night. Syracuse's nightlife gave me many first semester memories that will make me smile for years to come.
Overall, my first semester as a Syracuse freshman taught me many valuable lessons: always stay positive, balance work and fun, and remain true to yourself. No matter which challenges were thrown my way, whether stress from my schoolwork or an issue back home in New Jersey, I persevered. My strength as a student and person was tested at times, but there's nothing that I look forward to more than seven more semesters in the wintery, frozen tundra of Syracuse.