By now some of you have received the emails and the thick envelopes with "JMU" printed on the front in large purple and white letters. You've probably started plastering the purple and gold stickers on your car or fancy water bottles, you've probably purchased way too many expensive (but totally worth it) t-shirts and hoodies with "James Madison" adorning each one, and you've probably already made the cheesy, heartfelt Facebook and Instagram posts letting the world know that you are soon to be a student at the one and only James Madison University.
You are going to be a Duke in a few more months- and trust me, those months really do fly by.
With all the excitement that surrounds this new step in your life, I'm sure you also have a great deal of nervousness. If you don't know, you probably will later. When you think about college, you probably have certain expectations or preconceived ideas of what it will be like. I know I definitely did. I was ecstatic about finally packing up my things and moving into my dorm, but I also had my fair share of worries about what to expect. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have worried at all.
So, from one JMU freshman to a soon-to-be freshman, here are a few things you should know about your first year in college.
Campus Is Not As Big And Scary As It Seems
The school looks huge on a map. I remember coming for Orientation and wondering how the hell I was going to get around. The school is honestly not as massive as it seems; the buildings are a lot closer than you think and everything is fairly easy (most of the time) to walk to. If you're scared you'll never learn how to get to your classes or where certain buildings are — stop. Take a deep breath. You're going to be fine and you'll figure it out within a week or two.
Don't Be Fooled By The Food
The first week or two of school you're going to think the food is amazing! It's new and exciting, you're in a large dining hall with other students just like you, and there are so many options that you're not sure what to get! Trust me when I tell you that it will get boring fast. The more you eat it, the blander and more repetitive it gets. I've officially decided to cut out D-hall as often as I can. I recommend Bistro 1908 because the salads are bangin', Market 64 for coffee that is just too damn good, and the food truck for tacos.
The Friends You Make Here Are Truly Amazing
I was so nervous about meeting new people and making friends before I came to JMU. I have no doubt that you're probably just as nervous and worried as I was. Honestly, though, I was worried for nothing- the people you meet at James Madison are truly some of the kindest, funniest, and most wonderful people you can find. As long as you stay true to yourself and make an effort to meet others, it will not be hard at all for you to make friends. The people I've met over this past year I consider to be some of my best, closest friends. I love my girls, and I know that you will create a bond just like mine. This school really helps you find some truly incredible people, and I know you are going to find your own JMU family.
You're Probably Going To Change And That's OK
I say it all the time and I'll say it again: you are growing up! You are changing! There's nothing wrong with that. You're going to be exposed to a million new things and people, and that is going to have an effect on you. Maybe you'll find hidden passions you never knew you had, or make friends with people you never thought you'd like or fit in with. Maybe you'll find out you really like to workout or create things or party — college is a learning experience, it's a period of growth and maturation. While not all change is necessarily good, whatever you go through your freshman year is going to give you valuable life lessons. So don't worry about if you're changing or not, it's probably benefitting you somehow.
Sometimes It Gets Difficult, But You'll Be Fine
Some classes suck- you fail a test or miss an assignment and it can hurt, especially if you were a perfectionist like I was in high school. You need to understand that your study habits might change, you might drop a class or two, and you might not get straight A's. This doesn't make you stupid, it just means stuff's getting real. It's not just academics that will get rough; there's gonna be times where you fight more often with family or your significant other, you'll have a falling out with a new friend, you might have a really crappy going-out experience that puts a sour taste in your mouth every time you think about it, or you might be looking for love in all the wrong places. College is great, but it can get tough. It's not going to be easy, especially when you start to get stressed. Still, there's no need to panic! All those hardships won't last forever and they literally happen to everyone. So if you ever get upset with the way college life is going, know that you are not alone and it's that moment of stress or difficulty is fleeting.
But, all in all, get excited, dukes. This place is going to be your new home!