I’ve always heard people say that “college changes you,” but I never realized how true that statement was until I experienced it myself. You really learn a lot when your life takes a completely new turn and your parents drop you off and leave you at a campus all by yourself. You’re on your own for the first time in your life, and have to face the harsh world alone.

In the nine months at my first year at school, I’ve never learned more in my entire life. I made many mistakes. I made and lost friends. I experienced some love and some heartbreak. I’ve come closer to achieving my goals and becoming the person I want to be. And I have really grown and matured as a person. It blows my mind that I’m completely different than the person I was just a year ago, when I was finishing up my senior year of high school.

College teaches you many lessons and prepares you for the real world. It makes you deal with hardship on your own and become stronger than you’ve ever been. After leaving home, you will never be the same, but in a good way — it’s all part of growing up.