Most teenagers dream of the day they go off to college and rid their parents and supervision. This dream becomes a reality the minute your parents leave after dropping you off during welcome week. You have no rules or boundaries stopping you from having fun and doing whatever you want. For some, that means going to a party and staying out all night; for others, that means watching a movie and eating pounds of chocolate. Either way, there’s no restrictions or parental supervision.

Being a freshman and new to the whole college experience, I see these dreams become reality first hand, and I get to experience it in my own way (which will remain a secret for now). I’ve watched friends make mistakes and go past boundaries they should have set and I’ve watched others not take any risks and feel left out.

During all these different moments and realizations, I’ve realized many things; however, the one that sticks out the most is that college is the place where you become independent and thankful for the things you had or have now.

Living in a dorm room with a community bathroom and awful water pressure makes you thankful for the showers you had back home. For those who weren’t able to bring their car with them to college, you either are extremely grateful for that amazing friend that lets you borrow their car or you’ve found a new gratitude for public transportation. In that freshman seminar class, when you’re watching Dave Ramsey videos, and have to fill out a budget, you realize how much you may be costing someone and you’re not at all cheap; you realize how thankful you are for that person who is paying the bills. Being thankful for even the smallest things like someone letting you borrow a pencil because you forgot one on test day is what college is making us realize.

Most teenagers dream of the day they go off to college, but college is a well-needed reality check for those of which are dreaming of the independence. With independence comes a lot of realizations, and you will realize that the parents and supervision you were so eager to leave behind are the ones who deserve the “thank-you” the most.