Well, this is it. The end. It feels like every year of my life has moved faster than the last, and this rings especially true in college. Although sometimes the days and weeks feel as though they’ll never end, time just as frequently passes so quickly that I struggle to keep up. In honor of the end of this year–– a year of transitions, growth, and increasing independence–– I’m going to list the top ten things I learned in my first year of college.
1. You will be homesick…but not as much as you expect.
I was so worried that, while here at Mount Holyoke, I would be overcome by the intense homesickness that plagued me throughout my childhood. While this was certainly true for the first week or two of school, the homesickness rapidly dissipated. I love my home and my family, but I have also found a way to hold space both for my childhood home, and my new (Mo)Home.
2. You won’t understand how you could ever wake up at 6:00 am.
This one is self-explanatory. I dread the weekday mornings when I wake up at 7:30 or 8:00 am–– yes, I’m pampered. I know!
3. You will find spaces around campus that become havens.
After a while, I begin seeing the same faces in certain library spots, certain corners of Blanchard, in certain areas of campus. These spaces become mini-homes. I know I have mine–– and sometimes, they’re much-needed.
4. You'll probably over-commit, and need to back out of a few things.
One issue with there being so much to do on campus, is the inevitable instance(s) of over-commitment. Wait, you mean I need to write an Odyssey article, edit some more, go to an org meeting, finish a paper, and work on a group proje
ct...and I've scheduled them all at the same time? Again?
5. Certain professors will change your life.
Meeting people whose academic lives are devoted to topics I find fascinating...that is a truly beautiful experience. I've had hours-long conversations with professors and advisors about everything under the sun, and I always feel amazing (and often intellectually overwhelmed) afterwards. They love to share their knowledge with you, so take advantage of every opportunity to learn!
The great thing about going to school with so many people with diverging interests and experiences is the ability to converse with them. I have learned just as much from long conversations with my peers as I do sitting in class or doing readings.
7. The workload is absolutely manageable...don't let assumptions scare you!
There is a false idea out there that the college workload is impossible to manage, and that you have to pull all-nighters to get it all done. This is patently untrue. Manage your time, get work done early when you can, and pay attention to the syllabus. I have never once had to pull an all-nighter...nor do I ever intend to!
8. Many of your college fears quickly dissipate after becoming an actual college student.
Change is scary and often uncomfortable, and this is especially the case when first going to college. I think I speak for every first year when I say, we were all nervous when we first stepped on campus in August. But an essential part of being in college is being able to push through the newness and associated stress, and realize all of the good aspects of your newfound independence: friends that become family, answering only to oneself, freedom to accomplish goals and make mistakes, the ability to learn anything you possibly want to.
I have to say: coming to Mount Holyoke has been the happiest change of my life, and I can't imagine studying anywhere else. Some days (especially in recent weeks, which have been the most intense of the year) I feel stressed and hopeless. But then I complete an essay I am proud of, I see the smiling faces of my friends, I work with an org I love being a part of; I again realize all that I have learned this year, and I am happy.