The First Semester Of College Is Always The Hardest

The First Semester Of College Is Always The Hardest

If I can get through my rough patch, so can you.
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Do not let anyone fool you that they had an "amazing first year" at college. All of us experience highs and lows, but as a society, we have a tendency to only focus on the good. We don't want to acknowledge the bad and show weakness, but we all experience low periods of our lives. What really is the deciding factor is how we handle these situations.

Temple University is my home away from home, and it took until the middle of my second semester to realize that. I mean, I literally cried when my mom and I were driving back to Pittsburgh just because I knew how much I would miss college. If you would have asked me how I was feeling at the end of my first semester, I probably wouldn't have had the same reaction.

For me, I struggled the most with being homesick and trying to maintain friendships I thought were meaningful. Moving so far away from home and attending a big school where nobody I knew went, I felt like I made a bad decision.

It also didn't help I had people in life that were telling me I made a bad decision by moving to North Philadelphia. It messed with me so much I really didn't embrace my college at first.

I went to the Tech Center so much just because it was a room filled with other people. My roommate and I didn't get along, so it wasn't like I had someone to vent to about the social challenges I was facing. I had a few friends that I hung out with, but I felt like I was missing out. I didn't really party my first semester just because I didn't want to be the girl who came by herself. It felt kind of pathetic to me.

With today's technology, it should have been easy to keep in contact with old classmates and friends. I could have FaceTimed with my friends, looked on Facebook and Snapchat for updates on their lives, and liked their pictures on Instagram just to stay in the loop. I tried, believe me.

In reality, it didn't work that way. I felt like I was missing out and just missed home. I was somewhere new with no one really to help me adjust. It sucked hearing about all the memories my "friends" were creating with classmates who went to the same school and staying in contact with everyone. I wanted to come home. They were achieving amazing things while I was having problems landing positions.

I had people back home who talked down on my achievements. From the moment I announced I was going to Temple, I was warned left and right about how dangerous North Philly was (spoiler: it's not that bad). I also was advised I would end up moving back home after my first year. I came from a very negative hometown that never has supported anyone or anything that is different. I was letting their doubts fill my mind

Starting in mid October, I felt very depressed. I've always struggled with my mental health, but it felt like I had hit an all time low. I called my mom crying a lot. I tried going to my school's counseling services, but they believed I wasn't adjusting because of my sexuality and referred me to numerous LGBTQ+ groups on campus and therapy programs.

That wasn't the problem. I just felt alone. It wasn't because I was uncomfortable with myself. I just didn't feel like I belonged on campus. I felt like coming to Temple was too big over my head.

All of the emotions I was feeling got so bad that I impulsively submitted a transfer application to the University of Pittsburgh. I filled out all the forms, paid all the fees, and submitted my transcript from Temple. I just wanted to be somewhere I was familiar with and knew I would be okay. My whole childhood, I grew up near the University of Pittsburgh so it felt like it was becoming my best option.

I was so wrong. My mother told me I wasn't allowed to transfer anywhere until the end of my freshman year, if that was what I really wanted. However, she made me promise to continue to pursue every opportunity I can and give Temple my 100%.

Maybe it is a bit overdramatic, but joining a sorority saved my life. After my breakdown and a long conversation with my parents, I decided to go out for formal recruitment. I would at least find something to do on campus and a reason to stay. I mean, I fell in love with Temple the first time I came here, so there had to be something that could make me stay.

Now I have a group of friends that encourage me to be the best version of myself. I have sisters I can turn towards in moments of crisis. I have a big who is literally like the big sister I've never had. I began to feel at home.

So for anyone who is a bit nervous about their first semester of college, it will be rough. You will have moments where you will doubt if you made the right decision. However, you cannot let the days that are bad take over the bigger picture. Everyone has bad days, but it is really all about how we handle these days.

In all honesty, if I had just sat back and relaxed rather than letting my anxiety take over, I probably wouldn't have considered transferring or allowing people's doubts to control my mindset. Temple University is my home away from home, and it took until the middle of my second semester to realize that.

If I can get through my rough patch, so can you. Go ahead and embrace all that your freshman year has to offer, even the bad times. It's all worth it in the end, I promise.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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