During the summer before my senior year of high school, my friends and I spent hours romanticizing about all the excitement and change that would come during our first year of college. Little did we know that although college is full of new experiences and personal growth, it can come with some pretty difficult challenges.
Growing up, I was used to moving around a lot, as I spent half my life on a completely different continent. When it came to choosing colleges to apply to, the idea of going somewhere far away from home didn't seem like such a big deal. I had become pretty independent, or at least I thought I was. But when I actually came to college, I realized that living on my own was not all unicorns and rainbows.
Before I embarked on my college journey, I wish I knew that living far away from my family would be hard. Not seeing my mom and dad every day, and more importantly, my dog, resulted in endless daily FaceTime calls. Not gonna lie, I shed quite a few tears from missing my pupper. Although being 13 hours away from my family and friends was an adjustment, it forced me to become truly independent. I didn't know anyone when I came to college and quickly had to learn to take care of myself. Taking care of myself meant doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, and most importantly, becoming used to the idea of being lonely.
College taught me that true independence often goes hand in hand with being comfortable in your loneliness. Loneliness is not always a bad thing, although it can often seem that way. Going to a big state school means that most people I met knew at least someone from their high school, and I felt deserted and left out. For the first few weeks, I spent a lot of time by myself. I wish I would have known that being by yourself is actually rewarding, and teaches you a lot about self-love and self-reflection. However, I also wish I knew that loneliness doesn't last forever. I had only been at college for two weeks, and the feelings of missing my friends and family felt pretty overwhelming. Needless to say, I was ready to drop out before classes had even started.
Looking back at it, I wish I would have been more patient. In the beginning, I often found myself comparing my college experience to that of my friends. I scrutinized myself for not having as many friends, and for not loving college as much as they seemed to. Everyone's college experience is different, and I wish I would have been kinder to myself. I also wish I would have been more positive. Things may seem tough at the moment, but taking a step back and separating myself from the situation has taught me that things are often better than they seem. Even if you don't end up loving your college experience as much as you thought you would remember to appreciate your situation. Not everyone has the ability to go to college, so even if you feel like you're not living up to the college hype, try to stay humble.
Reflecting on what I learned from my first semester at college has made me extremely grateful. Not only have I experienced immense personal growth, but I have also made some memories that I will cherish forever. I have learned that spending time with my close friends, embarking on new experiences, and being kind to myself is most important. I also learned that after I stopped comparing my college rollercoaster to everyone else's, I started to actually enjoy the ride!