10 Things I Learned Freshman Year

10 Things I Learned Freshman Year

Naturally, after living on your own for the first time in your life, you learn some things.
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As expected, being on your own for the first time means you will naturally learn some things. As for me, I was enlightened on the ways of college life as well as on ways of life in general, such as budgeting. All in all, your first year away from home is a major growth period, and you need to embrace it.

1. The Freshman Fifteen is Very Easy To Avoid.

It's one of the first warnings you receive when going off to college: "beware of that freshman fifteen, those midnight pizzas will catch up to you." Granted, if you eat pizza 3+ nights a week, this might apply to you. However, if you occasionally order Dominoes after a night out (as my roommate and I do) you are not going to gain weight. The key is to keep a healthy, balanced diet and make it to the gym regularly.

2. The Parking Rumors are True

Chances are you will not find a parking spot anywhere near where you need to be. You will most likely have to park at least a mile from your destination. But hey, this will just help you keep off that freshman fifteen. That being said, I have loved having my car here and definitely recommend bringing your car freshman year if you are allowed.

3. Dorm Life is Unique And a Part of the College Experience

Yes, it is an adjustment sharing a 12x13 cubicle with another person, but it's a part of the college experience. That being said, don't pass up the opportunity to spend a year in a dorm! While the rules kind of suck and you lowkey feel like you are still being watched over by parents, you definitely still have fun. You just have to be smart about it. Plus, you are usually within walking distance to all the bars, so you'll save money on Ubers.

4. Living On Campus is Amazing

I get to wake up thirty minutes before my classes start and still make it fifteen minutes early. Next year I will be in an apartment off-campus, and while I am extremely excited, I will miss being able to roll out of bed and walk straight to class.

5. People Don't Give a Flip About What You Wear

You would be surprised how much people do not notice. Because honestly, they do not care. Most people have better things to worry about than whether or not you decided to wear minion slippers to class. I have seen people roaming campus in a chicken suit, pajama onesies, and hamburger shoes, and nobody cares. College is truly a place to do and wear whatever the hell you want because people truly don't care.

6. Being on a Budget Makes You Grow Up

This may not apply to everyone, but college is the first time I've really had to think about money. While it was a huge adjustment, it really has made me grow up. I now pay for my own groceries, gas, medications, school supplies, etc. I have to think twice now about going out to dinner, buying that cute shirt, and whether or not to see that movie.

7. You Don't Always Have to look Picture-Perfect

I wore makeup every day from 7th grade up to the first day of classes last Fall. Now I only wear it when I am going out or have a special occasion, and it has benefitted me in more ways than one. First of all, it significantly increased my self-confidence. I used to be horrified that people would see me without makeup, but now I know I look good with and without it, so it doesn't bother me. Second, I am saving so much time and money.

8. Making Your Own Decisions is Liberating

You decide what you do, when you do it, what classes you take, what major you declare, what people you hang out with, and it is amazing. In high school, you are surrounded by rules and regulations by both your parents and school administration. That is a thing of the past in college and it is extraordinary.

9. Missing Home is Okay and Normal

I rushed Fall semester so making it home was difficult as I always had things to do on the weekends. Further, it was football season so I didn't want to miss out on the fun that was going down at school. I did miss home, and that was perfectly fine. Everybody gets homesick at times, and it's nothing to feel embarrassed about.

10. These Are Going to be Four Amazing, Memorable Years

Everyone pretty much already knows this, but I had to include it. College is such a unique time, as I have the freedom to do whatever I want (within reason) but yet I still have the financial support of my parents. Furthermore, I am finally studying what I want to study and not what I am told I have to study, and that just makes the whole experience even better.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-coffee-meeting-team-7096/

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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