Starting your first year of college is intimidating. Within one semester of living on the campus of the College of Charleston, I have had the most life lessons and growth that I have experienced in such a short amount of time.

I have always been fairly independent so moving away from home didn’t sound like it would be anything too arduous. On my first day of living on campus, I realized that being on my own came with a lot more than I thought. Though this was a challenge, I now feel more equipped to begin my transitions into adulthood.

The first semester of my freshman year I discovered the following:

1. Living is not cheap

I always had the luxury of coming home to food in my fridge, and availability of things like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. It was a pain in the ass to buy these things with my own money at first, but now I feel independent and self-sufficient because I learned to take care and provide for myself.

2. No one has it all figured out

The first month I spent in college was somewhat erratic. My sleep schedule was off, I had more assignments than I knew what to do with, I hadn’t exercised and I felt like my life was in scrambles. Everyone else in my class was in the same position I was. Realizing that I wasn’t supposed to have everything together gave me the freedom to mess up, make mistakes and struggle without feeling alone in it all.

3. College provided me the opportunity to advance my critical thinking

In the beginning of my courses, I felt like the coursework was about the same as high school. As I’ve begun this new second semester, I see now that I can take my professors’ words and instead of accepting them as facts, I have my own perspectives. College professors open up room for their student to speak. This provides personal growth in our ability to contemplate an idea and create our own views of it. Professors like to hear your input and open up the floor for discussion which has actually caused me to bridge the material into my other classes.

4. I make time for friendships

In college, you make time for the people that are important to you. The ones who prioritize you are the people you want to keep around. The friendships I have made in college are special in that I don’t have classes with all of my best friends or see them in the cafeteria every day.

You learn quickly who is really there for you, where some friendships from the beginning of the year don’t last, but that's okay. Meeting a new variety of people in college allowed me to become more openminded, and close to people who I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Due to this, I believe I have become a better friend, developing special bonds with the people that give me a community, a family away from home.

So college can be intimidating and a difficult initial adjustment. The college rumors are true.

However, I really wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I now feel confident than ever. Not only in my ability to decipher my own opinions but as well as the perceptions of people. These subtle but crucial adjustments allow me to thrive in a place where the opportunities are endless.