College is both a scary and exhilarating time for many students. However, it’s an experience of a lifetime that can truly change you forever. Here are just a few of the ways that this new chapter of your life affects you.

You discover that there are more important things than yourself.

In a place where you’re surrounded by humanity, you see other people struggling. You see other people who may seem fine on the surface, but underneath have family and personal issues just like you. Tons of college students have anxiety and try to deal with it everyday, but nobody talks about it. You talk to your family members back home, and there is something about the distance that makes you really care about what is going on in their lives. In class, you learn new things that make you look at the world in a new light. You learn about people from every walk of life, countries where things are different, and ideas that are bigger than anything you could’ve ever imagined. College opens you up and makes you see things bigger than yourself.

You realize that you are truly an adult now.

Sure, when you turned eighteen you were officially an adult, but there is something about living on your own that makes you feel like a real adult. Your parents aren’t around to help you decide things and you have to learn to make your own choices. This also means being prepared to accept the outcome of the choices, no matter how bad it may be. No one is there when you sleep in too late to wake you up. No one is there to remind you of anything important. You are reliant on yourself and if something goes wrong, it’s on you, and only you. College gives you freedom that can be both liberating, and scary.

You miss childhood and realize that your family won’t ever be the same.

Things happen during your time spent away from home: your little brother grows closer to your mom, your family does things without you, and traditions once cherished are now altered by this huge shift in your life. People have major milestones while you’re not around. You’re not there to see your brother get his learner’s permit or you miss your grandma visiting because you’re busy that weekend. Also, major life roadblocks happen. People or pets that are close to you may pass away. To deal with life changes in a totally different place takes an insane amount courage and strength. College teaches you how to cope with the combination of life changes and distance.

You learn a lot about yourself.

Spending time alone happens a lot in college and it is the time when you learn most about yourself and who you truly are. You may have never known that you liked certain things or had a certain attitude towards people. You may learn that you’re more introverted or extroverted than you thought you were. In college, there is constant interaction between people. These interactions make you realize the way you communicate or lead. It can be both interesting and scary to dive deep into yourself to discover who you really are as an individual. College provides the opportunities for you to uncover the person that you have been all along.