50 Things I Learned My Freshman Year Of College

50 Things I Learned My Freshman Year Of College

Popcorn sets off the fire alarm.

With finals and move-out just around the corner, my freshman year of college is almost at its end. Being out of state, I was immediately thrown into an environment with minimal knowledge of what the next months would entail. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

However, there are some things that I wish I would've known going in. In the long run, I learned which made for some interesting times this year as well as some good memories. R.I.P freshman year of college, you were an interesting one.

1. You're here for school.

2. School is hard.

3. Dining Hall food gets old fast.

4. You'll make a lot of meals in your dorm.

5. Showering and eating are harder in college.

6. So is working out.

7. Walking to class is an excuse not to go to the rec.

8. You'll learn a little too much about your roommate.

9. You will officially take advantage of naps.

10. You will probably become incredibly stressed out.

11. You will always thank yourself for buying snacks.

12. The Freshman 15 is real but avoidable.

13. College isn't what you see on social media.

14. You will miss your Mom.

15. And your friends.

16. And probably your pets and your bed.

17. You will re-wear outfits instead of washing quite frequently.

18. You will get homesick.

19. Don't take an 8 AM.

20. Don't take a night class.

21. Professors aren't always understanding.

22. You'll meet a ridiculous amount of people.

35. Free printing? Yes, please.


37. You will not have as much alone time.

38. Find a routine, and stick to it.

39. Call your family frequently.

40. Take advantage of your time at home.

41. Don't pack that many T-Shirts.

42. You'll get a lot of free stuff (i.e. T-Shirts).

43. Don't pass up on an opportunity.

44. Make conversation in the elevator.

45. Treat Yo Self.


47. Study, but remember to sleep.

48. You'll Watch A Ridiculous Amount Of Netflix.

49. Popcorn will set off the fire alarm.

50. Getting out of your comfort zone is worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Amundson

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.


My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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I Owe All My Success To My 'Tiger Mom'

Your greatest failures can become your biggest blessings, and these blessings make up your success.


The term "Tiger Mom" has been widely popularized since the publication of 2011 memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by the queen of them all, Amy Chua. According to Chua, it's a traditional East Asian style of parenting using strict rules, discipline and tough love to raise children succeed academically and intellectually. To visually paint a picture, it's when a very proud and legacy driven mother wants to raise the most intelligent, athletic, musically gifted child and will take deep measures to do so, through education, tutors and top of the art piano lessons.

My mom is what you would call a "Tiger Mom". I was raised alongside my brother in a suburban Caucasian-dominated town in Connecticut, living in a modest sized house and educated in a great public school system taught by mindful teachers. We were secluded from all harmful unfamiliarity of the outside world, while raised embracing our traditional Korean roots. Korean was the only language that we spoke in the house, and I was encouraged to practice reading and writing the characters. I attended Catholic Church weekly, followed by Sunday school where I was taught the value of prayer, constant seeking forgiveness of my sins and various lessons of the Bible.

I was blessed with amazing opportunities, but was also held down from the freedom and independence that many teenagers my age reveled in.

Many "Tiger Moms" have their set of principles and list of strict rules, and my mom was no different. She authoritatively enforced rules including:

  1. Any sleepovers, parties, drinking of alcohol are STRICTLY off limits
  2. No swearing, or offensive language in the house (or anywhere, really)
  3. Dating or meeting with anyone from the opposite sex is forbidden
  4. Bad grades will not be tolerated
  5. No wearing makeup until college
  6. 6 p.m. curfew if you decide to hang out after school
  7. Adding onto Rule #6 write down on a piece of paper the list of people you are hanging out with, at who's house (address) and their home phone number.

Given the circumstances I was in, I became very rebellious.

Despite the number of tutors, tedious math lessons and pile of study books on my desk, I failed to became that epitome of a perfectly well mannered, musically talented, math prodigal young woman. I secretly put on my mom's mascara when she was downstairs packing my lunch. I constantly received bad grades throughout high school and slacked off in class. I snuck out from "studying in the library" to run around with my friends and instinctively lied about my whereabouts.

Yet, my mom kept driving me around in her Toyota minivan to swim class and piano lessons. Peeking through the window of the rehearsal room before my flute recital. Pulling the covers over my shoulders in the middle of the night and stuffing an umbrella in my backpack in case it rained on my way home from the bus stop. Her desire to shape me into someone talented and successful was resilient and she saw something in me that never made her give up. She saw beauty in my flaws and helped me turn these failures into a success.

To reach this euphoric success, she set big goals and put pressure on me to reach them. Yet, she proved that these goals are attainable. Now, as a grown up independent adult, I realize the affect she had on my life.

It was possible to attend the number one U.S. public university, even though it took me three years after high school to get my shit together.

I undoubtedly suck at math and science, but consequently discovered my passion for writing and can now pursue my career with a job I would enjoy waking up to every morning.

I'm not musically gifted, but I eventually found respect for classical music and can proudly share my extensive knowledge of Bach's Harpischord Concerto No.1 in D Minor.

As much as I hated being forced to read and write Korean, I'm now fully bilingual which allows me to interact with the dominant Korean community here in LA and also help me communicate with my grandparents in Korea, who enjoy FaceTiming and sending me messages through KakaoTalk.

Your greatest failures can become your biggest blessings, and these blessings make up your success.

Mom, I owe all my success to you.

All the tears, frustration and tantrums made it worth it.

Thank you.

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