Greetings to all of the incoming freshmen preparing to start their college journey! As a kid fresh out of high school, it's completely natural for you to feel the need for a bit of guidance. After all, you're about to take a big step forward as an emerging adult.

Although I can't assure you of what lies in store for you, I can try my best to help you prepare to be on your own with what I've taken away from my first year of college. No matter where you're headed, these eleven lessons that every freshman learns may help you grasp an idea of what your experience may be like.


Don't pack heavy, pack smart.

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I remember arriving at my dorm room on move-in day and feeling embarrassed about how I'd grossly overestimated what I needed for college. Not only that, but I packed all the wrong things!

If you're planning on living on-campus or away from home, do yourself a favor and don't buy too much décor. If it makes you happy and isn't too much of a hassle, then you shouldn't worry too much about overpacking. However, come your second semester of college, you'll be kicking yourself when you're loading up carts with things you didn't use but once.

Consider the necessities first and foremost. Functionality is what's most important, so try and make a list of things you use every day at home and pack from there. Less is more.

Every feeling is temporary, and that includes homesickness.

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I remember that first night I fell asleep in my dorm room felt completely surreal. Waking up, too. It's the same feeling as when you wake up in a hotel room and don't remember where you are for a few seconds.

This may not be what you want to hear, but I woke up sick to my stomach for at least two weeks. It didn't feel like home, but I learned that life is what you make it. If you don't put yourself out there and at least try to forge a support system, you will not enjoy college.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I learned that the hard way. I want to spare you the struggle. As long as you're trying your best, feelings like homesickness are only passing clouds. The light disappears and you can't see as well for a bit, but with its passing, your vision clears.

Tending to your own responsibilities grants you a stronger sense of self.

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Something as simple as cleaning your suite or apartment, running errands on your own, or completing an important assignment can strengthen your sense of self. Perhaps at home, your parents provided much more assistance to you than you'll receive off at college.

Don't look at doing laundry or dishes as a hassle. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to become a more independent and responsible person than before, for we are infinitely growing as people throughout even the most drastic of life changes.

If you're not careful, you may start feeling a fear of missing out (FOMO).

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A word of advice: stay off social media as much as you can! Don't watch your friend's Snapchat story or scroll through your Facebook feed if it's only going to make you sad that you're missing out.

Truth is, those people you see smiling pictures of on your phone probably aren't having as great of a time as it appears to you. Social media is a full-time job, and too much of it can be toxic. Truth is...if it's been a long day and you'd rather recharge than go to an on-campus event with your friends, there's nothing wrong with that. When you're alone, own it. Be by yourself and don't give a second thought to what anyone else is doing at the moment.

No matter how put-together other people seem, everyone is feeling as lost as you are.

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Remember that everyone around you in the freshmen dorms is as clueless as you are and this isn't a Hollywood film. It's real life, and you should expect nothing more and nothing less. The fact that you're all newbies may help you to adjust and feel more at ease around your peers.

Some days, you'll forget why you enrolled in school in the first place, and other days you'll be completely sure of yourself. And you know what? You're not weird for that. It's normal, and it doesn't mean you should give up. Perseverance is key.

For most students, dating isn't a priority.

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Psych! Most people don't worry too much about seriously dating anyone during college. It's not impossible to maintain a long-term relationship during college, but it's not all that common from what I've witnessed so far. The majority of students don't actively seek out serious relationships during college.

If one comes along, you must ensure that you are prepared for the reality of strict time management with schoolwork, social events, and time for yourself as well as time to spend with the other person. A relationship is time-consuming, but you'll know if it's worth it based on how the other party treats you.

No one gives a shit what you do.

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That's right, in the adult world, people judge you less and less the older you are. You could wear pajamas around your campus throughout an entire weekday, and I'd be willing to bet that your peers and professors wouldn't give a single shit.

It's eye-opening and humbling to see how easily other people overlook you. Again, people don't care if you stay in and study every weekday, or stay out and party every weeknight. You can be invisible or all but so, which is the beauty of a larger campus.

The "freshman fifteen" is real.

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Not everyone gains the infamous "freshman fifteen," but I know I felt fairly surprised when I arrived home for the summer and weighed myself after two semesters of college. However, it's completely normal to gain a bit of weight during college, what with all the stress, sleep deprivation, and campus food.

Don't worry, though. As long as you make a habit of exercising a few times a week and eat relatively healthy, you'll still be in great shape. Easier said than done, but try and find a time that works for you to hit the gym, go for a run around campus, or even do at-home exercise videos if your schedule is packed.

You need to learn fiscal responsibility.

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Budget, budget, budget! As a college sophomore, I'd advise saving your money as best as you can, because college is, um...expensive. If you're prone to impulse purchases, that means you should stay away from Amazon and eBay unless you need something practical. Never go to the site without an item in mind, or you'll end up with fifteen things you don't need in your cart and three hours wasted browsing online.

I'd suggest having a max amount of money you can spend per week on certain expenses and then a max on spending money. Hold yourself to a set of rules and try not to slip up too much. For example, my roommate and I had a rule that we could eat out or order food...but only twice a month. And we stuck to that quite well.

Just make sure you know what your goals are. Using budgeting apps like Mint can help you to track your transactions and see how you're doing.

You'll make your weirdest and wildest memories with your college friends.

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Don't worry too much about leaving home, because you're going to have a blast as long as you put your all into it. If you're shy like me, try your best to be kind to everyone you meet and force yourself to go out to events to meet new people. You could meet life-long friends this way, and once you adjust to your college's atmosphere and settle in, you'll go on some crazy adventures with some even crazier people.

Self-care is a must.

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Whatever self-care means to you, do it as often as you can. Take care of your mind, body, and soul during the best and worst of times. College is an exciting time, but there's no way of avoiding the stress of it sometimes. All you can do is try to take the best care of yourself that you can. Whether it's pampering yourself, spending time alone, or being with your friends, do what you need to do to be the best version of you.

To those of you taking a stroll down memory lane, remember what you've learned. To those of you about to start your college journey, you can prepare yourself however you like, but no one person's experience is the same as the next. Just keep your head up and make this next chapter of your life a good one.