7 Lessons I've Learned From A Week In My Dorm

7 Lessons I've Learned From A Week In My Dorm

I've gone to Target two separate times and still probably need to go again.

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As many of you know, college move-in season is in full swing by now. The last of the local fairs are wrapping up, the humidity is finally starting to become tolerable, and the panic of parents doing last minute back to school shopping in Office Depot is a daily sight. I moved two hours away from home for the first time this year, and it's only been a week but it already feels like it's been so much longer. So, here's what insight I can provide on the first week as a college freshman

1. It's okay to cry.

little women la crying GIF by Lifetime

We hadn't even been in the room for 15 minutes before I started tearing up because I was just so frustrated with everything in my room. The lofts weren't the height we had requested, we had no space to put our school provided fridge and microwave, and honestly, I was just so overwhelmed by the newness of everything that I needed to get it out of my system.

2. College beds really aren't that bad.

tired bed GIF

Maybe this is just me, but I only have a thin mattress topper for my bed and I haven't slept significantly worse here than I did at home. I came in worrying I wouldn't be able to sleep well, and maybe it's just the exhaustion from band camp but I've slept fine for the first week here.

3. Dining halls sound cooler than they are.

parks and rec college food GIF

When we all go on college visits the promise of buffet-style dining halls seems like an awesome thing, but when only one place is open for the first several days on campus, you get tired of eating the same style food. Also, waiting 15 minutes in line just to get a grilled cheese sandwich is kind of ridiculous, but it's not like I have a kitchen anymore to just make one myself.

4. Organizing and unpacking take a ridiculous amount of time.

My mom and I did take a few breaks (and a trip to Target) but in total, we probably spent about five hours after getting all my stuff moved up in my room and somewhat hastily assembled before she had to leave. Even after that, I spent a ton of time reorganizing and decorating my room and frankly I still have more I want to do. That being said, personalizing your room is a great way to help you feel more at home! Even if it's just a plant or some photos of your friends, having little pieces of home definitely help make the sardine can of a room feel a little bigger.

5. Command hooks will become your best friend.

dorm messy room GIF by GoPop

I think we have no less than four different types of command hooks hanging in our room right now, and that's without half our room even here. When you're held responsible for any damage to the walls, the convenience and simplicity of command hooks just get me every time.

6. Having a roommate is a little weird, but also the best.

bored matthew perry GIF by Nick At Nite

I've essentially been an only child for the past few years and because of it, I've grown used to having a lot of space and privacy. I know it's only been a week (and with only one out of three roommates here), but so far I've really enjoyed having a roommate. It sucks to not have more space, but we've already made so many memories within a week and I can't wait to make more once the actual semester starts.

7. The first night is the worst.

sad andre johnson GIF

After I walked my mom to her car and said goodbye, I pretty much just cried on the walk home. Living away from home can be scary, but it's part of growing up and you learn so much about yourself as an individual because of it. Like I said before, it's only been a week but it feels like it's been so much longer. Spending a week at school has made me remember why I chose to attend UC, and how excited I am to start the next chapter of my life.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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