A Letter To My Freshman Self

A Letter To My Freshman Self

All the things I wish I knew when I started college.
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Dear Alanna,

Hey there, kiddo. This is you from the future. I know you’re so stubborn that you probably won’t listen to your 23-year-old self, but just hear me out, okay?

You’re about to start college! Yay! Congratulations! I know you’re really scared and excited which causes you many bouts of nausea, but don’t worry. Once you start walking those halls you’ll realize you have nothing to fear except midterms. (Also the smell of classrooms after a class full of boys leaves, but just sit near the door and avoid the engineering lab at all costs.)

Your life is about to change in a big way so here’s some advice from the person who knows you best (other than your therapist, but we’ll get to that later):

1. You’re taking too many credits.

I know you’re a perfectionist and feel like you can take over the world (which you totally can), but you’re just starting out so you need to let yourself relax and enjoy your freshman year as much as possible. Some kids can take 18.5 credits while working, being involved and having a social life, but this isn’t high school and you’re going to wear yourself out if you don’t slow down. Drop down to at least 15 credits and enjoy this time.

2. Live on campus this year.

You’ve never been keen on sharing spaces with people you don’t know, but college is not like summer camp so quit the superior I’m-an-adult-and-too-cool-for-the-dorms” attitude or you’re going to really regret it. You think freedom and happiness is living with your high school sweetheart in an apartment off-campus, but spoiler alert: you won’t be with him by Halloween of your sophomore year and since he’s not going to college, it’s going to be impossible to indulge in the whole “college experience” while everyone else in your classes are making friends and having fun in the dorms. I’m not even going to start about how you should’ve listened to literally everyone in the world when they told you not to bring your high school boyfriend to college because frankly, you’re being a total jerk at this age and you probably wouldn’t listen to me if I hopped in a time machine and smacked you in the face. (P.S. That technology doesn’t exist yet, so it’s still just an expression. Don’t get all excited about heading back to see Woodstock or whatever.)

3. Join every campus club/activity you possibly can.

I know you’re in THON but so is everybody else at school and your campus has so much more to offer. Even though you think you’re not a “joiner” type person right now, you absolutely are. Not only are these things going to look great on your resume, but you’re gonna make a load of friends and eventually settle into a group of people who share your interests. Once again, you’re not too cool to participate. You’re not even cool enough to have the confidence to wear dresses to class, so don’t even try to defend yourself.

4. Go around and meet every professor in the department of your major.

I realize you’re very shy at this time and you don’t think important teachers have the time or concern for a freshman, but you’re wrong. They do care (at least most of them do), and you’ll be really glad you started building relationships with these people so soon. They’ll be impressed by your go-getter attitude and you’ll eventually be in most of their courses which will make life easier because they’ll already know you when you come into their classrooms. There’s so much you don’t know about your major and meeting with them will give you many opportunities you wouldn’t have known otherwise. (Also, your undergrad advisor has no idea what the hell she’s doing and I honestly think she drinks at work.)

5. Publish your damn paper.

You have no idea what I mean, but you’re going to soon, and when the opportunity comes, don’t blow it off because the academic journal requires at least 15 pages and you “don’t feel like it.” That’s stupid. Stop being so stupid.

6. Start dating other people.

I know I said I wouldn’t get into this, but you really dropped the ball here. You think you’re so in love with your high school boyfriend and you are, but everyone is right about him and you’re making a huge mistake. I’m not saying you should run around school slutting it up, but you’ve never even gone on a date with anyone else and you should experience that. Honestly, you shouldn’t really be in such a serious relationship in your freshman year. You should be socializing with other guys but also focusing more on your academics than your boyfriend. I’m not going to tell you the details, but he gets you in trouble and he continues to be a burden on you even four whole years after you break up. Taylor Swift will come out with a song soon called “I Knew You Were Trouble” and you’ll listen to this over and over, kicking yourself because you knew he was in trouble. Seriously, stupid, stupid girl.

7. Finally, don’t let the stress overwhelm you.

Look, I know things seem crazy right now and as your first year of college presses on, you feel like you’re slipping at times and like everything is piling up. You feel overwhelmed and think you can’t handle everything you have to do (all of which, if you listen to the aforementioned advice, wouldn’t be such an enormous list), but you’re still learning your way around this new world and things aren’t as bad as they seem. You’re too proud to ask for help so you allow yourself to drown in all your responsibilities. It’s fine, you’re only human, but you need to know that no matter how much stress you’re under and no matter how bad things seem, you are strong and wonderful. Your hard work is not in vain and you are not hopeless. Your life is precious, you are worthwhile and you need to remind yourself this. You need to remember what all the hard work is for. Remember your purpose and the dreams you have and understand that everything is going to be okay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you start feeling beleaguered by life, reach out to your friends and family and even your professors. They all will come to your aid and help pick up the slack. You’ll be happier too because in addition to your lighter load, you’ll remember the gigantic support system around you and you’ll be grateful for all the people in your life who love you and just want to see you succeed.

Well, that’s all I’ll tell you for now. I wish I could get this letter to you in time, but you’ll have to experience all your mistakes because like I said, time travel doesn’t exist yet.

That sucks, right? Like, they’ve managed to make cell phones and computers that use your fingerprints instead of passwords and cars that drive themselves, but somehow time travel isn’t possible? So many useless things happen in the next few years of your life, and you’ll love most of it but it’s all pretty useless.

So even though you won’t read this, hopefully other kids entering college will and be helped by the advice. You’ll continue to learn and impart your knowledge upon anyone who will listen, but one thing I’ll say is that college is going to be amazing and worth every minute. You have a pretty great life at 23 and despite the occasional lows (many of which can be blamed on your new car), life continues to get better. Enjoy every moment, kiddo. You’re in for one helluva ride.

Sincerely,

Future You

P.S. Pop culture gets really hilarious in the coming years. You think Kanye can’t possibly get any crazier, but oh my, you are in for quite a treat.

Cover Image Credit: You Visit Penn State Harrisburg Virtual Tour

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6 Things I Didn't Really Need in My Freshman Dorm, And 6 Things I Wish I Brought Instead

I promise you, being Pinterest-worthy just doesn't make sense in a dorm.
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As I packed up my dorm room and unpacked it all once I got home, I kinda felt stupid. I moved in with 2 cars full of stuff (yes, I know how extra that sounds and yes, it was indeed that extra) and I didn't end up needing half of it. Now, I'm swimming in stuff I need to get rid of while holding on to the stuff I didn't realize I would need and ended up buying mid-year. No matter how much you think you know everything, first-time dorm residents, please listen.

6 things I DIDN'T need but swore I did

1. All my personal books

I mean, I'm an English major and I love to read, but no one, and I mean no one, A) has free time and B) uses that free time to read in college.

2. Keurig

There's a coffee shop I can use my cafe credits at on my way to class. I never woke up early enough to brew my own coffee, and I never craved it bad enough in the afternoon to feel like I needed to make my own immediately. It was nice to make tea with though.

3. Dishes and Silverware/Excessive Mugs

All you need is 1 mug and a couple of water bottles. I promise you paper plates and plastic silverware are all you need.

4. An overabundance of office supplies

I didn't use all those fancy office supplies in high school, so as much as I love them, I have yet to reach for them in college.

5. T.V.

The T.V. I had was only slightly bigger than my laptop screen and the wifi at my dorm wasn't good enough for streaming. I hardly used it, but I know others used theirs a lot. Just a personal preference!

6. Tons of wall art

I totally believe wall art has the power to make a dorm room feel less institutional, but I wish I had brought more pictures from home to make my room personal. Pinterest dorm rooms just aren't real, and they aren't what you want when you're homesick.

6 things I wish I had bought before school started

1. ID Lanyard

I personally love these ones from Vera Bradley , but honestly, any way you can carry your ID, money, and keys all in one is a life changer.

2. Earplugs/Eye Mask

Dorms are loud even during quiet hours and sometimes your roommate stays up later or gets up earlier than you do. Amazon couldn't ship these to me fast enough.

3. Wireless Headphones/Earbuds

Personally, I'm an earbuds girl, but either one does the trick. It's nice to not have to deal with cords and to be able to connect to any of your devices without an adapter.

4. Laptop Shell/Stickers

Almost everyone ends up ordering stickers to put on their laptop to express themselves to those around them. On a practical level though, you're probably going to have the same laptop as 5+ other students in your lecture and you will probably throw your laptop in a bag and run at some point. A shell and some stickers will provide more protection than you realize. Check out http://www.redbubble.com for some great options.

5. Small vacuum

This is especially important if you get a rug. Sweeping is not pleasant, and the vacuums at your dorm are probably older than you are.

6. Pictures from home

Like I said before, wall art isn't going to comfort you when you want to go home. A picture of your dog or best friend sure will though.


Cover Image Credit: Lauren Gherna

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.

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If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become.

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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