1. Dining hall desserts.
Ah yes, the showstopper of our dining halls, the main culprit of the beloved Freshman 15. I cannot tell you how many cookies I consumed my freshman year of college. (In all honesty, it was probably upwards of four per meal. I'm not proud, just being honest.) At first you don't even see it coming. You grab one on your way in as you walk past the counter, put one on your plate to eat with your meal, then take yet another one for the road. That is a lot of sugar for one day, and boy does it add up quickly! If you've never struggled with this, congrats, you have the will of an iron soldier. If you're like the rest of us, though, it's okay. You don't have to swear off sugar or make some crazy change to your diet. Just, like...remember that moderation is good. It's always easier said than done, and believe me when I say that I understand. If it's any help at all, though, just don't look them in the eyes. If you can't see the cookies, they can't see you.
2. Being too scared to work out in public.
In addition to the previous issue, the sheer anxiety-inducing number of people on campus and in our gym does not help when it comes to health. Especially if you're a newbie, exercising around other people can make you feel super vulnerable - it's not easy to sweat and struggle down the street in front of countless sorority houses or walk circles around confusing gym equipment in front of the offensively good-looking Ram Fam (Hey, UGA) - but it is worth it! Someone once told me that people who have accomplished more than you will never judge you for trying. And in reality, nobody in the gym or the road is ever really judging you. They're in their own world working on their well-being. When you see a runner, do you think "Man, she's really slow. Those shorts are ugly. She's dripping sweat, gross." Um, no? You think "Hmm. That girl is running. It's super hot outside and Athens is really hilly. Good for her." Confidence breeds more confidence, so get out there.
3. The freshman fling.
Ugh. We've all been through it, and it never turns out well. Coming into college, a lot of us have an idealized version of what our future will look like. We'll fall in love within the first month of school, have a whirlwind four years with that person, and graduate as a young entrepreneur with an impressive six-digit salary and a love story to match. Or something like that. Unfortunately, reality often falls short of expectations, and even though we know that, it doesn't make the inevitable heartbreak any less painful. In real life, the first person you date isn't always the person you marry. Especially freshman year, everybody seems to be on some freaky ish. Desperate for friendship, excited for romance, scared of commitment (@my homeboy...), first years create a recipe for social disaster. The best thing to do is embrace it, but don't give your heart to the first dude you run into with the expectation that the relationship will be your everything. Hear me when I say that boys are not the prize for which we run, ladies! There are better things out there.
4. "Studying" with friends.
If you're studying with friends, you're not really studying, and that's that. Go ahead and count that as free-time, because nothing screams "pseudo-studying" quite like a room filled with five of your besties and too much Chick-fil-A.
5. Fearing the bus.
Say it with me: the bus is my friend. It's terrifying, I know. Learning the routes, taking the wrong bus, feeling like you're being swallowed alive by the crowd, falling into your first stranger's lap… It's a rite of passage, really. But it's better to face the fear early on and become confident with the system than to spend your entire first semester walking a mile to and from class three times a week. Trust me on this one.
6. Believing sleep is for the weak.
Sleep is not for the weak, sleep is for those who wish to get through the week. Enough said.
7. Never going home.
After 18 years at your house, you may feel like you never want to go back. Athens is an exciting place to be, and it's easy to feel high on your new sense of freedom. You're completely in control of yourself and your schedule, and going home sometimes means compromising that control, which is not easy. But you still need to do it. It probably wasn't easy for your parents to send you off, and it's nice for them to see you. I'm not saying go home every weekend, I'm just recommending that you don't intentionally avoid home until you'd literally rather sell your soul than stay in your dorm room one more day. One-person bedrooms and full-sized, private bathrooms are such a nice way to end the week.
8. Not reading the book.
Teachers will typically tell you when the text is unimportant. Unless that is explicitly stated, however, I highly recommend reading the assigned chapters even if it feels useless. My first semester, I struggled so hard in American Government. I made B's on two out of three tests, and it wasn't until I finally devoted myself to the book that I pulled out a 96 on the very last exam. Perfect timing, right? It's definitely a time commitment, but it's absolutely worth it. Plus it makes you feel a little better about dropping $150 on a stack of paper.
9. Skipping class too early in the semester.
Most classes give you a certain number of "sick" days (I put quotations around the word because who actually uses them when they're sick?) that will not count against you. This comes in handy when you oversleep (refer to my article on the dreaded freshman year 8 am), if you have a planned vacation day, or if you genuinely do come down with some awful Creswell plague that knocks you out for three days straight. These days are limited, typically to two or three, and they are a glorious blessing when used correctly. The problem arises, however, when you waste them. Let me give an example: suppose...your friend... uses all of her skip days for Philosophy in September. Not because she needed to, simply because she didn't feel like pulling herself out of her bed and making the trek to Peabody two times a week. Come October, she realizes she has made a mistake. Two months left and she has no option but to attend from here on out or get docked for participation. Suddenly, in a freak accident type of way, she comes down with strep, an ear infection, and a sinus infection all at once. Boom. Out for two weeks. At the end of the semester, I… um, I mean, she… earned a 95 in the class but received an 89 because of participation and attendance. Guys. That is a letter grade difference. Just go to class. Yeah, not even because you want to, not even because you have to. Do it so you're not the girl who forever has a B+ in Introduction to Philosophy hanging over your head.