Hey There, Freshman, Welcome To College Life

Hey There, Freshman, Welcome To College Life

This letter is designed to inform you of the things they didn't teach you in your college prep class or in your orientation...

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Dear Freshman,

Hey there, what's up? It's your first year of college! That can be an exciting thing, but also a scary thing to think about. It's the first time you're going to be on your own. No one's going to be constantly reminding you about your homework or what you need to do.

Everything is now given to you in a packet that has all the dates of when to do things. From my personal experience, it will be difficult to hang out with or talk to your friends from high school because you're all busy and on different schedules. Once you start college, you're going to meet all different kinds of people. They are going to be people you didn't even know existed, with an array of different interests and thoughts. People will tell you their opinions and you'll either agree or disagree, but one for sure is that there's always something you'll have a similar opinion on, and the friendship will flourish from there!

The atmosphere of college is going to be different from what you're used to. There won't be bells or a certain lunch time given to you. The choice will be yours whether you want to go to class or want to eat. You'll see the consequences of your actions towards the end of your first semester.

Parties are going to be the "it" thing in college. People will talk about them and make a big fuss about it. But don't think everyone will want to go. You'll come across homebodies that would rather lay in their beds and not care to move all day. You'll stumble upon "Thirsty Thursdays." At first, you're going to feel like you have to be about that life, but soon enough, you'll get over it and see it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Overall, the most important thing to remember is to not lose yourself. It may not seem like you will, but you are going to at some point. But when that happens, it's important to not change for the worse, change for the better, because just like every other grown-up would say, it's important to change grades for good. You can't be anything or achieve anything if you aren't trying and being yourself.

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5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.
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If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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To The Advisor Who Told Me I'm Not A 'Math Person,' You're Wrong

Don't underestimate yourself, and don't let anyone else either.

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I bet you, the reader, at some point in your life has felt defeated by math. You probably sat in a math class and thought, "I have no idea what is going on." Or you probably have failed a math test and to this day do not understand how to solve the problems on that test. You probably have completed a problem, so confident that you got it right only to find out that you did it completely wrong. And just hearing the word "math" triggers bad memories. You also probably convinced yourself that you're not a math person, never will be, and you can't wait to complete your required math classes and put all the numbers, letters, and the entire Greek alphabet behind you.

In my very first week of college, I went to an advisor seeking advice about classes, the advisor immediately asked me if I'm "math person" and if I'm not then I should remain in my math section, and basically hope for the best. I left the office feeling completely defeated, even pondering whether I should change my career goals. Then I was introduced an article by my math professor about metacognition.

What if I told you there is no such thing as being a math person? The brain is like a muscle. When you lift weights, your muscles get bigger and stronger. When you just start exercising, it may be difficult to lift 20 pounds, but with enough practice, you will one day be able to lift 100 pounds. When you stop exercising, your muscles will shrink and become weaker. The brain works the exact same way.

When you practice and learn new things, the connections in your brain multiply and get stronger. The more you challenge your mind, the more your brain cells will grow. This is why things you once found impossible to do, like being fluent in a foreign language, become easier.

Becoming better at math requires practicing the right way. You wouldn't get stronger by watching someone lift weights all day, so why would you become good at math by watching your professor do math problems on the board? Getting better at math requires doing challenging problems, asking for help, and practicing, a lot. Learning the content is not enough, because if your brain doesn't use it, it loses it. This is why it's so important that after learning a concept, you practice it with vigor. It's all about putting the work in and strengthening your brain. Saying you're not a "math person" is defeating yourself and your brain.

Don't underestimate yourself, and don't let anyone else either.

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