My dearest Claire,
I want to start out by saying congratulations on surviving your first semester of college. You probably had high expectations by the time Welcome Week came around and you thought you had everything down. But, if we're being honest, you were definitely wrong.
Nothing could've prepared you for the task of navigating an insanely large campus or writing intensive lab reports with a thousand specific details. Yes, you were definitely aware that college was not going to be anything like high school, but there were a lot of changes that you hadn't anticipated.
Living in a big city definitely took away the sense of security you had living in a small town and a lot of unnecessary stress came from this new environment. Although deep down you knew you were doing your best to be safe, it was still a bit shocking.
The biggest disappointment you had to face during the fall semester was a sudden change in the grading standards between high school and college. You suddenly went from being an 'A' student to 'just average.' Curves ultimately determined whether you passed a class or not. Before, you had never had to worry about a few extra points on an exam.
So, you didn't get the grade that you'd hoped for in a class or two. But remember when you were positive that you would fail Spanish? You ended up passing the Language Proficiency Exam in all four areas. And you did get an 'A' on that final lab report that you spent hours tediously editing.
Not only that, but you made a lot of new friends that you care about a lot, and who care about you in return. Do you remember what your life was like before you met them? Because, seriously, where have these people been your entire life?
Remember to never take moments with them for granted during this next semester because, after this one, everyone is going to go their separate ways and they won't be living a few doors down anymore. Do not take those movie marathons, McDonald's runs, bingo nights or "studying" time for granted; don't think twice, just enjoy the time with them.
Although this past semester had its highs and lows, the purpose of those four months were to simply get a taste of what college is like. Adjusting to this new lifestyle was important because now you know what to expect for next semester. You can finally start thriving.
Now study hard, get a decent amount of sleep each night, drink water, stop spending so much money, take more photos and put off that "Parks and Recreation" marathon until after you get through your first round of midterms. You got this.