It's Okay To Be THAT Freshman

It's Okay To Be THAT Freshman

The beauty of experience is that it always teaches and although it may be one of the most difficult things you’ve done, it becomes part of your story, one that eventually becomes part of your life.
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As freshman year begins to come to a close, I have begun to reflect on the things that characterized myself and the person I was throughout the year, and how that’s changed from the fresh-faced freshman I was at the beginning of this year. People always told me that college is a time of intense change and evolution of the self, and I always shrugged it off and figured that I would experience it myself when the time comes. The time eventually came, but the change in myself was something that I only realized through hindsight.

Entering freshman year, there was nothing that could have prepared me for the feeling of being in an entirely new city with no one I even vaguely knew. Personally, being a major extrovert and generally enjoying the act of meeting new people I figured that I would make friends easily enough, and transition into college with no bumps and flaws. However, I had a much harder transition than I previously believed, causing myself to doubt myself and my character. However, I am constantly thankful for that experience and the rest of the experiences I had during freshman year since they always challenged me to grow into the person I am now.

Something that I learned from being a college freshman is that it’s always okay to be that “freshman." It’s okay to be homesick sometimes, to call your mom crying because you’re not sure if you actually have friends that you like, and to text your friends at 3 in the morning because you need someone to talk to. I have realized that it’s possible to be lonely in a room filled with people, at a party, and also surrounded by your closest friends. Over this past year, I have been that freshman who has gotten a little too crazy on a Friday night and regretted it immediately the next morning, that freshman who realized her friends weren’t really the people she saw herself being close to for the rest of her life, and that freshman who put everything into a person who she realized wasn’t worth it.

College has always been something more than a place to study, but rather a place to learn. Learn academics, learning life lessons and learning to appreciate the people and things that I have in my life has been taught to me ever since I stepped on campus in August.

Reflecting on my first year of school, it perhaps was a somewhat stereotypical first-year experience, but my personal experiences have made myself into something that I am proud of. However, perhaps the best lesson is that I am never done having lessons and that this is just one year out of four more. The beauty of experience is that it always teaches and although it may be one of the most difficult things you’ve done, it becomes part of your story, one that eventually becomes part of your life.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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