They say junior year of college is the hardest of the four, and I found out they did not mean just academically. Junior year also brings some social challenges as well, when you and your friends are spread out living all across campus and are taking all different classes respective to your majors and getting different internships that get you working most of the week, and not to mention most upperclassman get a limited meal plan, so there is no excuse to see your friends to get lunch or dinner every day, you actually have to put in effort. Looking back, junior year taught me many valuable lessons about school and life, but here are just ten that I think are the most valuable.
1. Professors aren't kidding when they say "Don't start this the night before it's due."
Staying up until 5:45 am (yes, you read that correctly) to work on a lab report you could have started weeks before? Thanking God you have been studying for that final for two weeks because you are working on a huge semester project you didn't start in January? Yeah, would not recommend. Professors aren't kidding when they tell you to start assignments ASAP.
2. Everything works out as it's supposed to.
Who knew that the six girls my roommate and I barely knew and chose to live with would become such great friends and people we made countless memories with?
3. Choose work and classes based on your passions
A class is so much more enjoyable when you choose to study something you actually enjoy learning about. I forgot I was doing a school project when I went to my zoology lab to observe two monkeys of different species that were meeting each other for the first time because monkeys have been my favorite animal for as long as I can remember. Getting to take pictures and videos of two of them for a grade? A ten year-old Becca dream come true!
4. Who your true friends are.
It's true, the older you get, the harder life gets, and you find out very quickly and very easily who is in it for the long run and who isn't. You find out who's there on the sidelines cheering you on, and who is there for a shoulder to cry on, who is willing to pick up the phone when you call at two in the morning when you are stressed and in tears, and who you are willing to reciprocate that for. Quality over quantity, my friend.
5. You have to Balance your social time with work time.
Yes, you are in college for school work, but you are in college to have fun, too. The important thing is to find that balance where you do well and have fun. It is fun to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, but it is not fun when you receive the bad grade or you pull an all-nighter the night before to get it done because you didn't work on it.
6. Be yourself.
As Oscar Wilde once said, everyone else is taken. Your true friends are the ones who love you for who you truly are and are the ones who you can be your truest self around. With your truest self come your true friends. They go hand in hand.
7. Going out of your comfort zone results in the best experiences.
I was so nervous to fly across the country for the first time without my parents to San Diego, but my spring break immersion trip to the U.S. border with Mexico was one of the most amazing and most eye-opening experiences of my life. I met so many amazing people, learned the reality of what we are all seeing on TV, and heard so many amazing stories and lessons from the realities of life at the border and what ordinary people struggle with and go through day by day. The best lessons are those learned outside of your comfort zone.
8. There's a new lesson to be learned every single day.
Looking back, I learned a new thing every single day, and not just in terms of classes. Yes, I learned a lot of biological concepts, in class and explored the fields of Anthropology and Communications in my core classes, but I also learned a lot outside of classroom, such as how to be there for someone who needs it, or how to ~cura personalis~ myself after a long week of studying and doing assignments, or even how to cook a piece of chicken breast for dinner. The lessons to be learned are endless and expand even past sitting at a desk with a professor lecturing to you.
9. Be adventurous in the kitchen, and outside of it too.
Pasta and sauce gets boring, and so does plain chicken in the oven. Take advantage of not having to go to the dining hall, and look up recipes to spice it up! Also, be adventurous and explore campus and the town surrounding it. In Fairfield, there are so many cute lunch spots and coffee shops and places to do homework that aren't the library or the campus center.
10. You only have four years of college, so make the most of it.
It goes by in the blink of an eye, so take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, you'll regret it if you don't.