The first week of school. That glorious flurry of anticipation, dread, excitement, confusion, and utter chaos. As far back as I can remember, the first week of school has been somewhat of a momentous occasion. Department stores at the mall start advertising halfway into July for the best new shoes and backpacks - throwing out the bikinis and short shorts for boots and sweaters to get everyone in the mood, ignoring the fact that sweater weather won't be a real thing for at least four more months. Parents slowly start re-adjusting their children’s schedule to accommodate getting up at six in the morning to catch the bus, and busy moms start planning the grocery list around what’s packable in Superman and Barbie lunchboxes.

Now that I’m in college, there are lots of things that go through my mind as the first week of school approaches. I no longer buy a spiffy new backpack or get boxes of tissues to bring to my teachers because they were on the district-mandated supply list, but I start my preparations early, nonetheless. Come the end of July, I’m checking the bookstore website to see when the fall textbook list will be posted, I’m making sure my highlighters from last semester haven’t dried out, and I’m perusing blackboard in hopes of finding that one of my professors has posted the syllabus in advance. There’s always still a sense of excitement at what’s to come - an intriguing class that I’ll be taking, the prospect of seeing my friends who have been out of the state all summer, or the opportunity to be involved in fun events on campus. The moment, though, that I step onto campus that first day and into the hustle and bustle of a new semester, there are many thoughts that flood my mind - and most of them are not the most encouraging. Here are some thoughts that I had this past week - the first week of the fall semester - and that have fluttered through most college students’ minds at some point.

“Campus is much busier than I remember.”

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but after working at an almost deserted campus all summer, the start of the semester makes everywhere seem incredibly crowded. Suddenly there’s nowhere to hide from the masses of students scrambling to find their new classes - don’t even get me started about how busy the bookstore and financial aid offices are.

“Is this everyone in the class?”

Sometimes this means that someone you thought would be in your class isn’t; that your class is enormous and you thought it wouldn’t be; or, in my case, your class is remarkably small and you come to the realization that you won’t be getting away with not doing the readings or participating in discussions this semester. Oh well.

“I should drop this class immediately.”

Syllabi can be both incredibly useful and incredibly terrifying. Having everything you will need to do the entire semester listed out in front of you can be overwhelming - especially if the class is not exactly what you were expecting.

“I need to get through this class to graduate.”

Reading Chaucer in the original Middle English from the 14th century may not sound fun, but it’s required in order to graduate with the degree you were intending to get (and switching your major this late in the game is a very, very bad idea). Great.

“It actually is nice to be back.”

Although the first week of class is undoubtedly filled with overwhelming and less-than-spectacular moments, being back in the swing of things is always a nice feeling. After all, you are here for a reason and that reason will only become clearer the more you are involved and the more you stick through it all.

“This is going to be a great semester!”

You got this - by now, you are an expert at juggling all the responsibilities that come with college. You could join the circus, but you might as well just step into the metaphorical ring that is this semester. Your juggling skills will get you through anything.