This semester has been so crazy with moving out early and switching to online coursework, and it is hard to believe that my freshman year has almost come to an end. Even though my time was cut short, I am so grateful for the time I did have on campus this academic year.
Coming to UGA was a big leap for me. The campus is massive and there are so many people from all over the world. Even though it was a little scary, I knew that it was a place where I could grow and be challenged, and I turned out to be right. This is what I learned my freshman year:
1. Keep an Open Mind
You might have expectations and hopes coming in, and that is great, but be sure to have an open mind. College is a place of diversity, growth, and exploration. You meet people from all different backgrounds and perspectives. Be open to meeting different people and trying new clubs, events, and activities. Go to hall and student events! One time, my RA invited our floor to go to the "Flapjacks and Flannels" event. I was a little hesitant at first, but I decided to go last minute. I ended up having so much fun and getting to know other residents. Along with new people and activities, be open in your classes. Participate in class discussions and try to see from various viewpoints.
2. It's Up to Me
My grandpa has a saying: "If it is to be, it's up to me." If you desire to get somewhere or make something happen, you must put the work in. This not only applies to grades and academic goals, but it is also relevant to making friends. I felt very lonely during my first semester. It seemed like everyone had found their groups of friends, and I missed my friends and family from home. When spring semester came, I knew that I needed to reach out. I got to know people in my Monday night small group, went to get lunch with friends and mentors, got involved in more hall activities, and invited others to go to sporting events with me. The truth is that there will be times when you feel lonely, but you are not alone. Everyone feels that way. Be the one that reaches out.
3. Change is Ok
Remember your roots and where you come from, but also remember that change is ok. I grew a lot both spiritually and mentally during my first year of college. It can be hard coming home sometimes and going back to your old environment, because you have changed so much. It might take your family and friends some time to get used to your new self, but know that change can be good. You have so much room to grow. Never let someone's view or opinion of you keep you from reaching your goals and improving as a person.
4. Keep Going
Challenges and conflicts are inevitable. There were times when I doubted myself and whether I chose the right school. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and faced disputes with my roommate. There will be times like that. You are where you are for a reason, and with each challenge you learn something and come out stronger than before. Communication is key. Never be afraid to ask for help from a friend, RA, mentor, or campus resource.
My freshman year was full of challenges, growth, and fun. I love my community and all of the opportunities available to students. There is so much to look forward to, and I wish you the best first year :)