I take the bus to Walmart almost every Friday. It takes me off my campus and around town, stopping at the hospital, Starbucks, the baseball fields, and several strip malls. The trip is so typical, and the city is now so familiar, that when the memory of my first time riding the bus last Friday struck me, I almost cried.
It’s so odd to look back on the younger version of myself who had to call her mom before getting on the bus for the first time. Who counted the stops to Walmart, because she was afraid she’d miss hers. Who made it to the bus stop twenty minutes early, just in case. That me is only eight months in the past, but still, she feels like someone who existed so long in the past.
My first year at college has gone so much faster than any other year of my life. I feel like I’ve been careening through my semesters at breakneck speed. I’ve met so many new and wonderful people, and built up a friend group of people who are struggling with the same things as I am; we support each other, and they’re always there for me. I’ve tackled classes with subject matter far above my head and come out on top, and in the process, I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could.
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I feel so accomplished when I’m able to walk up to someone in the cafeteria and say hi! At the beginning of the year, I was lost in a sea of strangers, but now I recognize so many faces.
There are things I wish I knew before the year began. I wish I knew that:
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• If you see someone you want to be friends with, introduce yourself!
• Join any clubs you find interesting. If they take up too much time, you can always quit them later! And they’re also a great way to met people.
• Take classes that you find interesting, but will also help you reach your graduation goals. Check out how many electives you can take for your major, and take some fun classes to relieve the pressure of some of your other classes. Also, if you’re not enjoying the classes of your major, look into why that is.
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• Make time to study. It can be easy to get caught up going out and meeting people, but college classes move at a far faster pace than high school classes, so falling behind is doubly stressful.
• Find quiet places outside your room to study.
• Remember to get enough sleep, and look after yourself!
College makes you a stronger, more complete person. Living on your own for the first time is difficult, and facing all the challenges that a new environment brings is terrifying—I think that if I knew all the challenges I would have to face before the year was out, I would have had a lot more fear in August. But, there’s no person I’d rather be than the person I am now. The challenges of being on my own, of finding a whole new friend group, of growing up, were daunting, but I am proud of me.
Next year, if you’re going to college in the fall, you’ll be in the same position as I was, even if your college is far from home or right next door. I know that you will be able to overcome whatever challenges life throws at you, and be the best version of the person you always have been. Good luck!