Well, it has finally come to an end; my first year of college at Kent State University. I have learned so much in my first year here at KSU. Very important things like the biology of fungi, how to make chemicals change pretty colors, sociologic theories, and a lot of statistics about chronic diseases. These are all super important, but I learned so much more about life in this first year away from home. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are 8 things I learned from my first year away from home.
- College is NOT like high school.
College is high school on some major steroids and also a little LSD. It is harder, more demanding, more stressful, and waaaaaay weirder. Besides the fact that everyone gets an overwhelming feeling of freedom and the ability to attain alcohol anywhere, there is so much random shit going on at all times. But this random shit is good shit. My favorite thing about college is the amount of culture and views you are exposed to. In high school, you are surrounded by the same 200 people for 13 years of your life in the same old town. College is like an explosion of different people, opinions, and views. If we need anything in society today, it is more tolerance for people and everything that a person is. College does that. It teaches you about other people and new things that you wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. A person that looks completely opposite of you may have the same interests or aspirations as you. Another thing about college is that it is so open. There are endless resources that you can get to for anything you would want. Colleges aren’t afraid to talk to you about the hard things like high schools are. Sex, gender, sexual orientation, different religions, drugs, alcohol, and sexual assault. Colleges get to the bottom of things and show support and awareness for these things, unlike most high schools. Yeah, you have sex ed in high school, but I can honestly say I remember nothing of that chat and besides, I had already learned everything from the internet anyways. High schools are afraid to talk about sticky subjects because at that point, parents can still control what kids are hearing. Parents don’t want their 17 year old to know what sex is, but expect them at 18 to take on “adult” responsibilities. Kids go into college knowing absolutely nothing, or very little legitimate facts about these topics because it just wasn’t talked about, and college tackles this. College is so much harder than high school, but also so worth it. At the end of college, you will have a lot of debt, but also a lot of knowledge. Hopefully, in the 4 years that you are at college you study something that you are passionate about and you can feel proud that you went through all of the crap to get to where you are. College is not like high school at all, it is so much better.
2. The Freshman 15 is real.
College is full of new freedoms. One of these freedoms is eating when and whatever you want. Dining halls are good and evil. The good is that they have an option for everyone, and they usually have pretty decent food; main courses, sides, and desserts. The evil is the fact that this food (and dessert) is available 24/7, 7 days a week. If you’re feeling ice cream, they have it. If you’re feeling pizza, they have it. If you’re feeling chocolate cake, they have it. If you’re feeling fried mac & cheese bites, they have it. No one “feels” green beans and brussel sprouts; you are gonna pass that shit up. Dining halls always have comfort food, and although it hits the spot, it isn’t always the best thing for you. The next thought that comes to mind is, “Well, if I go to the gym after I eat all of this garbage, it will balance out”. Ugh, no you stupid child you are so wrong!!!! You will be so overwhelmed with making new friends, new levels of work and effort, joining clubs/greek life that you will most likely not go to the gym very often. I’m not saying I didn’t go to the gym at all, but I could have gone more.
3. You will probably rethink your academic decisions 12.5 billion times.
I can honestly say that I still don’t know what the heck I am doing with my life. In my first year of college, I changed my major 3 different times. I started out as a nursing major. I quickly realized that I couldn’t do that because I just really didn’t want the stress of nursing school which is very competitive at Kent. I changed from nursing to biology, where I explored 2 different concentrations. Me, the girl who changed from nursing because she didn’t want the “stress of competition”, decided to focus on pre-medicine (wtf was I thinking????? I make no sense). I was on a Grey’s Anatomy kick and decided I wanted to be Meredith Grey. If you don’t know, medical school is extremely (if not the most) competitive thing you can probably get into academically. I also realized that in being a doctor, you have to (usually) perform procedures on patients. After flashing back my A&P days to that one time I passed out looking at a sheep brain, I realized this also was not for me. I then changed to Cellular and Molecular Biology because I decided I wanted to do research and be a cute little scientist. I then began classes, and then came the storm of what the fuck. Chemistry is hard. Biology is hard. Trigonometry is hard. All of these hard things are necessary to obtain this bachelors degree. After I LITERALLY failed all 3 of my first exams, I decided to spend most of my time researching things like, “how to become a trophy wife” and “is being a stripper really that bad??”. This did not help my grades, but I was for sure that I needed to change my major and find something that I was truly interested in. I stumbled upon “Public Health”, and I didn’t even know what that was. After looking into it more and meeting with my advisor, I decided to officially change majors to what I am not, Public Health Administration! I am really happy where I am now, and it was a bumpy ride getting here, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because I have found something that I am truly passionate about.
3. The friends that matter will stay with you.
I remember being worried that my friends from high school would abandon me. I was nervous and overwhelmed about going to college, and they were too. I remember all of my friends left for school the week before me, which left me all alone at home. They were so busy that week moving in, meeting new people, and checking out campus that they didn’t even have the time to talk to me or any of the rest of our group. We had a group message that I thought would deteriorate by the second month of school, but when the messages kept coming I gained more hope. After the initial first weeks, everyone got into a schedule and we bonded over the things people saw or did at their respective colleges. It was fun to hear the stories and then eventually meet the people behind them. To this day, my close friends from high school and I still share this group message, and I keep in touch with a few other friends. We visit each other all the time and hang out on breaks. It’s awesome to see your closest friends go through the same thing as you and grow and learn and watch them blossom into the person that they are meant to be.
4. It’s okay to miss your parents.
When I left for college in August I was sick of my parents. I was sick of being told what I could and couldn’t do and when to be home. I just felt stuck in a place that I had outgrown. I felt like I was waiting on my life to start, but it wasn’t moving fast enough. I was trapped in time. I finally got to move in to my dorm, and it finally felt like things were starting to move again. My mom cried when she hugged me goodbye, even though I would be home the next weekend for a family wedding. I was embarrassed, but mostly unfazed by this expression of emotion. I was just so ready to be here and “start life” that it didn’t hit me as hard. I had friends who cried almost every day because they missed their parents, but I never understood. I was finally free to come and go when I pleased and just do what I wanted. I missed them, but not so much that I was upset over their absence. Finally at the end of my first semester right before finals, I was so stressed out that I basically shut down and binged Netflix. One of my dad’s favorite movies, Animal House, was on Netflix, so I decided to text him and let him know. He ended up calling me in the wee hours of the night and told me he missed me and was excited for me to come home. I don’t know why, but this is the first time I truly missed my parents. I was doing horrible in my classes and was having a life crisis regarding my major and what to do with my life. I had no ambition or motivation to do anything at that point in the semester because no matter what I did, I felt like it wasn’t enough. I am fortunate enough to have 2 awesome, loving, and supportive parents. I got off the phone with my dad and cried it out for a while, because I finally let my emotions out and physically felt how much I missed my parents. The best thing about parents is that you can fail miserably at just about anything in life, you can fuck up to the max, you can make mistakes, but in the end they still love you and they just want you to be happy. They don’t care if you fail, or if you fuck up, or if you don’t know what you’re doing; they are just happy that they have you. I thought I was so cool and so mature and so old that it was uncool to miss your parents. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was an adult and that I didn’t need to miss my parents to get through. But seriously, you are never too old to miss your parents.
5. You will spend more time alone than you ever have, but you will like it.
I swear, my favorite things to do is be alone. There is nothing more satisfying than finally being alone. My whole life I was used to having my own room and space, but moving in to college means moving in with a roommate usually. I was lucky enough to have an AMAZING roommate. We get along so well and we have the same pet peeves. I totally hit the jackpot with Madds! But, regardless of how awesome she is, I really wasn’t used to sharing an 10×12 room with another human being. I also have never shared a bathroom with 40 other girls, so that was new as well. There is nothing I love more than sitting outside on a nice day with my headphones on, going shopping all by myself, or driving alone. Being completely alone is such a great time to think about things. Being alone ALL the time isn’t always a good thing, but the small moments you have to yourself in college are beneficial to the mind.
6. There will always be someone “more” than you.
One of the most important things I have learned in college is there is always someone “more” than you. By this I mean that everyone is different and unique. People have many different qualities that make them, them. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, more creative, more popular, more athletic, more social. On the other hand, there will always be someone more reserved, more unathletic, more introverted, more analytical, more antisocial, more challenged at certain things than you. Never feel bad about the things you are bad at, because there is always someone worse, and always be humble, because there will always be someone better as well. College is where you find yourself and the things you are interested in, so make the most of it.
7. There is a place for you.
College clubs are insane. There is a club for everything. There are clubs for sports, academics, and more. If you have an interest, there is a club for you to join. Some of the more unique clubs I have seen include the K.I.N.K club for students interested in BDSM, 4 The Love of Paws for animal lovers, the Electronic Dance Music club, The Kent State Pokemon League, and the Ukelele club. There is literally anything and everything to chose from, and if you can’t find a club that you fit in with, you can start your own! I am personally a part of KSU SAPH, Student Activists for Public Health, and I fit right in! There will always be a group that accepts you.
8. It’s okay to fail.
The biggest issue I had with my first year of college was the idea that failing was a thing. Up until my first semester of college, I was an A/B average student who didn’t have to try to get good grades. They always just magically happened. My first 3 college exams all happened to be on the same exact day, back to back. Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Biology (aka, the trifecta of failure and sadness). Trig was first, and I was so nervous because I sucked at all math. I hated it, and still do. I got a 43% on my first college exam after studying non stop for days. I was crushed and confused. How could I be so stupid? I took Chemistry and I did better on that than the Trig, but not much. I got a 60% on my first Chemistry exam. Next was Biology, and I did about the same with a 60%. I was defeated and upset. Why was I so stupid and what was I doing wrong? After improving very little, I dropped Trigonometry because I was failing the class with just over a 40% (I also found out that I didn’t even need the class for my major at the time, thanks Kent State Advising!). I improved very little in the other 2 classes as well, but I pulled through an got a B in biology and a C- in Chemistry. By then I had changed my major and scheduled all new classes in Public Health for the next semester, so I was mostly looking forward to that and not hating my life. The point is that even though I failed badly, I did try really hard with tutors and studying. I also realized that this was not the field for me, and I accepted the failure, but I turned it into a win. I am doing so much better this semester and I am glad that I admitted my failures and changed for the better.
I hope this helps my incoming freshman friends and I also hope that my other friends in college currently find something in this that they can relate to. Don’t worry y’all, we can get through this crazy college thing together 🙂 Ciao for now!