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3 Important Things I Learned From a Semester Abroad
Dear incoming college freshman,
You’ve made it: you’ve officially survived the living hell known as high school. Now, it’s time to pack your essentials and head off to college to pursue your education and future dreams. Before you start your first day though, there are a few things you might need to know for the road ahead:
1) College Isn’t As Hard As They Say The teachers throughout high school make college seem like the hardest thing you’ll ever go through in your life-but it’s really not like that. The classes may cover more intense topics than high school, but they really aren’t that different. Don’t stress about the homework, the essays, and the projects-it’s all practical.
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2) Don’t Trust Everyone You Meet Sure, you’ll want to spend all the time you can with your roommates-who seem like your best friends. Although you spend night after night with these people, that doesn’t mean you know everything about them. A majority of the people you meet freshman year will most likely not be your friends during the next three years at college. And that’s okay.
3) High School Friends Are Numbered Back in high school, it was easy to stay friends with a lot of people because you saw them every day for four years. Now, everyone is going to different schools and connecting with new people. If you keep in touch with at least two people from your high school friend group throughout college, those are the people you’ll be friends with for life.
4) It’s Possible To Reinvent Yourself In high school, I was pinned as the “quiet girl.” I couldn’t shake this image of myself because everyone in the school had known me for so long-but in college, no one has the slightest clue. I talked to every person I came across, and completely changed my personality. College is a chance to start over-and don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.
5) You Will Be Broke As Hell Those 2 a.m. pizza runs seem like they are oh-so-necessary, but when the week comes to an end and you’re running on five bucks, you might regret that decision. Sure, food is important, but watch your wallet before you’re stuck calling home for more cash.
6) Try Out As Many Clubs As You Can College clubs are so completely different than high school. On-campus clubs help you meet so many people, and connect you with others who enjoy the same activities as yourself. There’s a club for anyone-whether it’s the student newspaper, radio station, entertainment committee, quidditch, habitat for humanity-or hundreds of others. Joining a club will be your best decision.
7) Don’t Be Afraid To Go Out It’s imperative to keep up your grades at school because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re there for. BUT- this doesn’t mean you can’t go out and party every once in a while. Despite all the horror stories and drunken adventures you’ve heard, enjoy yourself a little. As long as you have a charged cell phone and a buddy, you’re set for the night.
8) You Can Stay In, Too Just because everyone else wants to go out and you have a test in the morning-does not mean you have to go. There will be plenty of parties throughout your college career, and missing one to study or rest will not kill you.
9) Take Risks Make a bucket list for your next four years at school, and try your best to cross off as many as you can. Once you’re out of school, there won’t be time to adventure in the late hours of the night like you can when you’re 20. The time for late night skinny dipping or a night out at the club is now.
10) There’s Still Drama I’m sure you thought that high school drama was over. Wrong. Just because it’s college does not mean there isn’t drama. Girls are still petty and rumors are still spread. Guys still don’t know how to commit and people still talk behind your back. Do whatever you can to not get sucked into drama-because that part of your life is over.
11) Relationships Are Not Defined Often This, this drives me completely insane. Instead of dating anymore, people in college often like to use the phrase “we’re just a thing,” “we’re not that serious,” or the classic, “we’re not official.” I’m not sure why so many people are afraid of commitment and to actually go on a date with someone in college, but here’s a tip-it’s actually more fun than just hooking up. Don’t play games and tell others how you really feel.
12) There’s No Popularity Contest Unlike high school, there aren’t really “cliques” or opportunities to be Prom King and Queen. It’s important to focus on you, and don’t care about what anyone else thinks-because this isn’t a contest to see who’s on top of the pyramid, this is simply life.
13) Call Your Parents No matter how much fun you’re having, don’t forget about your parents or family back home. It won’t hurt to give your parents a call at least every week to let them know what’s up and how you’ve been. They miss you, and deep down, you miss them too.
14) Be True To Yourself Before making a decision, think to yourself if that is really what you want to do. Don’t let others push you around, and be confident. Love your body, don’t self-hate, and be true to yourself-because at the end of the day, you’re all you’ve got.
15) Your Future Is Up To You College is what you make it. If you don’t want to go to class, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to do your homework, you don’t have to. You’ve now entered the real world where you future is solely up to you. This isn’t high school-where you’re forced to do certain things on a daily basis. You’re paying to go to school and you chose to go to school where you did: so now it’s all up to you to succeed.
These are the most imperative tips I’ve gathered throughout my past two years at school. Of course, there’s other things you need to know-like how to do your own laundry, how to get up early in the morning for an 8am class, or how to be on a professor’s good side. You’ll need to learn how to differentiate the good friends from the bad apples, how to balance your own money, and how to get around without a car on campus. You’ll need to decide whether or not to go Greek, join a sports team, and how often you want to take a trip home.
BUT. This will all come in time, and you don’t need to worry about it until a problem arises. For now, take time to spend with your friends and family at home, and don’t overpack your suitcase too much. Walk into your first day of college with an open mind and an open heart. There’s hundreds of people you are yet to meet, fall for, and connect with for the rest of your lives.
And hey, if you survived high school, you can most definitely survive this.
A College Junior