15 Important Things I Learned Freshman Year Outside Of The Classroom
I can honestly say this year has been nothing like I expected, or rather, like the ideal image I conjured up from multiple viewings of "American Pie" and "Sydney White."
As I sit here reflecting on the past seven months of my life, procrastinating by packing up my dorm room instead of cramming for my finals, I can say with great confidence the one word to describe this past year couldn't be anything but "memorable."
I can recount story after story, remembering the tears both from mental breakdowns and laughing spells so extreme, I felt as if I would never catch my breath.
I can’t say whether I’m happy or sad it’s over, but I am simply shocked the time has passed by this quickly.
From being tied to family, chores and various responsibilities, to suddenly finding yourself out on your own with the ability to make your own choices, clean your room at your own discretion and essentially do anything you damn well please, is a big change to experience.
The initial excitement of newfound freedom quickly dies as the laundry piles up and you slowly come to realize it will not disappear until you do a load yourself.
But, some of the hysteria remains and you practically pinch yourself every time you remember your mom won't discover the plastic fifth of vodka hidden beneath your bed.
Freshman year is an idealized life marker that has been continuously aspired to for generations.
It's a milestone further intensified by the constant presence of social media images practically oozing fun through computer screens.
High school students essentially bury their heads for four years, powering through the AP tests and the SATs, just to get to that final moment where the hard work pays off — when you can still work hard but play harder.
As one of those kids who spent the entirety of my adolescent life counting down the days to my fresh start, it is absolutely unbelievable how the first year has already ended.
I wanted nothing more than a fresh start, the opportunity to become the person I had wanted to be for so long but never had enough confidence to accept in high school.
Both good and bad, this idealized year has not always been what I so desperately hoped it would be. But, I have learned an unbelievable amount about myself, college and what the movies got wrong.
It’s up to you to give yourself a fresh start
If you want to become the entirely new person you always dreamed of becoming, it is essential to step out of your comfort zone and to do so early.
Fight those tendencies to hang out with the kids you already knew from high school and make a serious effort to meet new people, no matter how hard it may seem.
It can even be as simple as leaving the door to your dorm open for hours on end; you never know who will peek his or her head in.
Your roommate can affect every aspect of your college experience
They say your freshman year roommate will either be your best friend or a funny story to speak of later. Who knew it was possible to get both?
I certainly didn’t, but I have fortunately come to find that for almost 20 years, I have had an identical twin sister in every way growing up on the opposite side of the country.
We learned each other’s habits, both sober and otherwise, and it was an absolute essential for guaranteeing we returned safely each night.
The secret: Chinese food is a miracle worker. While not nearly enough people will experience my luck in this category, it’s best to at least maintain civility for your own personal sanity.
I could live in a residence hall for all four years
Put 1,000 18-year-olds in 15 x 15 rooms, and crazy sh*t happens.
It’s important to get to know all the people on your dormitory hallway, even if just for the simple fact that they not only see you at your best, but your absolute worst, too.
Whether that be the walk from the bathroom with acne cream spotted on your face, a drunk food fest after a wild night out or perhaps the 8 am walk of shame in last night’s heeled booties, The people in your dorm will quickly become your absolute best friends.
You’ll never have to worry about meeting the delivery minimum after 1 am because you can count on having a picnic in the hallway, whether everyone went out or not.
You will quickly learn how much you love your mom
My mom has always said I am the worst sick child, constantly requesting food, water or simply her company during illnesses when I claim to be knocking on death’s door.
This rang true when I woke up with a horrible flu and bronchitis during the winter, and during a 4 am rush to the trashcan, I didn’t think twice about dialing my mother.
I hadn’t even thought twice about the 2,250 miles separating me from my family, but sitting on the floor of the bathroom at the end of the dorm hallway on speakerphone with my poor mom in the middle of the night, I finally felt how far I had chosen to go away.
Don’t eat tater tots
The Freshman 15 is real. It’s funny how the only clichéd part of college the movies correctly depicted is the one aspect that is every girl’s worst nightmare.
Avoid the greasy junk food you can easily do without, as you will quickly realize your drunk counterpart may not remember the previous meals of the day during a late-night quest for cheesy bread.
Go to gym, even if that means trudging through the snow to get there.
You will thank yourself later when you return home for winter break to that one high school reunion party where your weight and “changes” are the first thing others comment on.
Learn your limits
If you didn’t have any experience with alcohol in high school, it’s vital for your own sake that you get acquainted quickly.
No guy likes a sloppy drunk girl puking in a frat house. Count your shots. Try not to mix hard liquor with beer or, more critically, a wine bag.
Basically, avoid wine bags completely so as to prevent the worst hangover God ever created. Take care of yourself, but also look out for others.
Get an Uber account
I would hope this would already be a given, but Uber is a lifesaver. It’s honestly a miracle people make it home on some occasions, so major claps for all Uber drivers.
Whether class is just too far in the -10 degree windstorm or the frat house is more than two blocks away, always call Uber.
UberX is generally cheap in college towns and with the split fares, you can often walk away with 69 cent rides.
Also, extra bonus: Uber receipts are super helpful when trying to determine your whereabouts from the night before.
Play to your strengths
Yes college also has classes. If you’re coming from a small school like I did, where you are accustomed to 20-person classes, try your best to avoid the 500-person lectures.
You’ll soon begin to appreciate your high school environment when you come to realize you are just another face in the crowd, or more accurately, another ID number on a scantron, since three multiple choice tests will be the sole determinant of your grade for nearly every class.
Especially if you attend a large public school. Joining a sorority is a great way to narrow down the students to a group you already have a lot in common with.
These sisters or brothers will really become your family in every sense of the word.
Your lineage can also make or break your experience. My big was one of my best friends, and I honestly consider her to be my real big sister.
Assemble a costume drawer
The number of themed parties — particularly mixers — in Greek Life is rather astounding.
Have a good base layer of clothes going into the first week so you’ll be prepared for anything: animal ears, sports jerseys, Hawaiian lei, feather boa, flapper dress and pretty much anything you can think of because you’ll use it all.
It also makes great bartering material if you’re looking to borrow clothes from a friend.
Walk of shames are shameless
They will happen, whether you do one yourself or simply witness it. It’s not comfortable for either party, but they are hilarious to laugh about after the fact.
If you are to ever find yourself in this predicament, find the back entrance and try to make it back at a time in the morning before people are walking to class. But don’t fret, they happen to the best of us.
Darty and tailgate naps will be the soundest sleep you get all year
Nothing says uninterrupted sleep like early-morning drinking and dancing. By 2 pm, you’ll find yourself stumbling back to the room, ready to call it a night before the sun has even set.
Make sure to keep snacks in the room for this very occasion, as you will eventually wake up hangry.
Don’t overload your Facebook friends
While it may seem difficult at times, try not to bombard your social media followers with massive photo album uploads that include nothing but 10 versions of the same blurry images that do nothing but indicate you went out with your sorority sisters, drank too much and took a bad picture.
Stay classy and save your best, soberly edited images for Instagram, which will give those who care just enough to stay up to date with your life and those who couldn’t give a crap won’t be irritated enough to unfollow you.
This method keeps everyone happy. In this same area, try to keep the Snapchat stories to a minimum, at least in length.
No one wants to see 100 seconds of a dark party where nothing more is detectable than a single strobe light.
Save the long ones for the absolute must-be-documented moments, like when your friend’s hilarious drunk alter ego stumbles down the hallway.
Your Snap friends will thank you, for not only for the respect of their time, but for also including them on the greatest absurdities of your life.
College isn’t always easy
Not every day can be as fun and carefree as a darty.
Mornings will often turn into whole days spent in bed cuddled up with the one constant in our lives: a Netflix subscription.
There will be ups and downs, tears here and there, but at the end of the day, you’ll make it out okay.
Seasonal depression is real
If you are from the west coast and end up attending school in cold weather, there is nothing to be ashamed about.
Weeks can go by without one ray of sunshine. It's a sad reality that can easily impact how you go about your daily life.
Take Vitamin D pills and absorb the sun while you still can. Seek help if things prove unmanageable.
Take it all in at a time when everything seems new and exciting. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself a washed up sophomore.
Remember the good times, learn from the bad and document it all with a blackmail folder of pictures and videos to reminisce over with your friends and a bottle of wine at the year’s end.
Also, if you take a pull from the communal handle, you will get mono.