Even though I had looked forward to it for so many years, I still had no idea what to expect my first weeks of college. The only info I had to go on was my dorm name, and the names of my two roommates. Everything else was a complete mystery to me.
So when I showed up on move in day, I was wide-eyed and innocent — and totally overwhelmed. During my first few hours on campus, I was ushered towards my dorm room, I met my roommates and their entire extended families, I attended opening ceremony events, (where I may or may not have pretended I was at Hogwarts), I unpacked all of my world possessions, and met so many people it made my head spin.
The following weeks were more of the same. I don't think I've ever done more ice breakers (so many trust falls and human knots). And I don't think I've ever gotten more lost. But you know what? It was all part of the experience.
A few weeks (OK, maybe months) in, I finally started to find my groove. I had an amazing group of friends, I knew my way around campus, and I was starting to create a schedule that meant actually getting some work done. Yes, it took a lot of adjusting. And yes, it was tiring. But it was also incredibly fun. If you're starting college this year, trust me — you have a lot to look forward to. Below are some things that will likely happen, so get ready and get excited.
1. Watching Your Parents Drive Away Will Be Hard
After seeing your family every single day for 18 years, it can come as quite the shock to watch them drive away. As their car disappears into the distance, you'll realize that — for the first time ever — you are truly on your own. For some people, (ahem, me) it can be pretty heartbreaking. For others, it's nothing but exiting. If you fall into my group and feel homesick AF, never fear. The more you get involved on campus, the faster the sadness will subside.
2. The Campus Map Might Look Like A Dizzying Labyrinth
One of the biggest stressors the first few weeks of school will be finding your way around campus, according to guest blogger Brian Tinsman on The Washington Post. Even if you carry around a map with all the buildings on it, you'll probs still struggle to find your classroom. So give yourself extra time, or tag along with friends 'til you know your way around.
3. You'll Quickly Realize You Have To Be A Grown Up
Despite the rumors, college requires a lot of "adulting." Being on your own means getting yourself up, creating a schedule, and making sure you eat — all things that are easily forgotten when you're not used to taking care of yourself.
4. The Word "Syllabus" Will Echo In Your Head
Most professors follow syllabi to a T, so read them over and treat them like gold. "In some courses, the syllabus contains important clues about what will be on the tests, buried in the statement of the course's goal and objectives," said Dana Reeder on LinkedIn.com. "Be alert to these tip-offs about what the professor thinks is most important." It's the key to a successful semester.
5. There Will Be All Sorts Of Freshmen Events
And you should definitely go to them. "The purpose of these activities is to put everyone in a group who are in the exact same position — new, probably not knowing anyone," said Reeder. If you're feeling lonely or friendliness, this is an excellent opportunity to not be so alone and friendless. So get your butt out there, drink yourself some punch, and start making friends.
6. You'll Probably Forget To Eat
With everything going on (and no scheduled lunch times), you'll likely forget to eat. Or worse, you'll remember to eat, but it'll be almost 100 percent cereal. (Fair warning: most colleges have delicious cereal options.) While you should indulge in whatever makes you happy, do remember to consume some nutrition. Your parents will be so happy you did.
7. People Will Probably Throw A Party In Your Dorm
Depending on your school, this will be more or less likely to happen. And depending on your personality, you'll be more or less thrilled. Either way, it'll be quite the eye-opening glimpse into what it's like to live amongst hundreds of people who are all the same age.
8. You'll Either Love Or Hate Your Roommate
I was lucky enough to be paired with a roommate who remains my best friend to this very day. But that doesn't happen for everyone. Lots of times, the powers who decide who rooms with who screw up big time, and pair two completely opposite personalities. If this happens to you, setting some ground rules can help, according to Reeder. (i.e., no guests allowed past midnight, quiet hours, etc.). But if things seem truly unfixable, you can always ask to switch.
9. Yes, You Should Buy The Books
If anything on this planet is expensive, it's college textbooks. They're so pricey that many people don't bother buying them. And while I totally understand, I also think it's important to get the books so you can take notes, or study without waiting to borrow a friend's. There are cheaper options than the college bookstore (check out this list on Lifehacker.com), so don't let the fear of dropping some dough stop you from getting the materials you need.
10. You'll Stay Up Later Than You Ever Have Before
Even if you previously considered yourself a night owl, there is nothing like a dorm full of potential friends to keep you up until the wee hours of the morning. During my first nights away at school, I found myself awake until 4 a.m. on the regular. The nights seemed to fly by because I was off making friends and running about campus. Definitely take advantage of this, but also remember to get yourself some sleep.
11. Don't Start Skipping Classes
I was very unlucky to have many 8 a.m. classes my freshmen year, and skipping sure was tempting. But remember — this is your education, and you're paying a lot for it. So don't get in the habit of missing class. "The basic rule of thumb is never skip until you need a mental health day," said Tinsman. "But when you do, make sure you enjoy your day off." Study, take naps, and hang out with your new friends.
Because, as they say, these are the best four years of your life. Whether that's true or not, I highly recommend you try your best to make it be so.
Images: Pexels (12)