As my first year at the University of Minnesota Duluth is coming to a close with only a few finals and a presentation standing in my way of summer, I have began to reflect on the lessons I have learned and the things that I wish I would have known about.
- Go to welcome week. Sure some of the activities may not be the most fun or interesting but they are worthwhile. You may feel obligated to skip them to go party or goof off because it is your first time being "free". But let me tell you something, you've got all year long to go out and have fun! So why not go to welcome week? You are given many opportunities to meet people that have things in common with you, free meals, free shirts, free candy and most importantly you have the opportunity to build relationships with older students and new students who are in the same boat as you.
- Talk to everyone. It is as simple as saying hello. That is all you've got to to. During the first few weeks of freshman year, everyone is still in that same boat as you, so it is the perfect time to strike up conversation with a complete stranger. Ask where they are from, their major, what dorm they are in, or ask for their name. A simple question surely does go a long way, and who knows, you may learn a lot about one another and become good friends. Just take a chance.
- Keep your door open. THIS!!!! I always kept my door open and boy am I glad I did. By leaving your door open you are creating a more open environment on your floor and it really makes a difference. My whole entire floor is like a big, sassy and dysfunctional family because of how open we were during the first couple weeks. We went to eat together, had movie nights, and always invited everyone. By establishing this relationship early, we were able to have a comfortable living environment for the rest of the year.
- Go to class. You pay thousands of dollars a semester for these courses so just go. When you calculate it out, an hour of class is about $50-100. So don't waste that by staying in bed doing nothing productive! And believe it or not, you actually learn things in class so it is kinda useful when it comes to exams and papers :)
- If you're sick, don't go anywhere. When you are feeling ill, nobody wants you to go to class and neither do you. Just email your professors, it is okay to miss class and they understand.
- Actually read your textbooks. Those things are hella expensive you why not actually put them to good use? Your professor assumes that you are keeping up with reading and does not always cover everything in class. You are able to have a larger and broader understanding of the material and will be way more prepared for an exam. The text also may explain things in a different way that you can understand better.
- Get out of your dorm. Study in a new place, go for a walk, just don't stay confined in that tiny box.
- You have the power to pick your friends. If you find yourself two months into school with a group of friends that you don't really fit into... good news! You have the power to change that! Whether they are a bad influence on you, way too active for your liking, too lazy, go out too much or not enough, you have the power! All you gotta do is stop hanging out with them as much and go in search for people who are like you. You can do this by sitting somewhere new in class, joining a club, volunteering, joining a classmate at lunch, just get out there and be yourself. The ideal friends will come, I promise you.
- Nobody cares if you drink or not. Literally it does not matter if you chose to drink. People respect your decision and actually applaud you. The only people that will give you a hard time for not drinking are the super wasted white b*tches but they won't even remember a thing the next day so who cares. Trust me, college parties are not like in the movies, if you chose not drink, you do you. Be confident and nobody will tear you down. But if you do chose to drink, please don't be those basic white girls who have to promote themselves and let the entire world know that they have had a shot by being annoying as f***.
- Take a personal day. In college, you are constantly surrounded by other people. When you gotta pee you are bound to see someone in the hall or in the bathroom. To eat you have to go to the cafeteria filled with students. For some people this is all overwhelming. Constantly being with other people can be quite exhausting. So do yourself a favor and take a day off from everything. Isolate yourself. Go for a walk and find a place to sit and write, or draw or listen to music. Or simply lock yourself in your room and have a Netflix marathon by yourself with a bowl of popcorn. You will thank yourself later, you need a break sometimes.
- Be yourself. Yeah yeah I know that everyone tells you that, but boy is it true. When you act true to you, things will fall into place. Don't try to be someone other than yourself. If you aren't a partier, don't try and go to every party possible, you'll make yourself miserable and you will probably meet people with very limited similarities.
- Explore yourself. College is most definitely an eye opener. Your limits are tested and you figure out so much about yourself and the world. Take this time to find out who you are, who you want to be and what your purpose is.
- Be respectful. I know this has been a rule since we started kindergarten but it is a very necessary rule for college students. You would think that since you're in college being respectful should be automatic right? Well, not necessarily. The biggest issue I have seen with respect has been in the dorms. You're living with another person, be mindful of them and their schedule, just don't be rude. If they're studying don't bring friends over. If they're sleeping, leave the lights off and please don't make a bunch of noise. You also probably will share a bathroom with at least 15 other people. So please be mindful and clean up after yourself, okay? You are doing everyone a favor.
- Go to school events. It is something to do! And a lot of the time, events are free for students.. and college students really learn the value of "free". Take advantage of all the games, matches, events, shows and performances. It gets you out and involved.
- Have someone who you can count on. To me, this is the most important tip I can give. Developing a relationship with one or two people that is strong enough to help you get through hard times is essential. It may take a day, a week or a few months to find those people, but one you find them... it is a great feeling. Having that support system of friends up here has gotten me through meltdowns, panic attacks, last minute papers, major changes and late night cramming. You know who you are, thank you for making freshman year unforgettable. :)
An to all of you current high school seniors... congratulations. You made it. Twelve years of hard work and four years of hell. You should be proud. Make sure to go back and thank the teachers who have made a difference for you. They will be very grateful. Also, make these last few weeks or days count, time is flying and you are growing up. Also take time this summer to spend time with your family and closest friends.