I am a first-year university student at Rutgers University. In just a couple of months, so much has happened. Now that I have officially completed my first semester of college, it is time to stop and reflect.
My first semester flew by so quickly, and I can happily say that it went better than I could have ever imagined.
A Learning Curve
I came into college excited, scared, anxious… as it seems most freshmen do. And I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot to worry about: moving away from your family and friends and everything you have ever known, creating your own schedule, meeting new people and making friends. Before school started, while I was scared to death about not finding my people and not finding the right organizations and classes to join, I channeled all of my energy into shopping for room decor and messaging my future roommate about rug sizes.
I was somewhat prepared by the more than plenty of cliches I have been told about by those who came before me. Advice such as “college is what you make of it” and “put yourself out there” kind of prepared me for what was coming, but cliches like these are hard to visualize until you have experienced it yourself.
Armed with friends’ advice and the advice of college bloggers and YouTubers alike, I strutted into my crusty little dorm and waited for my life to completely change. But that didn’t really happen.
For the first couple of days, I was overwhelmed by the amount of excitement everyone had for literally everything. I realized that even though some people seemed like they were put together, everyone else was the exact same mix of excited and anxious that I was.
For that first month of college, I really took the “put yourself out there” advice to heart and went to literally every event that I was even remotely interested in. My Google calendar was so packed for the month of September that I was going to classes all day and then two or three club events every single day. Though exhausting, that month really allowed me to explore what Rutgers has to offer and adjust for a sustainable schedule for the rest of the semester.
I think after the first month was when I really started to establish a rhythm for daily life. I learned a lot about myself. I realized what I like and what I didn’t like. I found a group of friends who I admire and respect each in their own individual ways to push me academically and otherwise, and I think they really helped to enhance my college experience because we would make each other accomplish more and accomplish it better.
I came into college with a list of things I wanted to do in my first year of school here. The list covered specific organizations I wanted to join, positions I wanted to hold in certain groups, and friends that I wanted to make. I recently looked back on that list and am grateful that I didn’t actually stick to that list. I basically didn’t accomplish anything on my list from the start of the year, but I ended up doing different things and actually, in my opinion, much more than I thought I would in the first semester. What I’m trying to say is, I think it’s actually better to come into college open-minded and down to whatever opportunity comes your way.
The Dorm Life
First of all, after watching so many College Move-In videos and Room Tour videos on YouTube, I thought that my room was going to be my absolute sanctuary and that I had to decorate it like so. Over the summer, I planned the layout of my future dorm room and coordinated a shopping list with my roommate about decor and what we each needed to bring. Though I still put some effort into decorating my room, I’m glad I didn’t go all out like many of the YouTubers that I watched on YouTube. I found that I didn’t actually end up spending that much time in my room but rather out and about the campus. Actually, during the first month of exploring, I forced myself to basically not go back to my room except to sleep in order to actually go out and explore. So many things are happening literally all the time at college and you miss it if you’re locked up in your room (which isn’t even air-conditioned!).
What I wasn’t expecting was to get hit with what’s known as the “freshman plague”… twice! Twice in one semester! Crazy. In high school, I had only been so sick that I absolutely needed to go to the doctor twice in four years. In college, I had to go to my doctor twice in order to be prescribed antibiotics. I kept my stuff clean and Cloroxed all my stuff literally every day, but the freshman plague does not discriminate. Sharing a space with all these different people takes a toll on you and your immune system (I have a weak one too).
That brings me to my next point. Living with people on a college campus gets LOUD. From police car sirens to people yelling in the lounge to fire alarms at 3 AM, the college dorm situation is kind of hectic. I think I’ve gotten used to it mostly, but for those nights that I can’t handle it, I’ve invested in some earplugs 🙂
Speaking of hectic, living next to frat row is convenient in terms of a social life and partying. Personally, I don’t party heavily like a lot of the Rutgers undergraduate population does, but I think it’s great as long as you can control yourself and maintain a balance.
What I’ve Learned in My First Semester
Through just a couple of classes, I’ve realized what I like to do and what I don’t like to do. More specifically, I realized that I like the more technical aspect of courses than the theoretical and subjective parts of academics. Personally, I’ve learned that I like to learn about more objective things in courses and then applying the skills I’ve learned and developing my business skills through clubs, organizations, and competitions.
- Opportunities are plentiful, you just have to go find them because they won’t come to find you if you don’t put yourself out there.
- Time management is essential. Unlike high school, no one else will share a schedule even remotely similar to yours. It is up to you to do what you need to do. Google Calendar is now literally like my personal assistant.
- There are all kinds of people in college. Surround yourself with people who both support you and inspire you.
Unfortunately, there’s so much more to my first semester than I can fit into this post. That’s just how much happened! I can attest that the cliches I’ve always been told are very true. It’s hard to explain exactly what college is like because it’s so different for everyone, but that’s also the beauty of it! After all, “college is what you make of it”, and I love what I was able to make of my first semester but even more than that, I’m excited to see what I make of the next seven semesters.