Greetings from college
If you had asked me one year ago what I would like to be doing in July of 2017 I probably would’ve responded with a snarky statement about how I wouldn’t care where in the world I was, as long is it was far away from the kitchen of Cheeky Taqueria where I worked long hours and probably ended up with more grease and beer stains on my jeans than I did dollars in my checking account.
If I had not been an insufferable P.I.A. and answered you earnestly, I probably would’ve said hanging out with my friends at night after a long day of making money doing who knows what, trying to get as much cash as possible before we all left to begin a new chapter of our lives in Athens as students at the University of Georgia.
However, an odd thing happened between last summer and now. As the old cliche goes, life got in the way.
In an event that very much came to my surprise, I was accepted into my top choice of schools, Georgia Tech. In an event that came as EVEN MORE of a surprise, I learned that I had to report to campus for classes not in the fall like (what seemed to me) every other incoming freshmen in the country, but two weeks after our high school graduation in June.
With a feeling that can only be described as “every single emotion at once”, I arrived on campus on June 12th to move in to my dorm room for the summer semester and stay for orientation which would take place over the course of the next few days. My two classes would last for a total of six weeks and would begin the following on June 21st.
Oddly enough, the one thing that finally calmed my nerves and settled my anxieties about living on my own (albeit forty minutes down the highway) and starting college was the beginning of classes. The way I see it, once you’re forced onto a set schedule and you begin to focus on the tasks at hand instead of constantly thinking about how your adolescence is as gone as Shia Labeouf’s chances at ever landing a major film role, it becomes much easier to adjust to your new surroundings.
Since I have only been a semi-functioning adult for around five weeks now, I clearly still have many things to learn about what it means to live on your own and how to make it in a college environment that, no matter where you are going to school, is much more difficult to achieve success in than in 9th-12th grades.
Despite this short time frame, that still means that I will go into the fall semester with a month and a half head start on many of you who are hopefully reading this blog. With my experience comes a certain level of wisdom. Although it is admittedly not a very large amount of wisdom, it is wisdom nonetheless and I would like to take this time to share some of my invaluable life experiences with you so as to save you stress and help you out in general once the fall semester rolls around.
First, lets talk about residence halls. If you’re fortunate like I have been for this summer and get to live in a building that has been renovated since 2012, congrats. I’m sure we will all commend you for your sacrifice of living in a place with clean bathrooms, painted walls, and rooms where both lights work and the beds don’t feel like they were stolen from the props department for the live action Flinstone’s Movie. If you are like the rest of us who will eventually have to live in not so ritzy conditions, just know that you are not alone and in fact many of the relationships you build early on in college are centered around your struggle for survival in your dorm from Hell.
A major part of living in a dorm is also the ever popular roommate. From what I have been able to tell so far is as long as the two, or four if you decided to go that awful route, can stay out of each other’s way and show mutual respect towards one another everything will be smooth sailing. You don’t always have to be friends with them but if can both coexist in a room without killing each other you should be just fine.
One other major key to the college experience is of course the dining halls. Let me tell you, for the first week or two while you’re on campus, trips to the dining hall are probably the most exciting thing you’ll do during the day. There are so many options and different foods to choose from that you begin to think that there’s no way this set up will ever grow old.
Spoiler Alert: it does.
Around the second week you begin to notice that all the varieties you thought were endless were actually just a carbon copy of what you ate previously, the ice cream machine begins to lose its novelty, and the noise of the waffle maker begins to make you shudder every time you hear its beep. Long story short, make sure you always know where the nearest restaurants and grocery stores are.
As far as other things are concerned there really isn’t too much to add so far. Keep your dorm room door open at all times when you’re not doing work (or anything else private for that matter). You’d be surprised how many people you can meet by just having them walk by. In class, make sure to always be paying attention and soaking up as much information as you can. Not only are most professors wildly interesting but you may learn a thing or two as well. Also, don’t be afraid of any single class. It’s nothing you can’t handle. If the school didn’t think you could succeed they wouldn’t have let you in. Keep yourself as healthy and as active as you can as a way to keep your body mentally and physically sharp.
Finally, take this newfound freedom of yours and use it to discover things that you never thought were possible. Talk to new people, read books, go and explore the town your in and discover all it has to offer. From what I can tell so far, college isn’t just a place where you spend four years and end up with a fancy piece of paper with your name on it, but also a place where you’ll get to make connections and discoveries that will shape you into who you are for the rest of your life.
I know that in my short time here I’ve already talked to more people from places I’ve never heard of than at any other point in my life. I’ve also learned things about the world around me and myself that I never knew before and probably never would have learned had I not gone out on my own.
And I can’t wait for all of you to do the same.