It was two short years ago that I was moving from Texas to “Yankee territory” as a college freshman. Almost 2,000 miles from home, my goodbye was filled with unexpected waterworks from not only my Dad, an emotional man and frequent crier, but also from my thick-skinned mother and 16-year-old brother. While I was sad to leave my family, the first year of my college career would turn out to be an unexpectedly defining time for myself.
Now heading into my junior year, I care to tell you things I wish I had known when I was a little fish in this vast and treacherous sea of college.1. Your friend group will change throughout college. The first week of orientation is filled with tons of kids desperate for new friends. Everyone is nice and cheery and you’ll feel like you will be friends with everyone forever. This ain’t the case, kiddos. As the weeks continue, you will start to see the various sides of your peers and will realize that you may not be getting along as well with that chick you became besties with on your first day.
2. Offer your dorm mates food. I mean, who doesn’t love food? My parents left me a bucket of KFC fried chicken after they departed, and I went around my dorm asking kids if they wanted some chow. Some dug right in and others laughed (with me and at me). People ate it up!
3. If available, join activities before orientation. My school had a service-immersion program where we learned about the community in which we would be residing for the next four years, and got to volunteer in multiple organizations throughout the neighborhood. I met some amazing people within my group, one of them who is now my best friend. These programs are a great way to meet people before you have to go through the awkward orientation icebreakers.
4. Enjoy the thrill of moving into a new dorm now. It will not last. I cannot emphasize to y’all enough how stressful moving in and out is, especially when you don’t live close to home and don’t have family to help you. Your friends will want to burn your belongings after you’ve asked them for the thousandth time to help you move, and replacing the 50 pictures of you and your closest friends back on your wall is dreadful. Moving in the first time was exhilarating. Moving in the third time is painful (especially on your back).
5. Brace yourself for every kind of future roommate. After choosing the “random roommate” option at my school freshman year, I was not prepared for a straight-up denied hug and sheer silence when I arrived. Another friend chose her roommate through Facebook beforehand, and soon realized that not everyone is as awesome as his or her FB photos suggest. You’ll either gain a great friend or a great story.
6. Know that laundry rooms are a dangerous place. Laundry has gotta be done: for some it’s once every week, for others it’s once every semester. You will meet (or be forced to talk to) some strange people in the laundry room. Some will be sitting on top of the washers, creepily eyeing your bras and underwear as you quickly throw them into the dryer. Others will be playing guitar as loud as they can, waiting for you to compliment them on their latest ballad. Sometimes your laundry will not be there when you return, other times it will be strewn across the floor. Shit goes down in laundry rooms.
7. You can play hard, but make sure you work harder. Don’t lose sight of your schoolwork. Being “independent” now does not mean that you should ditch your class reading for that frat party on Wednesday night. You’ll regret it. Believe me.
So there you have it: my advice for all you incoming freshmen. As the summer is coming to an end, friends and family will be telling you the next four years will be the “time of your life.” Usually, this phrase is connected to the boundless fun you’ll be participating in. While you will be having a blast, I’m sure, this “time of your life” can also refer to the four years that will transform you as an individual. I look back at my freshman self in high school, and have trouble recognizing the super shy brace-face I used to be. This experience will be the time that you begin to figure out who you are and where you belong in this world.
Do yourself a favor and embrace this change, because this moment in your life will fly by faster than your feet will after sprinting from the laundry room.
Contact the author of this post at Daley@TheFrisky.com.