It's been about a month and a half since I officially finished my freshman year of college, and now I've come here to tell you all about it! (The photo above is of me the day after winter quarter finals. My roommate and I went on a hike in a field!)
College is way different than high school. First of all, I found it way more academically engaging (most of the classes I took in high school were forced upon me and not that interesting). I've learned so much in one year, especially about my art practice. Secondly, people are way friendlier. College is not at all cliquey the way high school is. I made a lot of friends this year and I'm looking forward to seeing them again in October.
Aside from being a place to learn and make friends, though, college was (and still is) a HUGE life transition for me, and for a lot of people. Going to college essentially means you gain both personal freedom, and personal responsibility. You become the sole influence on your own life. Which is great, but also super challenging. I basically had to learn how to take care of myself this year, both physically and mentally. Between having to make my own doctor's appointments, remembering to eat every day, making sure I spent a healthy amount of time doing things like studying, socializing, or cleaning my apartment, there was a LOT of stuff to learn this year.
Aside from being able to feed my basic needs, I was also put in a position where I had to make decisions like "Do I like these people, do I want to be friends with them? Do I like doing this? Do I care about that? Do I have time to do this?". This year became The Year of Extremely Busy, because I've found myself bouncing between friend groups, family, work, classwork, extracurriculars, and personal interests (which I have a LOT of).Time management skills have always been my forte, but this year, they were definitely put to the test.
My friends Carina and Theron with my dog Chilli on my bed in our room! (I brought my dog to college for a weekend)
On top of figuring out what and who to spend time on, I also started to realize I needed to be discerning about who I was hanging out with. Before going to college, I'd had the same two best friends for almost my entire life. I had other friends too, but those guys were my foundation, and with them around I didn't have to make a lot of conscious decisions about who to befriend, who to trust, how to open up to people, and so on. I made a lot more decisions like that this year, and I'm still getting the hang of it, but I have a few friends who I really love (like my roommate, Carina, who took the pictures of me up above at UCSC).
For me, college also became a huge mind-opening experience. Since I go to UCSC, which is a very liberal school, I learned SO MUCH about social issues, environmental issues, and all the different activism efforts to alleviate them. I even got involved with a few, especially Take Back the Tap! I'm going to be the campaign co-coordinator for UCSC next year, along with one of my friends. College is full of awesome opportunities to learn and get involved, and I'm really glad I took advantage of some of them. I took a class about activism and self-compassion, participated in an internship, and also helped plan UCSC's PRIDE festival. I also became more interested in and appreciative of nature, since UCSC is a beautiful campus.
Freshman year was a huge opportunity for growth, and there was so much to learn. And I'm still learning. That's the thing about life, it's a continuous process. And you get to have fun along the way :)
My housemates and I in our living room!
To those of you who are getting ready for your first year of college, I have a little bit of advice:
- Bring cleaning supplies (especially if you have an apartment like I did). Clorox wipes are your best friend. And laundry detergent!
- The classes are really not that hard as long as you study. You HAVE to study.
- Get involved with stuff! Go to events and activities, learn about campus organizations, and see which ones interest you
- Take at least one class that's just for fun or sounds really interesting even if it's outside your major
- Get to know people in the years above you. They know stuff.
- Do stuff around the town your college is in.
- A Costco card will not hurt you. Neither will a decent speaker.
- Set aside "you" time to check in with yourself once every couple days.
Good luck! You can do it!