In my last post I talked about making this summer productive and fun. But what about once you arrive on campus? Even though you’ve prepared as much as you can the summer before, nothing can really prepare you for how you feel once you arrive and settle on campus. Being a first year is like any big life transition. It can also be emotionally tough. Although I am a transfer student going in my sophomore year, it still feels like my first year all over again. UCLA researchers reported that 95% of first year students feel overwhelmed.
College can be a wonderful time but it can also be a time where you feel alone, isolated and disappointed by the gap between expectation and reality.
I’ve kept this very private until now but my first year of college in New York City did not go well. In fact after one semester I dropped out because I felt that the school environment was not for me. I was drowning in misery. I felt like a failure because I never thought in a million years I would ever drop out of college. I worked so hard in high school and to travel all the way to America to drop out of college, I felt like a complete idiot. I also felt that I should have done my research and visit the campus before I made my decision. Please, if you are a senior in high school save yourself the trouble and go visit the campus before you finalize your decision. You never know what to expect once you visit. It is a game-changer and ultimately you will know if you are the right fit. I did not do that and I really regret that decision because it led me to dropping out. It was not their fault at all, but my parents had no idea how to support me emotionally when I was at college because they never went to college themselves. I was a first generation student and a complete newbie in America. But I never blame my family circumstances. I still get up everyday and do what I have to do in order to graduate. The minute I arrived in NYC, I found myself having to learn everything about college and AMERICA all at once.
From learning how to drive to figuring out what classes I should take, I was definitely scared and stressed.
I remember feeling so lonely & asking myself; “Wow is this how college is suppose to feel like?” I would see my friends posting pictures of their fun college life and I ended up crying myself to bed every night because I wondered what was wrong with me. But somehow I still made it and put myself through school. No matter how hard it is there is always a way. Just persevere until you find a solution and stick to it. If you’ve ever had a rough start to college I’m just letting you know it does get better. Even though I’m two years behind of where I should be in college I still made it through. Next month I start school and I am beyond excited and have two years left until I graduate! 🙂 The first year of college by nature is uncomfortable, scary for almost all students. If you are feeling like you have no friends and do not know the area well enough, well the other kids are probably feeling that too. If I could tell my 18 year old self how to prevent a rough start here is what I would say:
Make an effort to attend orientation.
- Whatever you do, you should go to the orientation. No matter how lazy and you tell yourself you can do this online, believe me you are wrong. Faculty, new students, old students are all there at your disposal. Take advantage of this time. This is the best place before school starts to meet new people, ask current students any questions and get to know your faculty in your department. Identify five people at the orientation and exchange contact information. This is a great way to bond with peers before the college and share what classes you’re taking. I went to my orientation three weeks ago and made three new friends. To my surprise we all had the same worries about college and just bonding together was nice because I didn’t feel alone afterwards.
- Want to get ahead? Look for people in the career department to hook you up with contacts. By going there in person and making a good impression to your peers and faculty you will feel happy that you’ve gained some knowledge. Networking is just as important as good grades so don’t be that person that regrets not going because they thought orientation was boring and not useful.
- Find a couple of clubs or places that you can do to enjoy and connect with people like minded like you. Do you like lifting? Join the school gym. Do you like art? Join the art club. There are plenty of clubs on campus. If there isn’t a club for your interest why not be the first one to create it? Above all, be patient, it can take a few semesters for you to get past the initial discomfort and once you get the routine of things college will be less stressful.
Unplug and live real life.
- Schedule a time to connect with family and friends on the phone rather than sms them all day. After school, during the evening is a great time. After you finish the conversation, turn off your phone 2 hours before bed. Use social media to stay updated, to initiate conversations with new people but after that try to connect with them in real life. Ask your new friends if they want to go for a jog, watch a cool movie or get boba 😛 College life is more than just having your head buried in social media. I know its tempting to go online because you’ll be spending more time alone, but that doesn’t mean your smartphone is your best friend. Find your best friend. For me, its the gym.
- You need to take care of yourself. Health is wealth. If you are not feeling well, there is simply no way to functioning at school or at work.
- Eat, sleep well, exercise: You’ve probably heard this from your Doctor or mother. This saying is true and it goes hand in hand with each other. If you don’t eat right, the first thing you might notice is your skin changing. If you don’t get enough rest you won’t be able to fully concentrate at school. If you don’t exercise, chances are your body & mood will fluctuate. Take action to take care of yourself.
- See Someone: If you want to get to a place where you’re like, “I can be happy with who I am” there are a lot of ways to do that. There are college counselors, and therapists online. It might be hard to get help in the beginning but it is surely rewarding when you make that first step. And for those people who don’t believe in therapy, don’t care about them. You know yourself better than anyone else and knowing that you need help is a brave step to a road of recovery or self discovery. I believe in therapy and I have done it numerous amount of times. It has changed and shaped the person that I am today. I have no regrets.
- Do what you love: Take art, drawing, cooking lessons whatever it is. You need to reward yourself. School isn’t everything. You deserve to make yourself a priority too.
Today I celebrate living in Los Angeles for one month 😛 Can you believe it! Time flies by so fast. There is always something to do here in this awesome city. Spending my Saturday night unboxing my Sur La Table kitchenware and planning what recipes I should cook next! Hehe if you know me well enough I am obsessed with kitchenware and stationary 😉 A big hug from me to you Bisous, Catherine