Top Ten Things I Learned My Freshman Year At College

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As I sat in room 365 (the room I had lived in for the past 10 months) for the very last time as everything was being packed away, I thought about all I had learned and experienced just from my freshman year of college. I wrote down a list and this is what I came up with as the top ten things I had learned:

10. You will oversleep your alarm and it will be okay. 

Nothing is worse than setting an alarm for 8 for an 9am class and waking up at 8:45. I will be the first to admit that I slept through my alarm almost every other day. I always set it early so I could shower, finish homework, or just have extra time and not be rushed….but that never worked out. It seemed that no matter what time I set my alarm I was always rushing in the morning to get dressed and run across campus. Now, I never slept through a class, but my roommate did a few times. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays she had an 8am class while I had a 9am. A couple of times my alarm would go off at 8:15 and I would get up to start getting ready and I would look up and my roommate, Allie, was still in bed and she would frantically wake up and ask me what time it was. I thought it was going to be so bad if I woke up late or even slept through a class, but I soon learned that it was all going to be okay. Yes, you will not look the best or you will miss some classwork, but who cares? Sometimes you need to sacrifice some time waking up early to dress nice to just SLEEP. You will learn in college how valuable sleep is. So don’t worry if you sleep through your alarm. You will not regret it later in the day.

9. Nothing from high school matters. 

The first few weeks at college is all about meeting a lot of people and getting to know them. All the conversations have the usual “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?”, “What’s your major” questions. People will ask you what high school you went to and all about your life that you just left to be at college. You will tell them about your high school experience, but you will only tell them the main highlights such as if you played a sport, if you won any competitions, your best friends, and all your school spirit (Shout out to The LION NATION). After telling this story about 50 times, you begin to realize that those main highlights and big events that happened to you are really the only ones that matter. Those are what people want to hear about. They don’t care that the boy you like freshman year asked another girl out. They don’t care that sophomore year in your chemistry class you failed a test. They don’t care about that one girl that always talked bad about you behind your back, but always tried to act nice to you to your face. THEY DON”T CARE. You will start to realize that none of the little drama in high school matters at all. I wish I could go back and tell my high school self not to be stressed over school, boys, drama, or any little petty thing because at college, it doesn’t matter. Only a few people will care to really dig deep into your past. You do not need to broadcast your entire high school career to anyone and everyone that you meet. Do stress yourself over things you cannot control. Do not worry over the little things in high school because in the grand scheme of things, they won’t matter in 4 years.

8. No matter how good you think the cafe food is…it gets old really quick.

When I first started at ACU, I thought I had hit the JACKPOT because of their cafe (also known as the Bean). Seriously, it had 5 stations with different options at each. It had a sandwich line, a waffle maker out 24/7, a salad bar, and even an ice cream station. Going to camps and even the first few weeks at college I always found something different to eat and I thought I would never get tired of it. Welllllll, that quickly changed. The food started being repeated and it seemed like some days all the stations were really good and then for 3 days straight it would be TERRIBLE. One day it would be seafood with 2 sides, and then the next day it would be chicken with the same 2 sides. One day the rice would be really good and then they would have a different rice that just tasted so bad. The meat would be excessively salty or REALLY fatty. Another thing that was bad was the hours. The Bean would stop serving dinner at 7 and most times during season our soccer practices would not get over till 7 so we were left eating a sandwich every night or we would have to go somewhere else. Now granted not everyone had practices so this didn’t affect everyone, however if you were busy one night or made plans, you would have to make sure you went and ate before 7. I will never be ungrateful because I know that some schools have really bad cafeterias and the Bean is a high quality cafe for a college. However, just remember that even though you think your school may have the best cafe ever, you will get tired of it.

7. You cannot wait until the night before a test to start studying.

In high school, I never studied that hard for any tests. Most of the time I would just look over notes the nights before and I would be just fine. Let me just tell you that does not work in college. I learned that lesson hard and quick when I made a 60 on my first test. I thought it would be just like high school where I could look over something the night before, not really try and understand it and be just fine for the test. Now I have to start studying 4 or 5 days in advance or I will not be ready. I will applaud anyone who can study the night before in college and make straight A’s because I cannot. I believe you are a genius if you can do that. My roommate studies a week or more in advance. I also learned that in addition to doing the study guide, you actually have to look over and read the book. Who would have thought right? One class in particular, I just did the study guide and got a 70 and then for the next test I read the book as well and got an 85. You cannot complain that the teacher didn’t put something on the study guide that appeared on the test because 1. They don’t care and 2. They ask you if you read the book and then you have to shamefully say no and just walk away. College is all about GPA so you need to make sure you do not let your academics slip because you are out having fun every night. You will have to sacrifice some times with friends to go to study. It is inevitable. Don’t be afraid to go the library either. It will soon become your best friend and your second home. I never went first semester and I was basically in there all day second semester. It is not scary. I promise. You also might find yourself making A’s if you go (but that’s just what I heard).

6. Cherish the nights where you stay in on the weekend and do absolutely nothing with your friends.

When everyone imagines college they imagine going out every night with their friends and just having the time of their life. Now I am not the type of person to go to parties every weekend, but I was usually out every weekend (and sometimes week nights) till pretty late just doing anything we could find to do in Abilene. Playing putt putt, going to the movies, touring downtown at midnight, going dancing, and of course staying up at Whataburger till 2am. At ACU there is a rule that no boys are allowed in the dorm except on Thursdays from 6-11pm. So that means that if you wanted to hang out with boys you had to actually go out and do something. I think that the was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because you couldn’t just have guys over on a random night to just pop in a movie and hang out. A blessing because it forced you to get out of your dorm and go do something. It forced me to get out of bed and actually go hang out with guys. Most times it involved just driving around or going somewhere to sit, but it was always somewhere other than the dorm. We also had curfew every Sunday through Thursday at midnight and then no curfew Friday and Saturday night. Although it sounds bad, it wasn’t as bad as you might think. It was the nights getting back to the dorm at midnight and staying up all night with the girls down my hall. It was in those times that I really got to know each and everyone of them. I can specifically pick out 2 nights that I stayed in on a Friday and Saturday and did nothing with 2 of my friends. We literally sat in the room watched movies, danced around like idiots, and just made the best of every moment in my room. People may say that that sounds boring, but to me it was a night to remember. It taught me that you don’t always have to go out to have fun. Now yes, I did just say that when we hang out with boys we have to go out which was nice, but you CANNOT take for granted the nights spent in. Those nights that I spent inside hold a lot of memories. Do not feel like you have to go out to make the best of every night. You might just overlook what you have right under your nose.

5. You have to learn time management and you have to learn it quick.

College throws a lot of things at you all at once. Classes, being on your own, keeping up with your grades and money, a job, playing a sport, and anything else to ultimately stress you out. Im not going to lie, at the beginning you will feel overwhelmed and question if its all really worth it. You will miss home and you will feel like its all too much to handle. College forces you to learn how to manage your time from the get go. If you don’t, you will swallowed up by time and events. You have to learn and find the perfect balance of school work/hanging out with friends/managing a job/sport. For me personally, I played soccer and right from the start, we were gone every other weekend and I was missing every Thursday and Friday class. During the week I had class until 2 or 3 every day and then practice 4:30 till 7 and then I was trying to hang out with friends like every other regular college student was and trying to finish my homework for the night. It was A LOT to handle. I thought it was going to be easy to handle because I have been going to school and playing soccer for as long as I can remember, however I had my parents with me to help me do things so I could do homework or other priorities. Now I was on my own and I had to do it all. I can tell you that it is possible. I am alive to tell you YOU CAN DO IT. You have to find a schedule and routine that works for you and make smart choices. Learn to manage your time and relax. Do not let yourself be consumed by stress.

4. Never forget where you come from.

I am Mckinney, TX born and raised. I have lived in the same house for the past 19 years of my life. Mckinney is where I took my first steps. Mckinney is where I played my first soccer game. Mckinney is where I learned the value of family. Mckinney is where I first liked someone. Mckinney is where is I went through tragedy. Mckinney is my home. I would not change anything about the past 19 years in Mckinney. It is the perfect city to grow up in. It holds more memories than any place ever will. After going to college and being gone for so long, no matter how ready you said you were to leave, you will be ready to go back home. You meet so many people from all over and I take pride in telling people I am from Mckinney. Not many people know really where it is, but I love telling them all about it. I believe that in life you do have to move away from home and start to experience life on your own. You cannot be sheltered in your comfort zone of your hometown for your entire life. You have to go away and put yourself in an unfamiliar place, but never ever forget where you come from. Do not move away and leave everything behind. Leave the memories. Leave the good times. Leave the bad times. Remember all the things from home that made you the person you are today. Coming back from college for the first break is really weird. When you come back, your room is empty. However nothing else has really changed. Your parents are still there. Your high school is still standing. That park down the street is still filled with screams of little kids. Life has gone on without you there. It may seem that everything has changed, but then you begin to realize that it is YOU that has changed. Nothing from back home has changed. It is still the house that you grew up in. The road to your house is still the same. Life for kids still in high school who have not moved away yet is still going on. You feel something different though, and it is you. You have been gone away for a while that your life is different. You have a life away from your home now that nobody else can really understand. It is you that has changed. Your life at home is still there. Instead of going to your grandmas house and just hanging out, the conversation is now filled with 100’s of questions asking about your new life. As great as your new life may be, do not let go of your past. It has made you who you are. Also, make time to go home on a random weekend to see your parents. The look on their faces when you knock on the door is priceless and unforgettable.

3. Stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary. 

Going into college I was very shy. I’ve gotten the joke quite a few times that some of my friends thought that I didn’t talk when they first met me. In high school, I never really put myself out there. I had a few close friends and they were who I stuck to most of the time. I always had them to rely on and they were there for me 24/7. It scared me to think that I was going to have to go to college without them and make new friends on my own. Making friends isn’t scary to me at all, but being shy, I knew it would be awkward and hard for me at first. The minute you step onto campus, you will be swarmed with new faces. 99% of the people you talk to are new. I never really went out and did things or stayed out that late, so I knew I was in for quite the adventure in college. I made some friends however I always felt like I wasn’t wanted. I always felt like the tag along and that nobody wanted to really be my friend. All of my friends from the soccer team were quickly making friends and from that moment I knew I was going to have to step out of this shy, quiet world I was living in and put myself out there. For a long time I was living in my comfort zone of relying on other people to make plans or making someone else start the conversation with someone and at college I realized that I had to step out of that comfort zone. In order to make my own friends, I was going to have to stop being shy and put myself out there. Quickly, I noticed a different. I was making more friends and was finally feeling happy. I opened up to people and was truly trying to not be shy. Now yes, I am still kind of shy around new people, but I am not as shy as I used to be. With my current friends, I feel like I am myself. With them I can be as stupid and silly as I want and I feel like they are not judging me (I really hope not). It was a big step to leave my comfort zone, but it was totally worth it. I look back now on my freshman year and I know that if I had not tried to be less shy, I would not have some of the friends that I have now. Forget the risk, take the fall. If its meant to be, its worth it all. Do not be afraid to leave your safe zone. You will thank yourself later.

2. You will lose friends from back home.

Graduation is most likely the last time you will see everyone from your high school graduating class. Every one hangs out with their best friends during the summer trying to soak in every last minute they have with each other before they move hundreds of miles apart from each other. When you say your goodbyes it is normal to say “We will stay in touch! Nothing is going to change.” Well, I am the first to tell you that things do change. Unless a person is your VERY best friend or you talk EVERY single day, then things are going to change. You will not be that close anymore with that person. Nothing necessarily bad has happen, just distance can get in the way. Instead of seeing someone every day in the hallway or sitting 2 seats away in English class, it may be 3 months or more before you see that person again for maybe a couple of hours at a time. The texts will slowly die down. The calls will quickly fade. It is weird to look back and think that you were once so close with someone, but now just because you went to college, you hardly say anything to each other. You don’t see that person anymore. You make new friends. That person isn’t around anymore to know everything about your life. You can tell your old friends about thing that happen, but they won’t really get it because they don’t know anyone that you are talking about. I am not saying that you will lose touch with everyone because I still talk to a handful of people from high school however, you will not remain in touch with as many as you think. You are in a new place now. Your life is moving on without that person. Coming home from breaks you just hang out with your really close friends. It has been to long to have that awkward reunion with someone that you only knew through a friend of a friend. Don’t be tied down with friendships from back home. Allow yourself to make new best friends. If your friends from back home still care, they will still be there for you at the end of the day. You cannot take it personally if you don’t stay in touch with someone. You have to remember that they are making new friends too. College is about meeting new people and building new relationships. Don’t let every bridge burn from high school. Some friendships were meant to last and they will. People will come and go in and out of your life, and only the true friends will stay forever.

1. But, college brings you lifelong friends.

Although it is weird having to meet new people and it stinks having to let old friendships grow, as I look back on my freshman year at ACU, I know notice that I have made some pretty amazing friends that are going to last me a lifetime. I have made friends that at any hour of the night I know I can call and they will come pick me up to just talk. I have made friends that I can act completely stupid in front of and they will join in right next to me. I have made friends that accept me for the person that I am/am becoming and keep me on that path. I have friends that challenge me in my faith and have helped me grow closer to God. These friends are pretty amazing and I would not trade a single one of them for any other person. My new friends that I have made have been there and supported me in every decision I have made. I have found friends that will sit there and listen to me talk about the dumbest stuff and give me advice when I am struggling. I have found friends that when I am crying will just sit there in silence with me before praying. I have found friends that are amazing in different ways and their is something unique about each of them that I love. One of the coolest things, in my opinion, about making friends in college is seeing the different places people come from. Most of the friends I have made live super close to me so I am able to see them in the summer (my roommate is from San Antonio which is 5 hours from my house but I have already made plans to see her so its all good). I would have never known these people if it wasn’t for college. I can never thank God enough for placing these people in my life. My best friends that I have made at college are definitely sent straight from God. I can never thank these people for all they have done for me. They have made me a better person by them just being themselves. I want to thank all my friends for all the memories we made. Thank you for always hanging out with me and going on adventures with me. Thank you for exploring and trying new things with me. I seriously could go on forever about my friends. They truly are amazing. It might be a little biased to say, but I think I have the BEST friends ever. I could not imagine my freshman year without a single one of them. Do not be afraid to make new friends. Your old friends will still be there for you if you allow them too. Do not be afraid to go all in on a new relationship. Open up to people quick and let them see the real you. The people you meet in college just might turn into your bridesmaids/groomsmen or even your husband/wife one day. I cannot wait to see where my friendships take me throughout the rest of college. I know for a fact I will have these friends right by my side forever. I love each and every single one of y’all so much.

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3 comments

  1. spencefried · May 11, 2014

    I just finished my freshman year too!

  2. sexandthecincy · May 11, 2014

    Wise words…

  3. Tate · May 13, 2014

    Natalie, well said! Thank you for writing. I have really enjoyed reading up on your opinions of life at ACU. Hope all is well in your world, sounds like you are doing great!

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