The night before I moved into college for my freshman year, I slept for two hours. I tossed and turned in my Boston hotel room for the duration of the night, awaiting the beginning of this new adventure and contemplating all of the possible outcomes- would I make friends? How would I perform academically? Would I get along with my roommate? The amount of unanswerable questions swirling around in my head made my palms sweaty. If you’re reading this as a rising freshman in college, and are anxiously counting down the days until your move-in day, you may have some similar questions- and not a whole lot of answers. I wasn’t able to get a lot of answers, either, until I actually completed the entirety of my freshman year at Emerson College. I was certainly told a lot of things and set a lot of expectations for what my year would look like, but some expectations did not hold true. Here are some of the things I wasn’t told about what to expect in your first semester of college, and some false expectations.
You won’t meet your best friends your first week of college-or, you might.
Every single person I knew told me I wouldn’t meet my best friends during my first week of college. However, the first week (which was Orientation week), I ended up meeting some of the people I’ve been closest with during my time at school. We attended one of the orientation week events and went to Insomnia Cookies together afterwards- and the rest was history! Try not to set the expectation that you won’t cross paths with some brilliant people in your first few moments of school. Recognize positive traits and similar interests in the people around you, because they might end up being the ones you do everything with during your first semester of college.
College orientation is exhausting-and that’s normal.
If you’re an introverted extrovert like me, socializing with hundreds of people for an entire week was one of the most tiring things I’ve ever experienced. I thought to myself, “Is it normal that I feel like this? Does anyone else feel like this?” Although it may not seem like it, many other people feel the same way! Meet a few people and make sure that you take time for yourself as needed during this period. You’ll have plenty of time to meet people throughout the year!
Self-care is not only important, but necessary.
First semester can be be extremely intense. You’re settling into a new place, building relationships, balancing academia and activities, learning how to properly digest dining hall food… all at once. Let’s just admit it- it’s tiring! Taking time for yourself is just as important as all of these other things. Drink lots of water, do a face mask, skip the night out if you need it. Self care is never selfish in your first semester of college.
Making friends might not be as easy as it seems.
The expectation that’s set for first year students is usually that you’re going to make so many really close friends in a short period of time! For some, this may absolutely hold true. But for many, forming meaningful bonds with complete strangers is easier said than done, and when these bonds didn’t come for me until second semester, I was left questioning the entirety of first semester- “Am I doing something wrong?” The answer: no! Meeting people takes time. Relationships don’t form overnight. Invite the person who seems interesting in class to lunch or coffee. Show appreciation for the friends you’ve made- quality over quantity!
Alone time is okay.
As much time as I was spending socializing with people, I was spending by myself. I wondered, “Should I be spending more time with others?” Independence sometimes means doing things on your own, which may mean occasionally going to the dining hall on your own or going to the grocery store by yourself. Try to enjoy this time by yourself! Listen to some music, and remind yourself that spending time with you and only you is sometimes even necessary. So if your first semester isn’t the best time of your life as you’ve expected, that is not only okay, but entirely normal. Enjoy the positive moments and take everything as a learning experience. Going through such an immense lifestyle change is sometimes daunting and difficult- but you are capable of conquering it!