My first year of college at the University of Georgia is finally over! I say this enthusiastically along with a sigh of relief.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my freshmen year at all, and college has proved to be far better than high school. There’s always something going on, and there’s a pizza place on every corner. Who wouldn’t love that?
However, this past year was the first time in my life when I didn’t know who was who and where anything was.
My entire life was spent right here in coastal Georgia. I went to school with the same people from elementary school to high school, I go out on the boat no less than a handful of times during the summer, and I know the difference between a tourist trap and a genuinely good restaurant in Savannah.
When I relocated to Athens, which is about 4 hours away from Savannah, none of that acquired coastal Savannah area knowledge would be of any use to me.
Only knowing a few people from my high school – Liberty County High School isn’t a big feeder for UGA – and being without a car and quite a distance away from my family to receive any help, it was up to me and only me to figure out the ropes, the tethered and worn down ropes that if I even tugged or climbed on the wrong way, I would fall flat on my face.
Yes, there were a couple of times when I fell on my face – even literally – and it’s because I didn’t know how to adjust to my new life in my new environment beforehand. So here goes a list of all the mistakes I made during my first year of college.
1. Don’t take your whole wardrobe with you. If other college dorms are anything like UGA’s dorms, which are basically the size of a closet space, then just imagine me trying to fit my excessive amount of clothes the even smaller closet of my closet space. It didn’t work out, and in the end, most of my clothes claimed whatever space was left on the floor. Did I really need all of those clothes at once? Probably not. Eventually I became so lazy that I just wore whatever I slept in that night, especially during finals week, so I’m sure there were some clothing items that never were worn that entire school year.
2. Learn your dining halls. It is important to learn what food they serve, what time they get annoyingly busy, and which one is easier to get to. At UGA, we had five dining hall options on our meal plan. My first semester was spent going wherever my roommate and me decided because I was too scared to eat alone. What we quickly learned was that all the dining halls get ridiculously busy close to closing time. All college students are night owls, which means they eat late dinners, as well. When trying to get dinner around 7, I impatiently waited in a line that was out the door, and when I finally got in, most of the food was all gone. I will add that college cafeteria food is better than high school cafeteria food, but it’s still cafeteria food. Luckily I was able to find my favorite dining hall because of pizza, which only 2 of the 5 happened to serve. But most importantly, proximity matters. In Athens, there is no such thing as flat ground, so this Savannah native tired out pretty easily (although it’s mostly due to me being out of shape). If I could avoid walking as much as possible, I was okay with eating something not as tasty in exchange for not as sweaty Katelyn.
3. Don’t brag about your high school accomplishments. It didn’t get me anywhere talking about my Editor-in-Chief position on the Yearbook Committee or that I interned with the local newspaper. With around 30,000 undergraduate students at UGA, there were probably several other students who achieved the same things I did in high school. We all got accepted into UGA for those same reasons. My ego from high school wore off once I realized that other students at UGA were just as smart or smarter than me.
4. You actually need to study. Back in high school, I was one of those students who never needed to study. During my adjustment to college life, I still had this mindset. It wasn’t until I got back one of my German tests, a 71, and I began to panic. Although I didn’t appreciate it at that moment, my teacher making me go to tutoring was probably the most helpful thing he could have done. Studying, especially on my own, can be quite difficult knowing that I could be doing something more enjoyable, like playing Candy Crush on my phone or binge watching House of Cards. My tutoring sessions were much smaller than class and more personal, and the best thing was that it was free! Unfortunately not all of my professors required me to do tutoring sessions, so it was hard to make myself go. If I would have gone to the tutor sessions my classes offered, though, they would have been free of charge. It turns out that my school has all kinds of free tutoring, I just have to be motivated enough to go find them.
5. Making real friends takes time. The hardest thing about this year was not knowing anyone. When I lived at home, I loved my alone time, but I always had friends and family there when I was done being a hermit. The alone time I experienced for the first few weeks – which wasn’t really alone time when I had someone sleeping directly 10 feet away from me – was kind of nice because I was usually tired from adjusting to my class schedule. After those few weeks, though, I grew tired of sitting in my room, and for the first time in my life, I felt lonely. However, my hermit personality could not help me make friends. I thought something was wrong with me. It had to be me, right? I figured I was being too judgmental, especially to the fraternity and sorority students who I just assumed were probably snobby spoiled brats because they could afford to pay a $400+ monthly fee in exchange of stripping themselves completely of individuality. It wasn’t until my roommate turned our room into a Delta Gamma shrine that I realized that I would never get along with girls like that, so I should keep on feeling the way I feel about them, and the right friends will come along. I’ve made one solid friend, and as sad as that may sound, I’m happy about it. She listens to weird music and loves food more than anything else, so we obviously click. If actually liking my friends means waiting, then I’ll stay positive and look forward to my future college experience, which will get better. I’m sure of it.
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