Real Talk. 6 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year of College

It's more than getting your laundry done

Advice. Lessons learned. What to do. What not to do. Checklists and To-Do’s. Everyone has something to share, myself included. Honestly, it can’t hurt. I’ll take all the advice I can get. Doesn’t mean I’ll follow it, but worth a look, right? After completing my freshman year, I would like to bestow my wisdom to the upcoming college freshman who may be as anxious as I was about starting college.

The thought of living in a dorm away from your parents for 8 months with a bunch of other clueless freshman is terrifying. However, I promise it is not as bad as it sounds (although, dorms…).

My first year of college was an truly unique experience. I spent my first semester at the Syracuse University campus in Madrid, Spain and my second on Syracuse’s main campus in Syracuse, New York. As a result of study abroad and on campus experiences, I have learned some great lessons that helped me survive my the first year of college. Whether you’re going to college around the corner or out of the country, these 6 lessons will help you survive your freshman year.

Lesson #1: It’s ok to eat alone! 

When I first arrived to Syracuse’s main campus in January, I barely knew anyone there, which meant a lot of my lunches and dinners were eaten alone. For the first few weeks, I felt really awkward eating alone, and I always felt like everyone was judging me because I didn’t have tons of friends yet. It turns out, I was overthinking it.

No one cares if you’re eating by yourself, and you shouldn’t either. Eating alone is great, and it gives you time to enjoy your meal, focus on an assignment, or even catch up on a Netflix show that you’re binging. We all need time to ourselves, so the dining hall is the perfect place to grab a bite alone.

Losing an hour of sleep is better than losing your degree.

Lesson #2: Go to Lecture 

This may seem like an obvious thing to do while you’re in college, but once you’re actually there, you’ll understand how difficult it can be to get up for that 9 AM lecture. Once you get in the habit of not attending class it is hard to break it, so try to conquer the urge not to go. There are some grave consequences to not showing up to class. Professors can be masters of betrayal, and they will  assign pop-quizzes or attendance checks on the days that you happen to not be there. It is in your best interest to show up. Losing an hour of sleep is better than losing your degree.

Lesson #3: Procrastination is a disease 

Procrastination is an illness that affects you and your peers and causes you to do essays or study for huge exams at the last possible moment. My worst case of procrastination this year was writing a paper an hour before it was due. It was obviously a mistake, and it wasn’t worth the stress and anxiety.

Procrastination will add an unnecessary amount of stress to your life, and it can force you to be incredibly self-critical. Your best work will come from separating your work into chunks when the material is assigned. Give yourself a sufficient amount of time so you can turn in a great paper or kick your exam in the butt.

Lesson #4: Never go to a club or party alone 

Whether it be the seven-story club, Kapital, in Madrid, Spain or the Euclid house party at Syracuse, you should never go alone. These events always involve intoxicated young adults, which means you never know what could happen. It is always good to bring a buddy along. At the party, you should always keep a close eye on your friends and make sure they are safe. Make friends who will do the same for you.

If you go out with a friend, always leave with that friend.

If you go out with a friend, always leave with that friend. If you leave your friend alone, you never know what could happen to them. It is always better to be safe than sorry; you don’t want to have any regrets.

Lesson #5: Freshman Dorms are Gross

Unless you’re lucky and you are moving into an apartment-styled dorm with a personal bedroom and bathroom, you’re in for a mildly unpleasant stay. You will discover that the bathrooms can become atrocious. When you live in a building full of first-year students who are not used to living alone or cleaning their bathrooms, you are bound to see some things that you never imagined.

I lived in a building of over 600 freshman, so I can attest to bathroom atrocities. In order to prepare for this, always have Lysol wipes and spray ready in your shower caddy. Oh, and NEVER go into the bathroom without shower shoes on. You will regret it if you do.

Lesson #6: Take Advantage of Opportunities!

You’re not only in college to earn a degree, but to learn from the opportunities that are made available to you outside of the classroom. There are countless student organizations, department events, outing trips, and other offerings on every college campus. These opportunities give you the chance to learn about what you might want to do when you leave university, while also allowing you to network. These opportunities are also very fun, and give you a chance to meet other students who share the same passions and interests as you.

It is also necessary to take a break from your studies every once in a while, and getting involved is one way to do that. Whether it is listening to a guest lecture speak about intersectional feminism, traveling to Barcelona for a semester, or a attending a performance by the Asian Studies department, get your head out of your books and get involved!


Also published on Medium.

Tayla Myree is an undergraduate student at Syracuse University who is...