You're probably going to hate it here (at first): A Letter to Freshman

Freshman year of college is an especially formative time for personality development. Growing up, identity is tied to your role in the family unit. Away from home, you can finally begin to discover who you truly are. The first two to six weeks of college can be a difficult and rewarding time, but only if you stick around to experience it. It’s only natural to miss the familiarity of home, but to make the most out of your freshman year spend the first six weeks, and weekends, at school. 

A 2010 study by Perdue University shows students who spend more time involved in their campus community are more likely to graduate. Plus, you’re not going to be able to make new friends if you’re home on the weekends.

Starting college feels like riding an emotional rollercoaster but finding a group to lean on can help combat homesickness. Going Greek, joining a new club or team, or even making a group of friends from your residence hall will help you feel involved fast.

It’s normal to miss home; you won’t be the only one who does. Embrace that! Know that you can always go back there if you’re ever in need. Your next mission? Make UNA your home. It’s the most effective way to get over the beginning college blues.

Think of this step in your life like ripping off a band aid. If you continue to go home every weekend, you miss it more. You want to keep going back. You’re slowly peeling off the band aid. Not going home rips it right off. It shocks the system. There’s no easy way around this. Either way, it’s going to hurt, but one hurts longer and draws out the process.

At first glance, six weeks feels like an eternity but when you allow yourself to get swept up in the college experience time will start flying by in a flash. If you realize after few weeks you don’t really click with the people you’ve been hanging around, make new friends. It’s perfectly normal to find yourself surrounded by different people at the end of school than the beginning.

I’ll tell you a secret: college doesn’t start off very fun. You’ve been told your entire life “these are the best years of your life!” Most of the time, people who tell you this are remembering their sophomore or junior years. The freshman heartache from moving away has been pushed out of their mind by the good times with good friends that they made by sticking around. 

I spent my first few weeks eating alone, feeling alone, crying, then calling my family. Even though I knew everyone else was in a similar boat, I struggled to make friends I felt connected to. The choice I was faced with left me two options. I could spend the rest of the semester miserable, or I could go out for anything that interested me and see what stuck. My own experience with sorority recruitment had left me disenchanted so what else did I have to lose?

At times, it felt like I was the only one struggling to find my place. Social media made my friend’s lives look near perfect, but a quick phone call or text revealed they too struggled just as much. Stop believing everything you see Instagram, but more importantly, stop letting it make you feel inferior. Everyone progresses at their own pace: life is not a race.

My best advice to incoming freshman? Don’t give up. Had I thrown in the towel and moved home the second the going got tough, I would have missed out on some of the best times with my best friends. Go to The Big Deal, Playfair, Movie Nights, First Fridays, or anything that’ll get you out of your room. If no one invites you? Good. Knock on your neighbor’s door. Make a new friend. Be proud of yourself for trying. It’s hard, but just be patient. You’ll end up exactly where you belong.

These next few weeks when you find yourself feeling down, picture yourself next year. You’ll be walking around campus, surrounded by your friends with smile on your face thinking “man, it sure is good to finally be home.”

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