“…Oh great! So you’re in college? What school do you go to?”

“University of Rochester.”

“What year are you?”

“Freshman, er, I mean sophomore! Yes, I’m a rising sophomore.”

I couldn’t believe the words I uttered to my mom’s friend. Had an entire academic year come and gone so quickly? It seemed impossible. I could still taste the hot, humid, Rochester air I first encountered in August of last year.

But in all reality, an entire academic year has come and gone. And I can’t believe it. I think back to my experience as a first-generation college student having successfully completed his first year of college and only one regret is able to invade my mind: I didn’t take enough pictures. Time and time again I said, “Oh, I’ll take pictures of this later, I mean I’m here for a whole year. No big deal.” The fall foliage, the snow man I built, the dance performance I was part of, now all remain only in my head as cherished memories of my amazing first year of college.

My body changed. I gained about five pounds throughout the course of the year, so not too bad. I kept myself pretty fit by exercising regularly. My vision got worse, and I’m in the process of getting a new pair of glasses.

My habits transformed. I started going to bed at midnight and waking up at about eight in the morning. I set myself on a five meals-a-day diet rather than the traditional three meals-a-day to keep my metabolism active. I started procrastinating a lot more than usual and fortunately caught myself before it became a real issue.

But above all the changes that this first year of college brought me, none was more powerful than the intense change in the way I thought about…well…everything. Maybe it was the experience of having to be self-reliant, being thousands of miles away from home that did it. I had to cook my own food, file my own paperwork, schedule my own doctor’s appointments, buy my own groceries, etc. Or maybe it was the eye-opening lessons that courses like my philosophy class managed to drill into my head. I like to think that everyone has an existential crisis once-in-a-while. Whatever it was, all I know is that college changes you. And you don’t even realize it till after the change has been done.

It’s hard to describe, but I can assure you, it’s a good type of change. In fact, I think it may just be that little thing some people like to call: “growing up.”

With hopes & dreams intact,