lysa-85You’re probably wondering why the title of my blog is “thriving” first semester rather than “surviving” first semester. Well, that’s because a dean at my college once told me, that college is not merely about doing what you have to do just to get by or in other words, just surviving, it’s about thriving in a place that you can truly call your own.

Upon the end of my first semester of college, I’ve realized that with greater freedom, comes much more responsibility. In college, there’s no one there to hold your hand or tell you what to do or what not to do. While this may seem appealing, at times it can be difficult. Being so far away from home I’ve grown much more independent and learned just how essential time management is! Think about it: everyday, we each have the same amount of time handed to us. However, how we each utilize our time varies significantly. While some people spend their day “thinking,” others spend it by “doing.” Learning to balance everything you must do is the key. Yet, this is not always easy. So my advice to you is to always place all of your attention into whatever you are doing at the moment. There will always be distractions to get you off track in life, but one of the most important lessons college has taught me is that if you work hard when it’s time to work, and relax when you have the time to indulge in other activities, you can successfully survive the temptations of a college surrounding. It’s so easy to walk out of your dorm room and become engrossed in some kind of conversation in a nearby common room, or to want to take “breaks” in between assignments. With this method, one thing leads to another, and eventually NOTHING seems to get accomplished.

This semester has also taught me that not everything in life will just be handed to you. Specifically, college is a melting pot, and everyone is nervous when they first arrive. Therefore, not everyone may seem approachable at first or as friendly as you may like. It may be up to you to introduce yourself to your dormmates or classmates. Don’t be afraid to get to know the people you will be sitting in classes and living with for a whole year! Afterall, NO ONE can make it through college alone! Everyone needs someone, it’s just that the “someone” you may need may not be the first person to approach you on move in day. So, take a chance, and make it a point to get to know people as soon as possible: it will make your college experience that much easier and more enjoyable.

Furthermore, I’ve learned that it’s okay to miss home. Everyone starts to feel a bit homesick their first semester of college, even if it doesn’t seem like it on the surface. No one can tell you how hard it will be to so far from home, and no one can truly prepare you  for the emotions you may feel your first few months of college. It can be a roller coaster. I even questioned if Williams was just too far from home for me, and maybe what I thought may be just  be what I needed, wasn’t. I really missed home, my friends, family, and my boyfriend. It’s not easy to maintain friendships or a relationship living more than 1300 miles away from home.  But, I know now  that it’s normal to feel out  of place at first, or like you’re missing something back home. It took me a long time to realize that I truly could make Williams my home if I just allowed myself to open up to people and to college life in general. So, I promise you…. YOU WILL SURVIVE FIRST SEMESTER….even though, at times it truly seems like there’s NO WAY POSSIBLE that you will make it out of finals week alive.

Most people will tell you, college is exhausting. THAT IS VERY TRUE. But finishing first semester was one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of my life. Yes, you will probably  pull at least one all nighter your first semester of college, but that’s what makes college memorable. It’s the staying up late, the bonds made with your roommates, the stressful weeks that make each weekend worthwhile, the trips to breakfast and dinner where we all gather around to swap stories, the weekly laundry run, where no washers or dryers are left empty for you to actually do laundry, late night snacks, caffeine rushes, “crunch time”, and the most important lesson of all: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Whatever you’re feeling, someone else their first year, has felt that very same thing. Each of you will survive your first semester of college differently, but once you complete it, you will find yourself gradually growing up,and realizing your place in the world. And that itself, is the true meaning of an education, to find your place within society; looking back one day on all the memories you made along the way.

BEST OF LUCK to all of you who are finishing up your college applications! I will posting again soon, about a unique program Williams offers its students during the month of January, as I head back to campus January 3rd. HAPPY NEW YEAR!