seanna-85I wanted this piece to be especially powerful, since I can now say that my first semester of college is over.  I’m half-a-semester closer to sophomore year, and 12.5{53c6eff5ce19621f7316832cfedf08caab022021f1679c62c3f44b8900ceaf72} of my college undergraduate experience is over.  But I couldn’t determine what message would perfectly coalesce into what I want to express.  So in order to move past my creative writer’s block, I decided to do a three point “In-Retrospect-Guide” on outstanding factors of my freshman first semester.

1. College is about learning.

First week on campus = placement exams.  Second week on campus = class registration.  Throughout high school, I took many advanced placement courses, similar to the majority of the other students at Pomona.  And for some reason, a reoccurring statement that I heard after placement exams was, “I forgot all of that stuff during the exam, but I know that I can handle the honors level class.”  Personally, not only had I forgotten all of the stuff during the exam, but I was suddenly unsure of the fact that I’d ever known it.  In fact, I started thinking that admissions had made a mistake with letting me in.  OBVIOUSLY, I was not prepared for college. 

IN-RETROSPECT-#1-Breathe.  Not only was I ready for college, I settled into a groove of working and study habits that have allowed me to smile now that it is Christmas break.  Advanced courses in high school are wonderful classes to take in PREPARATION for college, but college classes are more difficult and may require different study techniques and habits.  That’s okay.  Learn what works for you, and be flexible until something clicks…I study for math in an entirely different way than I study for Latin…and that’s okay.

2. Getting involved provides community.  

Although this was not the best mindset to have at the beginning of school, sometimes I felt that undergraduate was a burden that I had to shoulder before I could return closer to home for medical or graduate school.  I was leaving behind friends and family for a great education, but I found myself breaking the year into four-month segments that I’d just “have to bear”. 

IN-RETROSPECT-#2-I was wrong.  Life at school developed into something incredible.  I made friends unlike any that I’d made before.  As an active member on Student Diversity Committee, I helped make decisions concerning campus climate. My intramural volleyball team placed 3rd, and the gym was not a legendary place for the “in-shape”. Although my friends and family remained at home, I was okay. I was happy. All in all, I was living life.

3. Life is still not perfect.

This was most likely the hardest lesson for me to learn and accept.  Despite the glamorous campus, amazing dining halls, nice-sized rooms, wonderful people, and remarkable classes…I still had down days.  I did occasionally get homesick.  Sometimes, I didn’t want to do homework.  Even worse…sometimes I was not enthralled with my seemingly endless to-do lists.  I just wanted a break. 

IN-RETROSPECT-#3-College life is still life.  With demands, stresses, and problems.  Although you may want to participate in a million interesting and extraordinary opportunities, an occasional nap may be more beneficial.  Allowing your initial experience of college to overburden your work load and cause excessive strain hurts one person-you.  Finding a balance is very important…perhaps one of the most important for this first semester.  And admitting that you are unhappy with something is also okay…that’s one reason many colleges provide sponsors and mentors.  Everyone wants your adjustment to college to be as smooth and enjoyable as possible.  There will be road bumps and obstacles, but understanding how to meet those head-on will eliminate their severity and possible future harm.

So on top of learning basic Latin, how to find angular diameter, and the reasoning behind Christian attacks on Jews in 1096…I also discovered the truth in these three small tidbits…and perhaps this post will help you keep them in mind, as well.  Happy Holidays!!