Freshman Year Fears (And How to Really Conquer Them)

Let's face it: whether you're starting your first year at a state school just an hour away, or entering your first week as a fresher in a totally different country, taking that first step on campus- and into your new life- can be really scary.

Looking back on how I felt at this time last year, I can recall that I was dreadfully nervous on the inside, but seemingly excited when I spoke to family and friends about the new adventure I was about to embark upon. I had planned out my fresher's week events to a T, stuffed all of my clothes, bedding, and luggage into my brother's vacant room, and started a blog about my transition into college.

But, like all of the older, wiser second years out there, I can now see that there was so much I didn't know, expect, or properly prepare for in those weeks leading up to the big move. I really could've used some advice. And while there are thousands of resources out there that attempt to guide incoming freshmen, in this post I aim to give you the #realtalk version in which I express some of my biggest fears from last year, and try to give some genuine advice to all of you newcomers out there.

Me bein' a fresher.

Making new friends // One of the most common pieces of advice I've read regarding making new friends in college is that "the people you meet the first week won't be your best friends for the rest of the year." Isn't that just delightful? The truth is, the people you meet the first week might not be your best friends in the coming years- but that's really up to you! You get so many phone numbers at the time that it can be hard to keep up- but it's so important to keep in contact with anyone you seem to have a connection with in order to develop a friendship. Just like with dating, it might not always work out. But sometimes, you really do end up meeting your friends right off the bat! I mean, I met all three of my flatmates for next year during the first week of university. And, I met one of my closest friends during a jazz night at our student bar after just a few days at school. To make a long story short, this very friendly American guy started talking to me while I was waiting for my drink, and we found out we were both studying sociology. Fast forward to today, and we've grown incredibly close- not to mention he's let me store my stuff in his flat over this summer (if that's not true friendship, then I don't know what is).

Missing home // There's no question that you're going to miss home at some point during your first year of college. Whether it's your mom's home cooking, impromptu ice cream runs with your high school friends, or simply being in a place that feels comfortable- you're going to have some nights when you miss all of this. If I'm being honest, I didn't miss home as much as I expected I would, considering I go to school so far away. But the times when I did long for being back in my bed? Those pangs of homesickness almost always came when I was going through some sort of "crisis"- whether personal or academic. The best thing you can do for yourself in order to miss home less is to simply call your family (and friends!) regularly- it doesn't matter if it's every other day, once a week, or once a month. Just don't cut yourself off from your home life only to realize you need that comfort at the worst of times. Your family doesn't only want to hear from you when you're feeling sad about something or need more money- so make sure to call them up with good news every once in a while! 

Not bringing the right amount of "stuff" // Oh, the dreaded freshman year "packing list." So many websites attempt to streamline what college kids need to bring their first year, but let me tell you something- it all depends on where you go to school and what kind of student you are. Overall, I can tell you my biggest piece of advice to incoming freshmen (that many of my friends agree on) is to bring less than you think you need. Luckily, having a limit on the suitcases I could bring on my international flight prevented me from bringing a ton of unnecessary items. That being said, I still could've packed lighter. Keep in mind that more likely than not the college you're headed to probably has a pharmacy, grocery store, and Target within driving distance of campus. Take advantage of that, and buy bigger items (such as pillows or a trash bin) there. As for clothes? One of my friends told me she packed way too many sandals for going to such a cold-weather school in upstate New York. And to be honest, I'm guilty of packing too many pairs of shorts. So just remember, kids- less is most definitely more when it comes to packing.

My real suitcases for school are way more full than this. 

The freshman 15 // First off, if you're just about to start your first year of college you need to come to terms with the fact that you will most likely gain some weight. And if you didn't gain a single pound throughout your freshman year please tell me your secret. Here's the thing, though: your first few weeks of college are about enjoying yourself. And a lot of what constitutes for "enjoying yourself" (at least in my book) includes eating- whether it's greasy pizza after a night-out, an extra plate of sweet potato fries in the dining hall, or a slice of birthday cake for your hall mate's special day. You can't avoid these situations altogether or be a stickler about eating healthy- especially during your first semester. So I'd say the best thing to do for yourself in order to avoid the freshman 15 is to spend your first semester simply getting used to your routine, involving yourself in student life, and forming solid friendships. Then, once you feel more settled in to being at college, you can figure out what small changes you can make in order to stay healthy (and lose those pesky 5 pounds that you didn't notice until Christmas).

Don't worry- you have time to learn how to eat healthy.

So there you have it, folks! My genuine, unfiltered advice on how to conquer your fears for the coming year. And while I've tried to keep this post as not-cliched as possible, I just have to add in this one last piece of advice for incoming freshmen: have fun! Over-stressing about the next year won't do you any good, so just remember to enjoy the ride while you can- because you're only a college freshman once!


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