What I Wish I Knew
What I Wish I Knew . . .
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What I wish I knew my freshman year is the importance of maintaining a good support structure. For many people college may be an opportunity to meet a lot of new friends and socialize so much that it threatens school work. For others, it may be overwhelming just trying to cope with school work, let alone if you’re working or have a family to deal with. Every student is different and faces different challenges, but one thing remains the same – school is stressful. And if you don’t have the support structure to handle it – good friends with which you can unwind – then you won’t have a major part of what you need to handle it and stay healthy. Everything in moderation, of course – your school work has to be done – but making and keeping good friends around is a must for surviving college. So schedule some friend time every week.
During my first weeks of college three years ago, I was overwhelmed by all of the fun, parties, new friendships, and excitement. I was meeting a lot of new people and adjusting to living outside of my parents’ home for the first time. While this was definitely an exciting time, I was dealing with the typical dating and friendship drama, and I had some less-than-awesome experiences in dealing with this drama. Prior to college life, I relied on my family and close high school friends for support. The college environment wasn’t conducive to relying on those same people, mainly due to geographic distance. During my third term, a new friend recommended that I visit the Counseling Center on campus. I scheduled my first appointment with a counselor there and soon realized that it was a great resource for learning how to appropriately deal with various challenges going on in my life. My freshman year was certainly tumultuous, and although I wish I sought help earlier, the counseling I've received has made the rest of my college experience so much better.
Counseling Services available on Campus
Under the basic health plan students have access to counseling services. Call (725-2800) for an appointment or stop by the clinic in the University Center Building (UCB) Room 200 Mon-Thurs 8-6 & Fri 8-5.
I wish when I had started dating seriously I understood how important it was to not lose yourself in a relationship. In my first relationship after high school I became who my boyfriend wanted me to be. I hung around with all of his friends and did the things he wanted to do. In the end I wasn’t very interesting because I didn’t have a life or hobbies of my own. I shunned all of my friends and when we broke up after nine months there was no one for me to turn to. I had no support system because all my friends were guys and friends with my ex and all my other friends had moved on. I had to start over and find new friends. In my next relationship I kept my friends and had my own stuff going on so that I was able to keep my own identity while still participating in a healthy relationship.
You do not have to worry about making friends. Unlike high school, college has thousands of people on campus. If you be yourself, you will attract people who have personalities just like you. There is at least one of every kind! You do not have to force yourself to try and fit in. Your self-esteem and identity are at stake. Allow the process of building friendships to take place naturally. Your relationships will be deeper and more satisfying in the long run.
I know I was tempted to attend class in my pajamas and slouchiest attire, but I found this is ill advised. Living in the dorms allowed me to roll out of bed and get to class within a few minutes. The stranger-filled classrooms and grand lecture halls made it easy to get away with not caring how I looked. Who was I trying to impress? My point is that it is not about looking good for others but about feeling good for you. When you take the time to brush your teeth, comb your hair, dress nicely, you will feel more attentive and ready to learn. Whenever I wore sweats to class, I usually felt disengaged and tired. Looking good made me feel more prepared and confident.
Remember to eat healthfully. On campus, it is easy to eat convenient and fast food. Being away from your parents also gives you the freedom and responsibility to eat whatever you want. Stress from school might have you craving salt, sugar, and carbs! It is okay to sneak some fun foods into your diet, but it is best to do so in moderation. I promise you, after a while, if you eat crappy meals then you will feel like crap. I suggest eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day if you want to perform well and feel well in school. Proper nutrition and mindful eating habits will help you stay emotionally and physically healthy.