Welcome to college! Before you got here, you probably had certain ideas about how this new stage of your life was going to go. Whether you got those expectations from movies, TV shows, books or just daydreaming, you’re about to realize that college is nothing like you imagined it.
Your friend group
Expectation: The people you met two minutes ago will become your lifelong friends.
Reality: Everyone is in the same boat; always remember that! No one really knows anyone else when they come to college, even if it seems like they do. You might find that in the beginning of your first semester, you spend a lot of time with the people you meet the first weekend; but by the end of the semester, you’ll probably know and hang out with so many more people from your classes or activities.
Don’t be discouraged if you feel alone. It’s a fact that every college student will tell you: You will make real and lasting friendships, it just might take some time. As everyone will tell you, getting involved is how you will make friends. (Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone’s ever made a friend by sitting alone watching Netflix in their room.) If you join activities you like, you’ll get to do something that’s fun and that will introduce you to new people.
Expectation: You’re finally beginning to live out your dreams of being a doctor/lawyer/engineer.
Reality: Certainly, some people have known what they wanted to do since they were 12 years old, but plans that you once thought were set in stone might change. You might find that you dislike your major classes or that a new subject has sparked interest. College students change majors all the time, and if you change majors before the end of sophomore year, you can most likely still graduate on time.
However, changing majors because you don’t like what you’re studying is different from giving up. You might find academics don’t come as easily to you in college as they did in high school, so make sure that you give your chosen field a real chance before switching to something else.
The college lifestyle
Expectation: Living on campus is going to be awesome.
Reality: Unfortunately, your dorm room will not look like the advertisements. You might be living with a roommate for the first time in your life, and you might find your small dorm room a little tight sometimes. Dining hall food is going to get boring eventually, and the nice walk to class right now is going to be brutal in winter.
Like every college kid, you’ll learn how to cope. Your dorm room won’t seem so awkward once you’ve lived in it for a few weeks, and you’ll find other places to hang out and study. You’ll vary which dining halls you go to or get food from Storrs Center to change it up. You’ll also eventually buy a good rain coat, rain boots and umbrella and will definitely own a parka and snow boots by the end of freshman year.
Your new independent life
Expectation: Your life is finally starting, and you’ll be who you were meant to become.
Reality: You’re not going to change overnight. College is a new experience and you have to take some time to get used to it. Even though you might expect to have so much fun with new friends and absolutely love the college life, you might find yourself missing your high school friends, your (unshared) bedroom at home or your mom’s home cooking. College is an adjustment for everyone.
Eventually, you’ll feel comfortable in your new surroundings. You’ll adapt to face things on your own and to solve your own problems. Right now is the time to go your own way, do your own thing and be yourself. You’re not going to grow and change overnight, so you do have to have some patience as you get used to this new experience. To (loosely) paraphrase Monica from “Friends:” Welcome to the college world. It sucks sometimes, but you’re gonna love it!
Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.