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Upperclassman offers advice for surviving the first year

There is an incessant flow of “20 Things to Do in your 20s!” articles, “How to be Awesome at College Life” blurbs, and videos that insist that you have not been living your life correctly because ‘abc’ is the right way to ‘xyz’ on the internet and social media.

I have learned to maneuver away from these with a simple scroll, but the biggest peeve I have with these sorts of articles is that there is a lack of applicability and, well, honesty. Generally they are all the same with little consideration to the varied perspectives and lifestyles reading them.

I personally have found myself (as you soon will, especially come winter break) acting as a living anecdote of my experiences both at college and as a Rollins student. With this in mind, I can assure you that the advice you are about to read is not like those anxiously demanding self-help ‘Thought Catalog’ gif sets fit for a limited audience.

People you meet, especially in your first year, will leave—some unexpectedly.

People transferring or going back home unexpectedly without telling many people happens. It just does.

It may not be your super close friend, or even your good friend, but it may be Chandler from your hall who you had two classes with.

With Rollins College being such a small school, you really do get to know everyone. So, when some people seem to just disappear it leaves a kind of strange hole.

No one is going to tell you at orientation or in your RCC that “some of you will make it here and stay, and some of you will go,” like they might at a larger institution. For me, it definitely would have been nice to have a warning.

Enjoy every friendship, but there will be some unexpected missed goodbyes. When you see people you know, make sure to give “hellos” and ten-minute catchup talks to help add up to a great experience and comforting closeness, especially at a smaller institution like ours.

Try new things like food and create accidental traditions, which might actually be the best kind.

Because I have lived in Orlando since I was five, I thought I would grow extremely bored with going to school so close to home.

Yes, in some sense it still stands true, but each week I find a plethora of amazing things to try thanks to both the internet and to my friends.

Allowing yourself to be open to that one thing that seemed ultra ‘meh’ could introduce you to something not so mediocre. Those things that turn out to be horrible could make for a funny story later.

This is all-encompassing: try new foods, events, music, party scenes, and organizations (it is totally okay if you decide it is not for you and you do not want to go anymore; you are not usually obligated to).

It is about establishing or reestablishing you and your interests. Remember that generally nothing in college is either conventional or non-conventional across the board.

If Denny’s at 3 a.m. on Thursdays with your roommate ended up becoming your thing and now it is basically tradition, do it, love it, and I will probably be there too with mine.

It is seriously and absolutely okay to take a break for yourself.

You do not have to be with friends all the time. While we may all be experiencing this time in our lives together, we still hold parts of our being that are distinct to us and us alone.

Self-care is important. “Me-time” is important. Self-reflection is important. In the midst of participation and homework and everything that will be your years of undergrad, you may find yourself pulling from your core being and what you hold dear. You may find your morals changing and may just plain go outside yourself—it is okay, do not beat yourself up.

Even if you do not experience that, or you change for the better, just please always remember to try and know yourself even if you do not know where that self is going. Getting lost happens, but being stuck can be a lot worse.

Mental health is important. Rollins has Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and there is so much beautiful scenery that it makes it easier to go outside and breathe. It is all about being as grounded as possible. It is okay to just chill.

If your roommate sucks, or if you are the roommate that sucks, talk about it earlier rather than later.

If you get a bad roommate, there is definitely a system you can set up to help you tolerate each other. Everyone’s situation is different, and it can help to talk to someone, especially your RA, about the situation and sort through some possibilities.

As roommates, address the situation and talk about it nicely to each other at least once. This can be hard. Some people are just disgusting. Others might be the crazy roommate you cannot even think about talking to. Some might be unnecessarily passive aggressive. But just talk. The earlier the better, because if the “thing” you dislike or do not agree with goes unspoken, it can register as accepted. Then it can seem a bit out of nowhere if you address it as a problem—because now it has become a habit. Again, every situation is different, but please try to talk about it.
It seems that there should be something about dating or Tinder or whatever.

Remember the aforementioned bit about how nothing is really conventional or non-conventional in college? That pretty much applies here too.

There really is no right or wrong, but remember that if you are in a situation where you might not know what is best for yourself, there are probably some really amazing friends preaching the same thing over and over again who know you very well.

Do not try and squeeze yourself into some faux acceptance of what seems appropriate.

You do not want to date or have casual Tinder nights? Don’t. You want a long distance relationship with someone from back home or a from a different school? Awesome. You are a bit undecided trying to figure it out? Okay.

Be safe, listen to your friends, and it is all good.

Read your textbooks. Seriously. Read or at least skim your books, or do not even bother buying them.

It is not only money wasted if you do not read them, but come junior year, you are going to wish you read that one thing from that one class because it is suddenly relevant.

If you did not read it, keeping the book around might actually prompt you to engage with it over the summer.

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