As the end of my senior year slowly creeps upon me, I’m starting to look back at the things college has taught me. So many people convinced me beforehand that college was not the real world but indeed, it is. I learned this the hard way. First day of freshman year, I was certain of two things: one I could finish college and two I knew everything there was to know about college. I was wrong on so many levels. College has taught me many valuable lessons and no overpriced book was needed.
The number one lesson I got from my college experience was how to budget my money. I could stretch a twenty further than anybody I know. I kid you not. In high school, my job paid me once a week, in college that moved to once a month. Boy that was hard. I had to make tough decisions every month like if I wanted to eat take out or buy soap or buy toothpaste or the new high heels on display at Rue 21. I don’t care what anyone says, when you have dilemmas such as these, you are in the real world.
Second on my list of valuable lessons I’ve learned would definitely be tolerance. Being cooped up in a building with estrogen just flying around, I’ve learned to have a higher level of tolerance for stupidity and ignorance.
I’ll never forget the year I ran for student government vice president and at the height of our campaign, this one girl took the flier I had given her and looked at me before crumbling it up. She tossed it in the trash, looked at me standing there and slammed her door in my face. I would have been fine with an “I don’t want to vote for you” or “I’m voting for my friend.” I smiled before walking away and screaming, “Have a nice day.” I could’ve chosen to respond so much differently but I let it go. Maturity is optional for everyone.
Third Lesson. Living with new people can be so difficult. Every year I’ve had a new set of roommates and I’ve welcomed the experience with open arms. Most of the time I’m all “just give it a shot.” And when that doesn’t work it turns into four months of silence between me and a roommate or an empty bed where said roommate would sleep but because the tension is thick, she disappears. I am well prepared to live with just about anything or anyone.
Fourth lesson. I never knew there were so many perks to being a college student. You get to sleep in on the weekends, walk around in your pajamas on a regular basis and you get student discounts. Student discounts on food (for late night study sessions) and on clothing.
When I discovered that for just being a student I could shop at various stores and they would give me a discount, I wanted to jump for joy. “It’s only for full priced items” I remember the clerk at Charlotte Russe informing me and I smiled at her. She had become my angel that day that I walked out with a blue jean dress and jewelry. I like to shop and I love a discount when I can find one.
Fifth Lesson. Cafeteria food is not necessarily the greatest thing to eat. Especially if you’re like me and you don’t eat any red meat, your selections become very limited. It is possible to live off of junk food. I’ve done it for four years and avoided the freshman 15. Cups of noodles, frozen egg rolls, cookies, and an infinite supply of apple juice and M&Ms have kept me going. Every meal I create I’m pretty sure a nutritionist is dying.
Sixth Lesson. “Everything on fifth goes to downtown everything on Forbes come from downtown.” That little piece of knowledge would’ve been helpful my first year here as a commuter. It would have avoided me so many unnecessary trips downtown. First day, freshman year my first commuter experience, I caught the bus downtown instead of home, but thankfully, it circles back around. I made it home but I caught the scenic route.
Thanks to freshman year, I’ve mastered the bus system here. Maybe not mastered, but I’m so used to getting lost that I don’t panic anymore.
Seventh Lesson. Time management is simple in college, I’ve come to accept that I simply have no down time between extracurricular activities and classes. There have been many five AM nights filled with homework or the few times I’ve been told that the library was closing and I would have to layout my newspaper the next day.
It’s so hard to do everything and I just want time to relax. I used to do my homework ahead of time every Sunday but Fridays and Saturdays became filled with parties and I was always in recovery on Sundays. Time for things just fit in where they fit in.
Last but not least, college has taught me that the friends I have made here will be my friends forever. Living with a bunch of strangers, I have encountered some of the greatest, most kindhearted people I know. There have been so much laughter and craziness that these four years just seemed to float on by. It’s good to meet new people especially for a new journey like college.
There have been so many goofy times like getting in the moving carts and attempting to ride down the hall, getting stuck in the elevator, the numerous pranks, or going out for twelve hours straight.
They all have been good times that I would not and could not trade for the world. I did not expect to leave college a different person. The girl from freshman year is gone. She has grown into a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a support system bigger than she had arrived with. She speaks up for herself now, and isn’t afraid of a challenge. I started here a follower and I leave a leader.
Lovelies, What has your college experience taught you? Have you changed from the person you were in high school?