Three Things I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman

Hey, it’s me again.  Sorry I’ve disappeared for such a long time, but I’ve had an especially rough start to college.  Anyways, a year ago this time I was looking forward to college with some apprehension, wondering how it would go and which mistakes I made.  As many people in the world are now in the same place, I thought I might share some of my rising sophomore wisdom.  So here’s to the rest of you making different (and hopefully less harmful) mistakes than I did.

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1. Don’t get in a relationship first semester.  During your freshman year, it’s probably preferable not to get in a relationship at all, but if things really come together for you, then I’m not going to stop you.  Just don’t do it during the first semester.  Why?  Because first semester is a critical period in getting adjusted and making your group of friends.  By concentrating on a new relationship, you limit yourself to focusing on friendship with one person.

If/ when your relationship ends, then you will find yourself alone and friendless because your significant other is gone and everyone else already has their group of friends.  I know more than one person who this has happened to, and it’s a lonely place to be.  If the person you’re interested is the right one for you, then they’re capable of waiting a semester.

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2. Watch out for toxic people.  This is something I really struggled with, especially as a naturally empathetic person and a listener.  If you’re the kind of person who attracts troubled people– and you know who you are– you need to be on guard to stay away from them.  Freshman year is a time when you have enough to focus on with an adjustment, and you don’t have the time or ability to be someone’s therapist.  In fact, you’re not licensed for that and can do someone more harm than good.

The truth is, colleges are full to the brim with struggling people.  Unless if you’re completely self-absorbed, you’re likely to run into that eventually.  I’m not saying to never help a friend in need, but if someone you know is struggling with something severe, it’s better for you and them if you refer them to professional help.

3. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone.  Most people walk into college thinking that mental health issues and abusive relationships are things that happen to other people.  However, statistics show it is rather likely to happen to you and will certainly happen to someone you know.

Almost a third of college students report feeling crippling depression in the last year and over half report overwhelming anxiety (source).   In addition, almost half of college women report being abused by a romantic partner (source).  And don’t think this never happens to men.  Statistics are hard to find because men tend to stay quiet about this sort of thing due to pressures from society, but they certainly are abused as well.

These statistics aren’t meant to scare you, just to inform you.  If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental health or abuse, please contact your school.

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That said, while there are a lot of difficulties to the college life, it’s not all dismal.  Some of the deepest friendships I’ve formed and my best life experiences happened in the last year.  I’m sure the same will be true of you as well.  So live your best life next year, and make the smartest mistakes possible.

Pictures from unsplash.com

2016 Rant

So.  I suppose it’s become a bit of a tradition to write an end-of-the-year-post on this blog.  At least, I put together thoughtful little posts the last two years.  And this year, I’m going to break the mold a little by doing an unedited stream of consciousness.  So fasten your seatbelts.

What happened this year?

  1. Not much.
  2. Actually a lot.  Just not much I want to talk about.
  3. The first thing I remember was celebrating New Year’s.  It was lonely because all the friends I used to celebrate it with had moved away.
  4. For the first part of the year, I didn’t do much besides wait to hear back from colleges.  And then I heard.  I didn’t get accepted anywhere I wanted to go.
  5. I spent the next part of the year mourning this.
  6. Thankfully, during my mourning period, I got to meet up with some of my friends on a trip.  This was one of the best experiences of my life.
  7. And then I visited the college I did get into for freshman orientation.  I realized I would be okay there.  The year took a turn for the better.
  8. I started college.  I met some great people.  Things were going well.
  9. Three guys pursued me, and it was the first time my homeschooled self had any experience with the sort of thing, so it stressed me out.
  10. The crappy election happened.  It really brought me down for a while because I was so disappointed in and scared for America.
  11. I ended up with one of the guys I talked about.  Things were definitely looking up.  I made a great group of friends too.
  12. Things went perfectly for a while.
  13. Then finals happened.  I really, really freaked out.
  14. My relationship ended.  Suddenly.  Unexpectedly.  Painfully.
  15. I’m still trying to figure out the how’s and the why’s.
  16. I’m ok now.  Or at least I’m trying to be.
  17. I didn’t mean to write all this but oh well.  Happy New Year.

So yeah.  2016.  Both the best and worst year of my life.  It ended on a bad note, so I’m not super hopeful for 2017, but maybe things will get better.  Maybe.

To Be Okay

It’s been exactly a month since I’ve been going at this college thing.  How am I?  I’m okay.  Not okay in the “everything is just fine and dandy” sort of way or okay in the “I’m doing horribly and I want to hide it” sort of way.  I don’t think either of those things are what it means to be okay.

To be honest, I’m not sure this is the best place for me.  The sheer size overwhelms me, I don’t see my friends as often as I would like, and I don’t get along with most other freshmen.  (most)

But.

(Yes, there’s a but.)

I’m happier here than I have been anywhere else for years.  It’s not that things never go wrong.  No, sometimes things go horribly wrong.  It’s that I know how to handle life when it goes awry.

I’m learning to be happy where I’m at, and that’s why I’m okay.

 

Answers to All of the Questions People Ask me About College

Do you ever feel like people are asking you the same questions over and over?  I think every college-bound student has been asked most of these questions, or some form of them, at least 452 times this summer.  Thus, I have graciously provided my answers to all of them, so I can direct people to this page and avoid small talk. 🙂  Warning: Sarcasm ahead.

Photo cred: Zazzle.com.  Yes, you can actually buy this shirt there.

 

 

Q: Sooo, where are you going to school?

A: Boston.  Boston University.

Q: Congratulations!  Why did you choose to go there?

A: Umm… money.  They gave me a scholarship.

Q: Oh, that’s great.  Then how did you choose to apply in the first place?

A: Goodness gracious, I don’t know!  I was such a confused child when applying to colleges that I didn’t know how or why I was applying anywhere.  But if you want to know how I found the school, umm… College Board told me it would be a good fit.  Is that a good answer?

Q: Okay.  Well you better be careful up in Boston.  Do you know how liberal they are up there?

A: Liberal?  Well, gosh diddly darn!  I never would have guessed Boston was liberal.  And it’s not as if I would like to meet anyone with different political beliefs than the ones I’m used to.  Because I am every bit as conservative as you assume I am, and because I have no brain, I’m naturally concerned I will absorb all liberal ideas I come into contact with.  If Boston is liberal, I’m just going to have to renounce my scholarship, aren’t I?

Q: What are you majoring in?

A: Well, at first I was thinking English or Creative Writing or something, but then I realized most of the jobs available to me would be teaching jobs, and I do not have the patience to deal with one of those.  So then I decided on the most PRACTICAL, money-making major ever: sociology.

Q: Why did you choose that major?

A: Like I said, it’s the ultimate millionaire’s major!  NO, because I’m passionate about it.  But I also happen to be passionate about being able to eat so I’m thinking about that career factor…

Q: Do you know what job you’re going to get?

A: *Facepalm*  All these questions make me feel like I don’t think things through well.

Q: Are you planning on finding a husband in college?

A: Oh yes.  That’s my one and only goal.  Why else would I have spent so much time studying for the SAT, move to another continent, and work to pay for college?  It wouldn’t be to get a good education.  What a preposterous idea.  I mean, a woman trying to get an education in order to get a job outside the home?  In the twenty first century?  Laughable.  And it’s not like there are perfectly free dating sites I could use to find a date if that was my goal in life.

Q: Are you excited?

A: YES.  But also nervous and terrified.  Because I’m an introvert and shy and moving to a whole new culture with tons and tons of people and I’m an obsessive freak about my grades and want to do really well and… did I mention I’m a tad nervous?  But, yes.  I’m excited.

 

 

J14: A Journal About Journaling

My first post of the year!  Yipeee!  And the topic is… you guessed it, journaling.

For someone who enjoys writing as much as I do and keeps as many notebooks as I do, I really don’t journal that much.  Actually, I don’t really journal at all.  Almost everyone I know has tried journaling at some point and given it up.  I’m no different.

My notebook situation

Several times I tried to journal, and I inevitably gave up every time.  Then, a few months later, I would pick up my old journal, read through it, roll my eyes at my old writing, and try again.  And fail again.  Eventually I decided it was no use.  Even without journals, I remember most things.  Besides, I could never keep up with one.

But my perspective on journaling has changed a little.  I’ve seen that it really can help me work through my thoughts.  After all, I’m much better at writing than I am at talking.  And I believe journaling can help someone develop both as a writer and a person.  Yet, I still don’t see myself keeping a journal.

Why?  Well first of all, I just don’t feel like I have the time.  With all of the hecticness (this is not a word but I think it needs to be one) of life, I know my journal would be placed as a very low priority and I would probably only write in it once a month.  I also don’t really like writing by hand.  My brain thinks of ideas about ten times faster than I can write, and by the time I write everything out I forget what I was going to say.  Because of this, I much prefer typing.

Maybe one day I’ll start an electronic journal, or even chip away at my impressive notebook pile, but for now I’ll stick to only jotting down ideas every now and then.  And of course blogging.  So far, I have really loved this blog and am planning to keep it next year.  I don’t know how frequently I’ll be able to post, but I would really hate to give it up.  I hope all my classmates will also continue blogging so I can see where their writing takes them.

aaaaand another photo.

J13: What We Need For Christmas This Year

J13: Describe your favorite Christmas memory. What do you like about the holiday? Does your family have any special traditions? Anything you don’t like?

Well, call me Ebenezer Scrooge because out of all these lovely Christmas prompts, I’m going to write about my least favorite part of Christmas.  Bah Humbug to you too.  It might surprise you, but my least favorite part of Christmas is this question:

“What do you want?”

I actually dread this question every year.  There’s just nothing I want, and it completely stresses me out to find something to tell desperate relatives.  Okay, so there are things I want, just that they can’t be bought and wrapped up.  What I really want is a merry Christmas.  Truly.

I want a few weeks of peace.  I want to feel ridiculously happy for no reason.  I want a meaningful time with family and friends.  I want to feel a child-like joy at the birth of my savior.  Because that—the peace and the joy—is my favorite part of Christmas.  Only with the craziness and stress, it gets harder and harder to find.

Now I’m not trying to sound all saint-like here.  There actually are some material things I want.  (Namely, books and tea.)  Though really, the more I think about it, the only Christmas gift I—or anyone else—will ever need came in a manger two thousand years ago.  Which is exactly what Christmas is about.

Well look at that.  I admitted to liking Christmas cheer and even ended up telling my favorite part of Christmas.  Perhaps I’m not Scrooge after all.  All that to say, I wish each and every one of you the merriest of Christmases!

J12: Being a Flower Girl, Romanian Weddings, and Other Wedding Related-Thoughts

This week’s journal topics was weddings.  Turns out I have more to say on the subject than I expected!

Random fact about me: I have never attended an American wedding, unless if movies count.  However, I have attended several Romanian weddings, the exact number of which I cannot remember.  And no, my mom didn’t remember either.  I asked.

My first several weddings I attended as a flower girl.  It just so happened that while I was around flower girl age, many people who work with my parents were getting married, so I was a very popular choice.  I also got to be a ring bearer once.  There is very little that I remember about these weddings, but I do know that since they were hosted by evangelical Christians, they were rather different than traditional Romanian weddings.

This summer I got the opportunity to attend my cousin’s wedding, which, unlike the weddings of my parents’ colleagues, was a traditional Romanian Orthodox wedding.  Honestly, I wasn’t terribly excited when I first heard about this plan.  Although there is a legal and religious ceremony during the day, the most important part of Romanian weddings is the all-nighter party that takes place afterwards.  This is always accompanied by food, dancing, and of course a live band.

As it is, I find it difficult to be social for a whole hour, let alone a whole night, I have two left feet, and I (no offense) get very tired of the bands.  However the wedding actually turned out to be a pleasant experience.  There was an enjoyable atmosphere and I enjoyed experiencing this part of Romanian culture.  I even ended up liking the dances, although I’m sure I stepped on a few toes.  And I wasn’t at all disappointed that a DJ replaced the regular band.  By the time I left, I had developed a greater appreciation of weddings, especially of Romanian weddings.

Not from the wedding I went to, but this is what a Romanian wedding dance looks like.

One Romanian wedding tradition I really like is called the stealing of the bride.  At some point during the party, the bride is “stolen” by the groomsmen, who will hide her somewhere.  When the groom realizes the bride is gone, he will work out a “price” with the groomsmen to buy her back—usually some form of alcohol and a declaration of love.

As for my own wedding, I have no idea what will happen, but I hope to include elements from both American and Romanian traditions.  And perhaps traditions of other cultures that will influence me.  We’ll see.

J4- Finding Myself

For this week’s journal, we were to write about the most important lesson we’ve learned in our lives.  This is the lesson that immediately came to mind. 

Throughout the sixteen years I have spent on this planet called Earth, I have managed to learn a thing or two, though I must say the most important lesson I’ve ever learned was when I was about fourteen.  By that time, I had already spent a few awkward years trying to see where my place was, how I fit in, who I was… you know the story.  Every one finds themselves there at some point.

In any event, I started to notice how much pressure I was feeling from other people to be who they wanted me to be.  It seemed like a lot of people in my age group wanted me to act like them, wear the same things as them, and share the same interests as them in order to be their friend.  Finally, I realized that if I did all those things, I wasn’t being myself; I was fake.  Whoever became friends with me would be making friends with a made up person.

I learned I had to pursue my own interests and be who I really am, regardless of what I felt other people wanted me to be.  It’s not easy, and I certainly don’t do it perfectly.  Constantly I have to remind myself my true value comes from what God thinks of me rather than people.

J3-Salt of the Earth

“You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty?  It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.” Matthew 5:13

Salt is pretty important.  Imagine what French fries would be like without salt.  Or potato chips.  In fact, a large portion of what we eat would taste awful without salt.  The taste of salt, or lack thereof, is noticed immediately.  If we were ever to put salt on our food to find it didn’t have taste, we would be disgusted and throw it out immediately.  In the same way, our “taste” as Christians needs to be noticeable.  If it isn’t, then we aren’t fulfilling our purpose.

But in Bible times salt was even more important.  Being that the refrigerator was yet to be invented, salt was used as a preservative.  If we are the salt of the world, we are what keeps it from rotting.  Thus our job isn’t only to “add flavor” to the world here and there.  When we see “rotting” parts of the world, such as suffering, we should take a stand against it and work to prevent it from continuing.