May 14, 2013

Lifestyle: Freshman Year Review.


College may or may not be the best thing that's ever happened to me. This past week, I finished my freshman year, and I could not be more sad about this. It means I have 3 years left to be carefree. Then I have to worry about grad school and real life and honestly the thought of all that makes me a bit nauseous.

Alas, it's been a lovely year, and while there have been some things I wish I had done differently, for the most part I think I have it figured out. Here I will share a few things I believe I've done right, as well as a few things that could have gone better. Hopefully future freshmen will follow my advice as well as my warnings.

College is awesome! Don't mess up.
  • School:
I feel good about... having spent time in the library. My dorm was pretty social, and I get easily distracted, so the library was great for actually being productive. I had my own spot that I sat in all the time, and I just got lost in my own head, and, most importantly, got things done when I needed to. That left even more time for socializing :). Honestly, the library and student union are two places to really take advantage of if you need to study or just need a moment away from everybody.

This could have gone better... the one thing I regret in terms of school is not trying harder in my physics class. I suck at science, and I just used that as an excuse all semester, convincing myself it's the only reason I failed the class (just kidding though, I got a B, but that's pretty much failing in my eyes). What was most upsetting was the fact that it was my only B for the year...and it was a 4-credit hour class. The professor was a douchebag, but I feel that had I put more time and effort into the class, I could have gotten an A. So moral of the story: don't use the fact that you're weak in a subject as an excuse. Put maximum time and effort, and you'll pull through. I didn't and I want to punch myself in the face because of it.
  • Finances:
I feel good about... the fact that I had a set budget for the entire year and planned accordingly. By the end of the school year, I had managed to save up for a weekend trip to California (plane tickets and all), as well as an extra $500 to go towards my housing and meal plan next semester. At the beginning of each month, I went to an ATM, took out a certain amount of cash, and tried to stick to that amount for the entire month. Naturally, there were some times when I went a bit overboard (not by much). It's much more difficult to be ok with parting with your cash than it is to swipe a card, though. I also actively tried to write down my expenses, and I've noticed where I can cut costs next year.

This could have gone better... books. Campus bookstores are complete ripoffs. My first semester, I purchased all of my books (used) at the bookstore. Second semester, I rented them from an off-campus bookstore. There was a significant price difference, but I still feel like there's more I could have done about it. Next semester I'm going to try book renting services such as chegg.com, or get in touch with people that have already taken the classes I need and own the books. Get creative with it! The cost adds up pretty quickly!
  • Social Life:
I feel good about... getting involved in extracurriculars. Since I stayed in state for undergrad, I see a lot of familiar faces all the time. I also roomed with one of my closest friends from high school. Knowing people was quite lovely, but I still wanted the college experience. Getting involved in clubs where I didnt't know anybody was the best decision I've ever made. It was refreshing to enter a world where nobody knows me, meet new people, and make new friends. I joined a club which deals with the international students studying on campus and the people I've met through it are some of the most amazing people ever. Other than extracurriculars, just going with the flow and accepting invitations even when you want to be lazy could make for a great time. Just explore! That is, as long as you stay safe.

This could have gone better... having my own fun rather than monitoring everyone else's fun. While for the most part, I enjoyed my time and didn't care about what anybody else was doing, I did have lazy days every once in a while. Now, those lazy days can be useful. If you need to recharge your batteries or study and catch up on work, they're great days! My mistake was not using these days properly. Instead of staying in and going to bed early, getting rested and caught up on work, I ended up going to bed late and stalking everybody else's fun on Facebook. Don't do that. It's a complete waste. And the sad thing is, it wasn't an activity I was consciously partaking it. It was strictly out of habit. 
  • Wellness:
I feel good about... taking advantage of the gym. Working out in a specialized setting is going to be so difficult once I graduate. Classes are expensive. Gym memberships are expensive. I've spent about 2 hours a day at the gym this past year, doing back to back classes for Body Blast and Zumba. While the cardio room is all fine and dandy, classes are what really did it for me, just because I pushed myself harder. No one wants to be THAT person that slacks off, you know. Also, I decided to take Body Blast and Buns'n Abs classes in order to face my fear of weights. I've always been terrified of lifting, not because I fear getting buff, but just because the way I would go about if I were to go training on my own just wouldn't really be beneficial for my body. I enjoyed the results of these classes. On move-in day, I could barely carry up a hamper full of clothes. On move-out day, I carried my microwave and my TV to the car from the second story. It doesn't sound like a big achievement, but it's better than where I used to be.

This could have gone better... food consumption. While my workout schedule was impeccable, my diet completely counteracted it. Every day, I'd go to the dining hall with good intentions, thinking salad bar Salad Bar SALAD BAR. But every time, something else would draw me in. Pizza and grilled cheeses, anyone? It also killed me that our dining hall had delicious chocolate chip cookies. It didn't happen often, but when it did, I had to take advantage. And by advantage, I mean having 4 cookies at a time. Next year, I will approach the problem differently and make cheat days for myself. A week of health= a yummy reward on Sundays. Hopefully that will work. First semester I'll stick with a dining plan, but little by little I'm going to try to start making my own healthy food and give up on the meal plan second semester.



Hopefully my rants about what went right and wrong will help at least one future freshman make wise-ish decisions. 

One last thing: Be careful about partying. It can be really fun, but it can go wrong as well. Don't be a daredevil and know your limits. Also acknowledge when things get bad and get out of there. 

Cheers! 





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