Having just finished my freshman year last week, I figured now was a good time to look back on everything I’ve learned in just this past year.
1. Going home is okay. I always planned on going away from home for college, but never realized it would be so hard. I was homesick. A lot. At the beginning, it felt like quitting to go home just for a weekend. I got a lot of crap from my friends for it. But once second semester rolled around, I decided that I just didn’t care. Sometimes home was the perfect fix to a bad week. It’s okay to go home (if you can), especially if you’re crippled with homesickness.
2. Step outside of your comfort zone. This is so, so cliche but I now fully believe that you won’t get anything out of life if you don’t take just a single step outside of your bubble.
3. Always have a smile ready for anyone. Just having people smile at me on my way to class could turn around a bad or lonely day for me, as I’m sure it does others.
4. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone if you need them. I spent a lot of long, lonely nights alone in my room, upset over whatever had happened that day or just in my life, simply because I was too scared to reach out to the friends I made. I guess I thought that we weren’t close enough yet or whatever. But reach out. It makes things so much easier.
5. While I’m sure they can be a curse a lot of times, roommates are a blessing. Living without one this year really made me realize that. You might have had your own room at home, but you knew you weren’t completely alone. Living without a roommate, while it has its perks of course, can be very, very lonely.
6. Sometimes, your homework or test or whatever it is due the next day isn’t the top priority. This took a lot of getting used to, but by finals second semester, I had it down. People are more important. Your health is more important. Sleep is more important. One missing homework assignment or one bad grade on a test isn’t going to ruin you. Prioritize.
7. Keep up with your faith life, whatever that may be. Once I found a church that I actually liked, I found that my weeks were looking up. Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of Jesus on a Sunday morning to fix up a bad week.
8. Call your parents. I was bad at this, but I came to realize that even a ten minute phone call can make you feel 3948719204719 times better about anything. Also, they miss you and want to hear from you.
9. Talk to your siblings too. My sister and I got SO much closer while I was away whihc made coming home that much better. Whether it’s a quick text or a fifteen minute phone call before class, stay in touch with the sibs.
10. Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean all the time), a night in with Netflix is perfectly fine. Sometimes you need a night to yourself, something that is hard to find while surrounded by all your friends. Take that time for yourself to relax and regenerate.
Being away at Belmont this year really taught me a lot. There were a lot times where I really considered transferring to a school back home because I thought that I just couldn’t do it anymore, but I think I needed the experience of being away. I’m a perfect distance from home — far enough away that I can be independent and not run home every time I’m upset but close enough that I can drive home if I need a fix of Louisville. Thanks to the wonderful friends I made at school and my family back home, I’m happy to say that I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m already looking forward to returning in the fall for my second year in the wonderful city of Nashville. Six months ago, I never could have imagined myself saying that. But man, am I glad that things have changed for the better!