Monday, May 11, 2015

The Freshman 15

I did it: I survived my freshman year of college.
All I can say is, "wow, that went by quickly," I still remember the day I opened the door to Bostwick Residence Hall on the South Campus of Wake Forest and was greeted by dozens of burley athletes and the notorious Demon Deacon. I was beyond excited to meet my new hall mates and RA, engage in the same old conversation (Where are your from? Where do you live right now? What do you want to major in?), and to begin my classes as a collegiate.

My excitement and high expectations about the fabulous college life weren't as grand as I had hoped. I had a rough transition, socially. I was in a single corner room and surrounded by girls who I didn't really click with. They were all really friendly and nice to talk to every now and then, but we just didn't become the best of friends! That was one of the first disappointments I had encountered during the few weeks of the semester. I learned quickly that all of those exclamations about college being "THE BEST FOUR YEARS" were not true.

The summer prior to my freshman year, I read an reread AND reread articles from Her Campus and  other bloggers about how to be completely prepared for the best freshman year! I was determined to make that happen.

Well, first bit of advice: You have to learn from your own experience; You can read a thousand articles about how to be prepared for the unexpected, but most likely, you have to learn on your own.

With that being said, here are the fifteen things I learned from this roller coaster of a year:

Myth: The professors are super scary and give you unlimited amounts of homework 
Whenever I would imagine my college life back in the glory days of high school, I always pictured a certain type of professor: he would wear a houndstooth tweed jacket with elbow patches on the sleeves, talked in old English metaphors, wrote the lecture on a chalkboard and addressed everyone in the class by their last night. I imagined them to be extremely tough and very cold. However, this is not the case. There are some professors at every school who are like that but for the most part, all of my professors are FANTASTIC! They genuinely care about every single one their students and want them to succeed. One of my professors even brought us donuts before our final! Just work hard and show your respect; you will be surprised at how caring they can be!

Myth: You and your hall mates will become best friends instantly
Okay, this is not true, at all. Or at least for me. Like I mentioned, everyone on my hall was lovely and did fun things together (like Secret Santa), but are we best friends? No. We got along fine but, like I said, we didn't click. Don't create World War III if this happens, just find a way to get along. This was definitely hard during the first weeks of the school year. If you find yourself in this situation, try branching out; meet people who are floors above or below you! You never know who you will meet!

Myth: You will most likely stick with your initial plan 
Nope, not true! So many people start on a certain track, like the pre-med track, and then realize it's not for them. It's perfectly okay to do so! Some days, I want to stick with my pre-business plan while other days, I want to take a different route and major in Communications. But, the great thing about being a freshman is having the opportunity to explore all sorts of passions. There is plenty of time and you can always change your mind if you unlock your true passion while in a Literature class, for example!

Myth: The workload is insane and you will have no free time at all
My school's nickname: Work Forest. 
I was scared to death of the work load. But, this was a complete shock to me; Okay, obviously I had to work, A LOT-it's college, we're hear to be students! However, the work load didn't swallow me up. I had time to get involved on campus and work part time at a clothing boutique. One thing I learned: People LOVE to talk about how busy they are because business=importance. Don't listen to them; we are all busy, just with different things!

Myth: The "Freshman 15" will happen 
I was also scared to death of the infamous "Freshman 15." It actually didn't happen to me.
Moderation is key, my friends. Schools offer gym access and fun classes like Zumba or Pilates. Take advantage of them or walk around the beautiful campus you call home. 
Oh and safety tip: There will be lots of events with "FREE FOOD."
 Just listen to your body and try to stay as active as possible. 

Myth: You've gotta Fake it 'til you make it
You have to constantly put up a front: Be carefree and enjoy every minute of the ride. Nope, not true. I was very intimidated by the social scene; I had never been to a party in high school, so the first weekend of the semester, I was just over my head. I told myself, "even though you are out of your comfort zone, just act like you've done this before. People are still getting to know you and you don't want to be the buzz kill." But as hard as I tried, I couldn't fake it. Like I said, I was overwhelmed. Once I spoke up and told my group of friends that I was anxious about exploring a fraternity house for the first time, they had my back. So, tear down that fourth wall. If you begin the deconstruction, someone else will join you and friendships will form! I quickly found a group of friends that liked spending their Friday nights going out to nice restaurant and frozen yogurt!

Myth: Calling Mom or visiting home makes you look like a Homebody
Absolutely not. I called my mom about everyday. It's just nice to talk to someone who genuinely cares about your day; it doesn't make you lame or a momma's girl. So many people contact their families in different ways. Everyone transitions at a different pace, so you might need some extra support. Plus, you parents are constantly thinking about you so it'll be nice to call and chat for a minute or two!
 I did and it helped during those rough moments. 

Fact: Make the effort to keep up with friends by putting yourself out there
One of the hardest things about living in a single is not having that "instant friend" to do things with like going to dinner or watching a movie in the lounge. I could either wallow in loneliness or do something about this situation. So, learned quickly that I couldn't sit around to wait for an invitation: It was one of those "out of sight-out of mind situations." I would always instigate lunch or dinner plans and ask those who I don't see as often how their weeks were going. Even sending a "Hey! Hope you're having a great day! Let's catch up this week!" message just shows someone that have been thought of!

Fact: Time Management is half the battle 
This is 100% true. If you can manage your time well, you will pretty much be successful. My philosophy is "work hard during the day, so you can relax at night." Just put down the cell phone and close the Netflix window; you will be so much more productive!

Fact: Going to class is the other half of the battle
When you do the math, each class you take during a semester costs about $250. Yep, $250! 
Do yourself, your parents, your professor, and fellow students a favor by going to class! If you skip because you don't feel like walking to class, you are wasting money and just creating more work for you; Not only do you have to do the assignment but you also have to learn the lecture on your own. It'll also be helpful when reviewing for the final because you won't have to teach yourself the material. 

Fact: Office Hours are extremely helpful
Last semester, I never went to office hours. I had a pretty good handle on all of my courses. However, this semester, Introduction to Economics was definitely a struggle. At first, I was terrified to go to office hours; I thought my professor would be really intimidating whenever I would ask questions or struggle with a problem. This is not the case; I went to office hours right before and after an exam. It was BEYOND helpful. My professor got to know me a little more and really cleared up my questions that I would never be bold enough to ask in a lecture class. Making an appearance during office hours might also help your final grade. If you show your professor that you're a hard worker and want to succeed, he or she will try everything in his or her power to help you do so! 

Fact: There will be people who just won't like you and there's nothing you can do about it
As one of the world's biggest people pleasers, this fact is really hard for me to grasp hold of. I love to make people happy; I would rather share someone's joy than my own. One of the hardest transitions when it comes to college is learning how to interact with people completely different than you. Different is great! But sometimes, people get a little too caught up in their differences. There will be people who don't like you just because of where you're from, what you wear, how you talk, your social obligations or what you eat. Is it completely shallow?
 But should it change who you are? 
Absolutely not.
 For the longest time, I wanted approval from some of my class mates. Even though I was different, I wanted them to like me because of my unique qualities. Some loved me, others not so much. Instead of surrounding yourself with those who don't approve of your differences, find those who do. 

Fact: There's a good chance you will second guess your decision when it 
One of my coworkers at the boutique I work at asked me, "So, have you second guessed your college decision yet?" I bursted out laughing because as absurd as it seemed, I was definitely going through that transitional period. I was thinking that I made the wrong choice.
Apparently, a lot of students do the same. 
We always wonder what it's like on the other side? But kept reminding myself about the feeling I had when I toured my school for the first time. I had that gut feeling that Wake Forest was the place for me. 
And it absolutely is. 

Fact: Your Sorority doesn't define who you are
Instant sisters, endless events and t-shirts, cliché poses for photos... Greek life is the best! It gives you a sense of belonging while making the transition to college. My sorority definitely picked me up during my rough time during the beginning of this semester! I love everyone in my sorority, but what I've learned is that a couple of greek letters do not define who I am. 
What do I mean by this? Every sorority has a stereotype or some kind of ranking. For example, my sorority is known as the "smart girls who don't know how to have fun." I like school, not gonna lie about that one. But I sometimes feel insecure when I want to go dancing one night; Am I fun? What if people think I'm a buzz kill because of my sorority? 
But I am not defined by the sorority's stereotype. I'm Betsy; a girl who spends way to much time on Pinterest and has specific and unique to say the least dance moves to "Uptown Funk." I definitely have my moments of fun, just not all of the time!
And just because you wear different stitched letters on t-shirts than other girls doesn't mean you can't be good friends with them. That's one thing I love about Wake: the sorority you're in doesn't have to dictate your friends and your social obligations. In fact, some of my best friends are in different sororities than me or not even in one! It keeps my well rounded and reminds me there is a life outside greek life. After all, your sorority won't determine the rest of future after graduation; you heart and determination, however, will. 

Myth and Fact: College will be the best four years of your life
Oh high expectations, my worst enemy.... 
For some, yes, college is the best four years. For others, it's not. All of the above are completely legitament statements! I might be in-between the two. College perhaps won't be the best four years of my life; I'm not a crazy partier and I tend to prioritize my academics and extra curriculars over social engagements. At the same time, I did meet some incredible people over the past few months. It is what it is. Make your own fun if you're like me and find people who will do the same.

So, there you have it, folks. The fifteen things I learned from this crazy year. I look back and think about everything that has happened to me. I've had some fantastic moments like meeting wonderful friends, making the Dean's List, receiving a bid from the sorority I had fallen in love with from the beginning, and getting involved within the Wake Forest Community. 

I also had some very rough moments like coping with loneliness and a lack of belonging and self confidence. I also lost my grandmother last winter while in the middle of losing my passion for ballet. All of these feelings: loneliness, self doubt, humiliation, and despair spiraled into depression.
 Yes, I was diagnosed with depression. 

If you had met me previously  you would be shocked at this information; everyone describes me as "a happy and sweet person." 

However, I was completely different. Smiling took twice as much energy force and real laughter only happened on rare occasions.
 It was exhausting to put up a front all of the time. 

But, today, I'm happy. I found friends and support from those who truly matter in my life. I have a passion for dancing again and a lot of incredible opportunities to look forward to this summer.

So, the biggest thing I learned from freshman year: 
It's 100% cliché, I know! But it's 100% true. 
If I had told my friends I was struggling instead of trying to fit in and be perfect, I would've had a completely different experience. 

But you know what? You live and you learn about others, the environment and yourself. Enjoy the bumpy and thrilling ride that is called "freshman year." As hard as it was, I wouldn't have wanted to experience any other way!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for reading! 


  1. I love this! I couldn't agree more with these aspects of freshman year even though I go to a public, state school! Thank you for summing it up perfectly!
    Mallory |

    1. THANK YOU for your wonderful feedback! So glad you enjoyed the post! Everyone definitely has a different experience! I just hope my story helps future freshman cope with this rough transition :)