Transitions are scary. My stomach was in knots during the week approaching college, overwhelmed by the mixed feelings of excitement for what was to come and an uneasiness in letting go of the past. My hopes were high in my arrival to Penn State, but in the start of freshmen year I was starting to feel let down.
Besides my difficulty with the immense amount of name games, my biggest worries at that time were the occasional English 15 paper and what sort of meditation activity I was doing in Bi Sci 03 that day. I felt extremely lazy, which was accurately represented by my binge watching of all the seasons of Game of Thrones.
I was waiting for an opportunity to come to get involved. After a rejection from club lacrosse, I felt discouraged in finding where I belonged at school, as I always depended on sports to build bonds in high school.
At a school with over 40,000 students that has more than 1,000 clubs, I was still keeping myself from getting involved. This made my first regret of freshmen year clear — not joining Penn State opportunities sooner.
I eventually signed up for The Daily Collegian and went through training the upcoming semester, I signed up for ATLAS, Bucket List Club, 46 Live, Spoon University, got a job and probably signed up for more clubs that I never gave another thought.
I did not stick with all of clubs, as it would be too overwhelming, but I did some trial and error to find the places I loved to be. It is much better to try something and quit, then never try at all, as one could ride through college without being involved and regret it later.
In strong correlation with my isolation freshmen year, was my immense amount of naps. I used to consider myself a talented napper as I was able to take 20-minute power naps and still go along with my day.
But there was a transition in my napping habits when I came to college. They were instead two, three and sometimes four hours of my day, waking up at nighttime in the hot sweat of confusion and all my homework to do. My naps turned into deep sleeps instead of the necessary lifter uppers.
By my second semester I had to put myself through “Nap Rehab,” not allowing myself to even sit on my bed — knowing it would turn into an unnecessary nap.
A regret from freshman year regarding classes — which I have already fixed for this year — was not introducing myself to the people around me in class. There are some people who are perfectly content with going to class, staying quiet and leaving, but what I have now realized is that if you introduce yourself to them, they won’t be angry.
Out of about five of my big freshmen year lectures, I only spoke to those around me in two of them. A simple introduction in the beginning days of class can have so many benefits, as having friends in classes can be helpful and make the experience more fun. When in big lectures, it can feel very easy to not create relationships, but I found myself wanting to go to my lectures with friends rather than by myself a lot more.
Going along with my fear of introductions, I also did not bond with those on my dorm floor. I had friends that I would visit often and was best friends with my roommate, but I never felt the big group bond in my college home.
I found the independent college environment can make it easy to not know those around you — even those living next door to you. While some luck out more than others in finding compatible friends on their floor, more introductions and socialness in the beginning of the school year makes for an overall better dorm experience with those you are (in some cases) sharing bathrooms with.
My last regret from freshman year is one that I am dealing with now – choosing my living for sophomore year too soon.
As October of last year approached, all that anyone could talk about was stressing about where they are living for the upcoming year. I thought I had to choose my living quickly, now living in a two-bedroom apartment with five people. Although I love my roommates, it would have been nice to know most housing arrangements don’t have to be decided as early in the year as I once thought.
Some limited or popular living areas need quicker decisions, such as Beaver Hill, the Diplomat, the Rise, etc., and even need to create a wait list of potential residents. In this case, living situations are needed to be chosen quickly, but there are many places that do not fill up nearly as fast.
Deciding your living situation is a very big choice to make, and requires a lot of consideration to find the right one. I found out that my apartment requires you to pay for utilities, wi-fi, and more that are not included in the rent, which would have impacted my decision.
Freshmen year was certainly a learning experience. It taught me how to be successful in school and find the friends and groups I wanted to be a part of. While I went through my fair share of regrets and mistakes, learning from them will ensure my time in school is only going uphill from here.