What I’ve Learned from the First Semester of College

It’s the beginning of February, which means somehow, I’ve finished my first semester of college and I’ve settled into my second. Even with the hustle and bustle of college life, the classes that are picking up speed, and all of the meetings I find myself at, I still think it’s important to reflect on the past. I moved from New York to Virginia, and found myself in what I would call the middle of nowhere, a small town in Virginia.

The four months of first semester were unbelievable, not in the “I’ve found my best friends forever and I’ve partied every weekend away,” just that I was overwhelmed with change, and I felt like it was an unusual adjustment. The hard part isn’t packing your suitcase and leaving your hometown for a new place, settling into a new environment, or even being away from home.

The hard part is having to build new friendships, to find yourself in a place where you look nothing like the people around you, where you’re overwhelmed by the amount of homework, so the idea of having fun hasn’t even popped in your mind when you can’t even find time to study. Truthfully, my second semester self still feels like she’s got a lot to learn.

Either way, my new normal is quite an experience. But I figured I’ve learned a lot that I wanted to reflect on.

Related Post: Reflection on my first year of college + Tips for freshmen year

Lessons learned from first semester

// Starting new routines are easy, but building a new life isn’t. //

In high school, I never made my bed. I would wake up, brush my teeth, get dressed and head out the door leaving my bed just as it was. In college, I wake up, get dressed, pray and read my Bible, and then I fix my bed. Even being home for break, I didn’t fix my bed. Something about shifting my space has made it easier for  my brain to adjust to new habits I want to acquire.

First semester, I procrastinated a lot because I was overwhelmed and I didn’t feel like I connected to a lot of people early on. The first few weeks you meet a lot of people but you don’t really get to know them. It wasn’t until later on I met more upperclassmen who were super kind to me and I got to enjoy their company for the last few weeks of the semester.

// Have intentional rest time //

The first thing to go in college is sleep. When you stay up late, you wake up feeling exhausted and getting through classes the next day is increasingly difficult. Additionally, always being productive leads to burnout. Rest is a natural rhythm of life. There is a reason for each day we need sleep. Rest could be picking up a book instead of scrolling through your phone. You could play a game with friends. Anything to let your mind rest is key to your success.

Related Post: What I Learned in 2018

// Discipline hurts but its rewards are golden //

I loved to watch Netflix first semester. Me and my roommate watched season one of The Good Place in one night. My hall loved watching American Horror Story. As much as we love Netflix binges, I neglected a lot of homework and the procrastination stressed me out. I wrote my first paper for my philosophy class the night before. I was up until 3 in the morning. And I turned it in late. Your present self will hate you if you don’t watch the Bachelor right now, but honestly, you will enjoy it more when you don’t have any work hanging over your head.

// College moves fast //

Here I am in second semester, the middle of my 4th week of school. And I know 4th years who say all the time that college just moves so quickly, The days feel really long because classes are an hour and half, sometimes, and then you have clubs and then you try to eat with friends. It’s a lot and then you do it over and over, and somehow, the days fly by. Make the most of all of it. It doesn’t always feel amazing, but it’s a formative time.

Related Post: The Importance of Rest

// Priorities change //

I went into first semester thinking I would be super dedicated to my schoolwork and I would be studying every weekend. Needless to say, I had decent grades first semester, but my focus started to shift. Being all about grades didn’t fulfill me. I ached for friendships and community. The second half of my semester was about the pursuit of friendships. Even now, I care about the work I do, but more than that, I care about who I’m surrounding myself with.

College is a challenging, frustrating, fun, sleep-depriving, laugh of loud experience – and first semester showed me a lot. I’m looking forward to the next few years at college to learn and grow more.


Signing off, Gigi

What has college taught you? What is one memory you walked away with? How do those lessons help you approach your life now?

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