Words of advice

By Jaron Lewin Berlin

I’ve learned a lot in my time at college. When I first started school I knew that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but I took my time and discovered that what really matters is finding out what you love to do.

I love to write. I’ve known that I enjoyed writing since I started writing stories as a child, but I never thought that it would be something I’d want to do with my life. At first all I thought about was getting in a situation where I’d be able to make as much money as possible, but eventually, after almost getting involved in business school I realized that money wasn’t as important as being able to enjoy life. There are so many different programs available at the University of Massachusetts and any college really that if you aren’t sure about what you do want to do, you should experiment with different programs and see what you actually enjoy doing.

Study abroad: I went to Spain one summer and had one of the best times of my life. Not only did I have a lot of fun, but I learned a lot about the world by seeing how other cultures function differently than our own. In Spain, bars and clubs are open until eight in the morning or later. To make up for this, they have a siesta during each day where stores close from about two to seven and a lot of people go to sleep and recover from the night before. Some people who went to Spain discovered they enjoyed the lifestyle so much they went back there to work. I’m not saying that’s what I decided but you’d never know about it if you never experience it.

Schoolwork is important, but the social aspect of college life is essential as well. Some people grow up in the same group of friends and are in a position to make friends with entirely new types of people in college. Don’t waste that opportunity. You never know what you might learn about life from someone with a different background. If you have an open mind you might gain knowledge about how important some of your beliefs actually are (or aren’t).

It’s important to always be growing and improving in life, and in the time I spent at UMass I did a lot of both. I’ve learned about all sorts of things in academics. I’ve learned how to express my ideas in an essay and how to express my ideas in a conversation. I’ve learned about the importance of finding something to like in every class, even ones I initially find incredibly boring and I’ve learned how to find something I like about people I initially don’t get along with. I’ve learned about geometry, Spanish, English, psychology, drama, women, dealing with boredom, socializing, friendship and life, among other things.

Another thing I learned is to make the best out of every situation. Sure, that boring class about old English might suck, but maybe there’s a cute girl (or guy) you might get along with. That party might’ve gotten broken up too soon, but maybe there’s a better one on the way home.

Also, never get too down on yourself if you mess up. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. It’s important to be aware of that and to learn something every time you mess something up. I don’t know anyone who never makes mistakes, but I do know some people who are too stubborn to learn a lesson from them. No matter what you do, you’re going to have some regrets, whether you regret doing something or not doing something. It’s important to understand why you have that regret and to make sure you act differently when you get in a similar situation.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.

Jaron Lewin-Berlin was a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]