Farewell freshman year

By Samara Abramson

Time is going by way too fast. It was as if my freshmen year of college was on fast-forward. I went through the motions, did all my homework, took all of my exams, went to a lot of parties, and then suddenly it was over in the blink of an eye.

Hannah Cohen/Collegian

On Monday, I was walking back to my low-rise dorm in Southwest after a political science discussion when I realized it was exactly a year ago on that date that I chose to attend University of Massachusetts. It really is crazy how one decision can change everything.

This provoking thought led me to wonder about fate. Is there such an event as fate or is it all simply coincidence? All the people I met here I never would have known had I chosen a different school. I’m led to believe that maybe fate and coincidence are similar entities, like dream and reality.

What happens in your dreams one night can have a large impact on your mood or thoughts during the next day, which in turn can affect a certain aspect of your life. Similarly, fate and coincidence coincide. Who is to know whether or not fate is not just a coincidence? Or even vice versa, that a coincidence can turn into your fate? Both words have similar connotations to my understanding. But regardless of whether or not it is fate or merely coincidence controlling our lives, what we can all agree on is the fact that one decision leads to an entirely new collection of decisions that would never have even been set in place if not for the first decision. Moreover, had I not chosen to attend UMass Amherst, I would have had a completely different assortment of professors to choose from within my major, and so on.

These even more provoking thoughts led me to reflect upon the expectations of college versus the reality that I am now familiar with.

Before I officially decided on a particular college, the idea appeared to be theoretical. At the time, I had a very limited amount of information regarding what college is really like. Attending university tours and information sessions combined with exposure to the media’s portrayal of college, high school students have a difficult time deciphering between the truths and deceptions. Movies such as “College” and “Animal House” depict college as a wild zoo, filled with blackout nights and sleepless weekends. While on weekend nights this may be the case for some of the students on campus, college is about much more than just wild partying.

However, after viewing movies such as these and then going on college tours, I was very conflicted. The information sessions and tours explained all of the activities, organizations and, of course, academics on campus; but the media had always shown me the animal-like behavior of college students. I didn’t know which representation I wanted to believe in or which one would make me happier.

Once I got on campus in the fall and had the opportunity to explore all that a large university’s campus has to offer, I found that it is not only best to have a healthy balance between studying and partying, but that it is also very possible and prevalent. There are few students who solely party and there are few students who solely study. In order to motivate oneself to do homework and study for exams, it is necessary to also have an exciting social life.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, genuinely looks forward to studying for an exam on a Friday night after a full week of classes and homework. That is why it is important to balance your work schedule in a way that helps a student to have something to look forward to. Even though a boatload of assignments is never exciting, there is no greater feeling in the world than accomplishment followed by reward. As a college student, you just have to say to yourself, “If I get all my homework done by Friday afternoon, I have the rest of the weekend to relax and hang out with my friends.”

And the other thing that I didn’t realize before attending college is that there isn’t really much pressure to drink or smoke if you are not interested. As long as you find a group of people who share similar interests, you are bound to enjoy yourself. An exciting Friday night to one person might include a cab ride to an off-campus party and a late-night order of Wings, while to another person it may simply include pizza and a movie with friends. Whatever a student chooses to do on a Friday or Saturday night, it is important that he or she enjoys his or herself, and takes a break from the stress of the week.

In the end, college was not what I expected at all. And as the year comes to a close, I am faced with the reality of how old I am and how much I have grown. It feels like it was just last week that I threw my cap into the air and celebrated my high school graduation, but somehow a year has quickly passed. The stress of semester’s end assignments and upcoming finals contribute to the student body’s desperate longing for summer. But I can honestly say that I am torn.

Yes, I need a break from the workload, but the bittersweet feeling of knowing I only have three years left at this amazing school leaves me utterly heartbroken. It’s exciting to realize that what was foreign to me a year ago is now all I know and all I love. College did not live up to my expectations; it exceeded them both academically and socially. So, as we count down the days to summer, let us sit back and reflect upon the fate or coincidence or whatever it was that landed us here in this big college town with all of our new friendships and journeys ahead.

I will miss you, freshman year.

Samara Abramson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].