Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Eight lessons that freshman year taught me

Looking back on my first year at UMass

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Eight lessons that freshman year taught me

(Joe Frank/ Daily Collegian)

(Joe Frank/ Daily Collegian)

(Joe Frank/ Daily Collegian)

(Joe Frank/ Daily Collegian)

By Rithika Senthilkumar, Collegian Columnist

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Coming into freshman year was daunting, and I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t. Navigating the ups and downs of your first year at college is not something that you can prepare for. No amount of YouTube videos or blog posts can truly prepare you for what’s coming. All you can do is lean into it and embrace the experience and hope you don’t make too many mistakes along the way. With that said, the following list is simply a reflection of my freshman year, the lessons that I have learned and the things I have realized as I look back on it.

Your friendships will evolve over the year

When you first arrive on campus, you meet so many new people. Especially during the first few weeks or even the first few months, you are constantly introducing yourself to others and getting to know people better. Eventually, you form a large pool of friends that cannot possibly sustain the friendships within it for the whole year. Some of the friendships that seemed to blossom so well at the beginning start to slowly wither away. You come to realize that your group of friends is significantly smaller compared to the beginning of the year, and it can feel like you did something wrong along the way. However, it is important to realize that it is normal for friendships to evolve and for your “circle” to become smaller. All you can do to help the process is keep an open mind and let the friendships evolve as they do.

Don’t let “FOMO” consume you

No other time have I ever experienced the fear of missing out, or FOMO, to the extent I have in college. One qualm of living with your friends is the desire to always be around them so that you don’t miss the origin of an inside joke, a deep conversation or simply goofing off. Usually, this is no problem. However when it comes to deciding between sleeping/homework/studying and hanging out with your friends, don’t let FOMO get the better of you. 

Be comfortable being alone

 Unlike high school, a lot (if not all) of my time in my first year of college was spent with friends. Being constantly surrounded by people becomes so normalized that being alone, even for a short period of time, can be difficult. You start to enjoy the social company and begin to crave it, and any time when you’re alone can feel empty. However, being alone shouldn’t be uncomfortable; if anything, having a moment to be alone should be cherished because they don’t come around that often.

Explore off-campus more

Especially in a large school like the University of Massachusetts, where the campus itself can feel large enough, it might seem like there is no need to leave campus. However, I didn’t realize until the end of the spring semester just how much Amherst and Northampton had to offer. Reflecting on it now, I wish I had dared to explore the off-campus scene more.

Lock your door at night

This one should seem obvious, but sometimes you forget or get lazy. But trust me, you do not want a surprise visitor in the middle of the night. I speak from experience.

Keep in touch with your high school friends

No matter how close you were to your high school friends, it is difficult to keep in touch and maintain the same connection you had with them while you’re in college. People get busy and involved with their own lives, and preserving these friendships are difficult and require effort. However, keeping in touch with your friends from high school can be rewarding, especially if you’re going through a rough patch and could use someone in your corner. I regret not preserving some of my meaningful friendships from high school, but hopefully it’s not too late to start now.

Pushing yourself is great, but don’t over exhaust yourself

I came into my freshman year with so much zest and motivation, and it did not take me long to find out just how many things I had the opportunity to pursue. I overzealously enrolled in challenging classes and got myself involved in various activities on campus. Soon, I realized that all of those things would constantly be vying for my time and attention, while my motivation would only drop throughout the year. It felt great to be in interesting, engaging classes and also heavily involved in clubs on campus, but I realized soon enough that I got more than I bargained for.

Time really flies by

This is probably one that many, if not all, rising sophomores probably feel at this point in the semester. It feels like just a few days ago that I was unpacking my things in my dorm room, hoping to make it feel like home. Now, in a few days, it will be time to pack up not only my things, but also all of the friendships and memories I have made here over the past year. There is no telling what sophomore year is going to bring, but hopefully my list of lessons at the end of it isn’t as long as this one. I can only wait and see.

Rithika Senthilkumar is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Eight lessons that freshman year taught me”

  1. amy on April 30th, 2019 12:22 am

    Nobody cares.

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