My First Year of College Part I

This is my last week of my first year of college. And boy have I learned some things. I’ve learned how to be strong on my own, but I’ve had my weaker moments. I’ve learned that it’s such a blessing to be where I am doing what I’m doing, and I’ve learned to wake up every day thankful. I’ve also learned some other things that I’d like to share, but the list was so long I had to break it down into two parts. The second list will be published sometime next week, but for now, read up, study, and learn through my eyes just what the first year of college will teach you.

  • 1. Go to office hours.

I am ashamed but I am honest – I didn’t go to any of my professors office hours. It isn’t because they weren’t cool or weird or anything, this was strictly on me and the social anxiety I developed this year. My advice, try something new, don’t let fear stop you from expanding your resources.


  • 2. Sharing a shower/bathroom will always be disgusting.

Especially when the people you live with have darker hair than you. My thin blonde locks did nothing to prepare me for the horror that lies in the shower drain. I recommend not looking down.


  • 3. Try new things.

Go out late at night, wake up early to watch the sunrise. Pet random dogs. Rent a bike. Eat Greek food. Find a dance club. Go to the local church. Wear bright clothes. Join a club. Drive around. Just embrace that you are free now, you make your own rules, and you get to decide how you spend your time.

Walking around Kansas City, embracing our youth and freedom.
  • 4. Eating healthy is hard.

Freshman fifteen? It’s a real thing. There will not be healthy, organic options when you share a mini fridge and don’t have a stove or oven. And for someone with body image issues, this weight gain can knock out ones confidence in less than a week. Prepare yourself for these changes, and know that they aren’t permanent- and a lot of people are feeling the same.


  • 5. Communicate with your roommate.

Establishing a relationship with the person you will be spending the whole year with is so important. We’ve all heard the horror stories, but why haven’t we heard more about the lifelong bonds that were made in that tiny dorm room? Talk to your roommate when you’re feeling weighed down, talk to them if you don’t have anyone else to talk to. They’re likely experiencing the same things as you, and finding commonalities like these will help the friendship grow.


  • 6. Remember an umbrella.

There were far too many mornings when I rushed out the door without grabbing an umbrella, or even a jacket. This can be a day ruiner, folks.


  • 7. Listen to podcasts.

There is a lot of commute time in between classes and to-and-from the dorms. Instead of listening to the top 100 (overplayed) charts, find some free podcasts. They can be humorous or educational, and always entertainment!


  • 8. Embrace differences.

In this unique little community of a campus, there will be people from all over the world walking past. They will believe in different things, eat different foods, and speak different languages. They will study differently and party different and you need to understand that it’s okay to be different. You are here to learn (yes, even about yourself), so don’t get discouraged when you stand out amongst the crowd.


  • 9. Clean your dorm

You would think this is a no-brainer, but procrastination often takes effect through the piles of maybe dirty clothes and plastic silverware. Take just five minutes a day to pick up, do laundry, take the trash out, spray some Febreeze.


  • 10. Don’t waste time between classes.

If you have anything over a thirty minute gap between classes, use it! Chances are, your brain is still in productive mode, and finished assignments by the time you’re done with the day will create a more relaxed and laid-back nighttime vibe rather than the stress to turn it in by 11:59.


  • 11. Read the local newspaper.

This became a habit of mine, and I learned so much about the wonderful town I live in, and the people in it. I read about art fairs and concerts and politics and lots of other opportunities to get out of my dorm and embrace the local culture.

The giant friendly dog I met downtown.
  • 12. The random fire alarm will traumatize you.

More than 4 times, my roommate and I were woken in terror, often after midnight, by the fire alarm ringing through our room and the entire dorm building. A few times we smelled smoke (burnt popcorn always), and were wearing our pajamas and slippers in the Midwest winter nights. Whoever is in charge of this system- fix it. This is so unacceptable.


  • 13. You will lose friends from home.

Extremely sad to come to terms with, but it’s also reality. They will establish their college friends and habits, you, yours. And that’s okay, and healthy! However, come summer, reestablish the bond you had in high school and get together just for old times sake.


  • 14. You are old enough to go to the doctor alone.

This one hurts, but when the situation becomes desperate enough, you will somehow find the strength to get yourself out of bed and limp to the campus doctors clinic. I was even prescribed real antibiotics! Going to scary places like the doctors alone will make you appreciate the comfort of your mother even more.


  • 15. Developing a routine will get you through.

College is full of new things, and this will overwhelm you within the first few hours of moving into the dorms. Develop a routine of when you eat, when you shower, when you make time for homework, and when you get to go out and have fun on the town. In the craziness of college living, establishing a set routine will balance everything out.


There are more life lessons I learned (mostly the hard way) that I’d like to share, so keep an eye out for part two next week. I also move back for the summer next week, so I’m sure the transition will find its way into a blog post or two.

Best wishes,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

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