We learn something new each period of our lives and definitely the transition to college is a hard learning experience but a very valuable one. I sometimes think I beat myself up far too much for not getting things right straight from the start. We need to mess up in life, because other wise we’d never learn! Here are some things, split into several categories, that I learned NOT to do again from last semester:
Mistake #1: Being too shy to talk to people. Your first week of school, everyone meets up, talks, exchanges numbers. I clung to the first people I knew, and that was it. I wish I had branched out more. Though I’m really trying to be more friendly and social this semester with floor-mates and classmates, it’s not the same, you need to get to know someone naturally, whereas first time everyone meets, everyone’s expected to just be friendly right off the bat. But I suppose getting to know someone naturally isn’t the worst way- it might be better, it builds more solid friendships.
Mistake #2: Buying food/coffee/drinks out, thinking that “Oh, this one time won’t hurt.” I used to constantly pick up Starbucks between classes, and it ended up totaling almost $400 of my money last semester! It adds up fast, especially since most campuses are overrun with Starbucks. Now I just go to the dining hall, and only eat/drink out if it’s a special date with a friend. And going to vending machines between classes to get a soda also cost a ton, so now I buy a twelve pack and keep it in my room and stash one in my backpack. I’m paying $3.50 for the twelve pack rather than $2.00 every time I go to the vending machine- which would total $24!
Mistake #3: Buying book store textbooks. Renting is a lot better, or if you can, use one of the great new resources that are promoting education for everyone by offering free textbooks alternatives and study guides. I fully support this movement and got involved with this company called Boundless where you can get online textbooks and study tools totally free. Get free online textbooks from Boundless!
Mistake #4: Getting so involved in everything that you don’t have the time to do the things that you really like. Think about it: would you rather be hopping from one thing to another like a confused toad, or would you want to put your heart into what you really love? It’s a double edged sword that there are so many things that I love- I want to do theater or music and some sort of sport as well as my clubs, but I think I’ll switch out semester-semester and stay involved with the ones that mean the most to me. Currently, I am a blogger for the Daily Free Press, the student run newspaper. I also love helping people, and reading Harry Potter, so I’m part of Dumbledore’s Army, a branch of the Harry Potter Alliance that works to promote social justice through the theme of Harry Potter. The group is full of silly, quirky and generally awesome people, and I look forward to every single meeting, because they never cease to make me laugh.
Mistake #5: Saying “I’ll do it when I do it”- I did that in regards to blogging, homework, exercise etc, and got very little done , either skipping it all together or cramming it in at the last minute. Now I mark out times in my schedule. That way I actually start, but I also have an end in sight, so I’m working in stages rather than cramming things in, which makes it seem so long and tedious that I give up !
So those are my learning experiences of last semester, but they don’t just apply to college students like me, they apply to life in general—learning smart ways to save money, manage time, balance social, intellectual, and work lives, all of it matters in making your life a healthy and pleasant state of being.