Looking back over my first semester not only at Christopher Newport University, but also at college in general, I have noticed quite a few lessons that I will be taking with me into the spring semester
- It’s OK to cry a lot. If strange experiences make you cry, this relates to you. If being sick away from home makes you cry, this relates to you. If stress makes you cry, this relates to you. You will cry a lot, but the great news is that you feel so much better once you’ve cried it out.
- You won’t get along with everyone. You’re going to have classes where you absolutely want to tape shut the mouth of the individual next to you. You’ll be in organizations where someone just doesn’t want to be your friend. That’s OK – you’re on a campus of 5,000 people. Don’t let the people who don’t appreciate you bring you down.
- Make flash cards for everything. Literally everything. And then practice them three times a day. Or four or five. Flashcards helped me get a final grade that brought my B to an A. Take notes on flash cards, if you want to save time. I learned that at the end of the semester, after transferring 40 pages of notes onto a 150 flash cards.
- Accept the failures you encounter. You aren’t going to ace every test, every group project, every essay. You aren’t even going to get a B on every test. You may meet the day when you celebrate getting a C. There will be days when you just aren’t prepared, and there will be days when you feel prepared and get surprised by your grade dropping two letters. Learn to be prepared for it.
- Don’t let you failures control you. Likewise, don’t assume there’s nothing you can do about your failures. An A can make your grade jump right back up in the other direction. So can talking to your professor to help you understand the material on a deeper level.
- Even if extra-terrestrial life is out there, our race will likely be extinct by the time they contact us back. This is the most interesting fact I learned from my astronomy class, which was somewhat sad and somewhat relieving. At least we know we won’t have to experience a real-life “Independence Day.”
- You will have a go-to meal, and eat way too much of it. Life gets stupid busy, and you’ll start taking time out of activities you deem less-important to add time to what you consider more important. For me, this meant having a go-to meal of rice and salad. While being surprisingly delicious, those items are also in the shortest lines in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, your go-to meal will likely end up being what you eat all-day every-day on busy weeks.
- Appreciate down time when you have it, because chances are you won’t. The thing I’ve experienced least at Christopher Newport University is time to relax, which is disappointing considering there is a beach 20 minutes from my room. However, that’s what will happen when you get involved and are devoted to your academics. So when you have down time, appreciate it. Don’t waste it on your phone, or sleeping.
- You don’t need a lot of people, just find that one person who is there for you. People who focus on having huge social circles usually end up feeling alone because of how surface-level their friendships are. Don’t feel lonely because you have only one or two friends. Just focus on finding that small group – which might even only be one person! – and growing lasting relationships that won’t change the minute you live on different halls.