As a college senior who is 30 days away from graduating (but it’s not like anyone is counting…), I feel like I have reached my peak level of college experiences. You know, the whole “older and wiser” thing. (Even though I still don’t feel like an adult. When does that happen?) So, I thought I’d share some of the unexpected things that have happened to me during the past four years, all of which have ultimately helped me learn and grow.
1. I made really, really good friends.
Turns out, the two best friends I made in college (who are currently my roommates) were both girls who lived in my hall freshman year. But that’s not even how we met! I met Sara during Odyssey and I met Lizzie in math class. Crazy, right? I can’t imagine my life without them. I’ve also become really close with many co-workers, classmates and other people I’ve met through living in the residence halls, playing intramural sports and attending campus events.
2. I got really particular with my laundry.
Who am I? What have I become? Before college, I never did my own laundry (thanks, Mom!). I now separate each load by color and am really picky about which things should be put in the dryer and which things should NEVER be put in the dryer. I change temperature settings and use dryer sheets and all of these things make me feel like an adult.
3. I learned how to speak up.
In high school — and for as long as I can remember prior to then, actually — I always went along with whatever anyone was saying or doing because I was too nervous to rock the boat. The classes I’ve taken and professors and experiences I’ve had in college have helped me grow into a person who isn’t afraid to speak up for myself. I guess I’ve become more confident in that sense, because I’m no longer worried that people will get mad at me if I disagree with something. It’s a nice feeling to stand up for yourself and what you believe in!
4. I became a vegetarian.
This was weird. For as long as I can remember, I hated vegetables and any food that might be considered healthy. But at the start of the second semester of my junior year, I decided to stop eating meat for both ethical and environmental reasons. That semester, I chose to write my huge English 312 research paper on the sustainability of plant-based versus meat-based diets. This was so helpful because it validated and reaffirmed my decision to stop eating meat and also made me more educated about the topic!
5. I added, almost added and dropped major(s)/minor(s).
I was SO sure of what I wanted to do when I came into college. I declared a journalism major with a Spanish minor right away on my Odyssey day. Then halfway through freshman year, I added a second minor: English with a creative writing emphasis. I dropped that my sophomore year, but then thought, “Wait, do I want to be an Elementary Education major?!” After many conversations with advisers, professors and my family, I decided to stick with journalism. Now, as I’m about to graduate, I know that was definitely the best choice I could have made for myself. Lesson learned: Always go with your gut!
6. I started playing soccer.
Growing up, I was involved in basketball, softball, volleyball and track. I did not like soccer. I thought it was boring to watch, I didn’t understand it and it frustrated me that it was always a struggle for me in gym class. But when I was asked to join an intramural soccer team with friends during my junior year, I thought, why not! After a while, I realized how much fun I was having, and that I was improving! My roommate helped me practice outside of games because I wanted to get better not just for myself, but for the team. That experience helped whip me into shape, brought me some new friendships and taught me to always keep an open mind about things!
7. I learned how to be alone.
My first year of college, I was always terrified that I would have to eat a meal alone. The next year, I would not go to the Rec or the library unless a friend came with me. But once I moved into an apartment my junior year, I started to get more independent and do things on my own. I started to like spending time by myself: going on bike rides, laying around outside with a good book, cooking myself dinner, going to the laundromat, etc. I still like spending time with my friends, don’t get me wrong! But I discovered the importance of not only being able to do things by myself, but enjoying that time alone with just me.
8. I slowly started to hate Ramen noodles.
I never thought I’d get sick of Ramen. It was the perfect meal: quick, cheap, easy, delicious. But because of that, I made it ALL the time in my res hall room my freshman and sophomore years. Like, I bought those big boxes and went through one per month. I’m not proud to admit that, but it’s true. And now thinking or talking about Ramen makes me queasy…which is why I’m going to move on to #9.
9. I actually used a planner.
Used would be an understatement, actually. My planner has been my life in college! I never really used them in high school because I didn’t really have that much going on, I guess. But now, using a planner is the only way I’ve been able to keep track of all of my assignments, projects, events and meetings. If I didn’t write everything down in my planner, I definitely would have missed meetings, been late on some deadlines and in general forgotten EVERYTHING. My planner saved my life in college and now I will always use one!
10. I figured out who I am.
As cliche as it sounds, it’s true! I always heard people say that you would “find yourself” in college, but I always thought I knew who I was. It wasn’t until this year that I looked back and realized that I did, in fact, find myself. I am so sure of the career path that I’m going down. I am more aware and educated about global issues and politics than I was before college. I know what’s important to me in life. I work well in team settings, but I also love the responsibility of being a leader. I am more appreciative than ever of my parents and my upbringing. I love cats and singing and fresh fruit and traveling. I am excited about my future.