the college survival guide

So I had this idea at 4 AM the other night, and woke up and wrote pretty much this whole thing. It’s a lot, I know, and in no particular order, but here is some advice for before you start your freshman year of college because its one wild ride. You’re welcome:

Number one, welcome week is going to be insane (especially after we’ve all been in quarantine), so take it as it comes and enjoy yourself, because the academics are about to whoop your ass. Also, utilize this time to meet as many people as you can. I met some of my best friends during welcome week!

If you haven’t already picked a roommate, I suggest rooming with someone you meet in the facebook group or someone who isn’t from your high school/in your immediate circle of friends. Coming from a high school where a lot of kids went to Michigan, I wanted to branch out and start fresh. Going in with someone you don’t know well can be so good because it pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to meet new people. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I love Georgie with all my heart. I really could not have had a better experience with it. Here’s a cute pic of us:

Leave your door open during the first few weeks and get to know people in your hall. There are a lot of social dorms at umich, but I lived in a dorm where it wasn’t that social, and I wished I had made it more social and actually met the girls in my hall. One of my family friends randomly lived down the hall from me, and her roommate was in nursing. (Mak and Nat I miss you 😦 ) We became so close so fast, but besides them, I really didn’t know many of them. I had neighbors from hell, on both sides. I maybe met them once, but if we had become friends or even just acquaintances, I would have been able to face them and tell them what was wrong instead of all of us being passive aggressive about it. For example, one of the girls would leave her alarm running for literally an hour at a time, and I’m not even exaggerating. It was like that triggering alarm sound too, and it would go off for so long. Another time, my neighbors went out the week of finals, and came back at 4 am, blasted music, and played spin the bottle for an hour with random guys. And I had an early class the next morning. So yeah, become friends with your neighbors. It will make your life so much easier.

Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed with work, focus on time management and don’t put things off until the last minute. Time management was something that I really struggled with in high school, but learning to balance my social life with my academics was one of the best things freshman year taught me. Take it slow, work at your own pace, and don’t feel like you need to compete with your classmates.

Have a safe word at parties, and keep your friends close. Pick something that can be casually brought up in conversation, and never leave your girls hanging. Getting split up is really stressful and can be bad, especially if you’re put in a situation that makes you feel unsafe. Get each other’s locations, so that if you do get split up, you can find each other. And always have your phone charged before you go out!! Also, never walk alone at night. And if there is no way for you to avoid it, call a Lyft (they do background checks) or be on the phone with a friend until you are safe.

Find your balance. Don’t be going out 4 nights a week if you’re taking 18 credits and swamped in work. Finding the balance between school and your social life is the key to your happiness in college. It’s okay if your friends go out and you don’t, there will always be another opportunity. Prioritizing what is best for you is hard, but its definitely a lesson I’ve learned over the last year.

the familiar and the unknown

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written anything, and I always have the tendency to write when I’m either bored or traumatized. Because the events that have ensued within the last few weeks have resulted in both extreme boredom and trauma, I decided to do a brain vomit. The ironic thing about all of this is that I have been gradually working on a blog post all about changes since last May, and this definitely has to have been one of the most drastic changes a lot of us will ever experience in our lifetime. So I thought, why not finally post it? But with some adjustments, of course.

One thing to know about me: I’m absolutely terrified of change. I plan everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything. And when things don’t follow my plan, I become anxious and tend to hole myself up in my room until the storm passes. Which is exactly what we’re all supposed to be doing right now, but in this case I’m not exactly enjoying it. Once I get into a routine, I do not want to switch out of it, especially when I’m not expecting it. 

This past year has been all about me adjusting my routine, which has been stressful for me mentally, but is ultimately what led me down my path toward happiness and self discovery. Being away at school has done a lot of good for my mental health and gave me a new sense of self confidence and awareness that I’ve never had before. 

I wrote a journal entry style blog post, but decided that wasn’t exactly what I wanted this post to only be. It’s been very gradual and spread out, but I think it still has some potential there. I really started reflecting on my thoughts about change when I moved out of my childhood home last May, ironically, the day after my high school graduation. It was like a rite of passage, a sign that I was going to breakeven and start fresh. But I was so opposed to moving because my house had always been a constant in my life, and I was scared of what my life would be like if it just wasn’t there anymore. Here are my thoughts from the night before the move:

what is life?

I don’t write like I should. I love to write, but the excuse of “not having enough time” always seems to come up. I have decided that that just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. I’m starting this on a Friday night. It is currently 6:51 PM. I am sitting on my couch, reading a book, and suddenly became ~inspired~ to write about something that has been on my mind a while.

With the recent tragedy in my community, and other more personal issues that have passed me in the last few months, or, scratch that, the last few years, I have come around to one unanswerable, universal question: what is life?

I found myself asking a close childhood friend this question after he shared the news of the recent suicide of our neighbor, friend, and bus buddy all throughout grade school. I was shocked. Sam was the most happy-go-lucky kid I had ever met in my life. He always was the class clown, constantly making everyone on bus 670 laugh everyday. Even as I am sitting here right now, I cannot believe this reality. He was a light in this world for all of us, and he will be dearly missed by everyone he touched in his life. At the ripe age of 16, his future was bright, but no one knows what is really going on in a person’s life behind closed doors.

“the look”

[This is a creative nonfiction essay that I wrote for my AP Composition class, and I decided I wanted to post it as my first official blog post.]

“I could feel everybody watching us, wondering what was wrong with us, and whether it would kill us, and how heroic my mom must be, and everything else. That was the worst part about having cancer, sometimes: The physical evidence of disease separates you from other people. We were irreconcilably other, and never was it more obvious than when the three of us walked through the empty plane, the stewardess nodding sympathetically and gesturing us toward our row in the distant back.”

-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I most clearly remember the feeling. There are not a lot of things that I clearly remember about the past year of my life, but this is definitely something I could never forget. I could feel it radiating off of them: the feeling of pity, of sorrow, of relentless sympathy, with their heads slightly tilted and a concerned, but interested pout plastered across their face, saying “I’m so sorry you are going through this”. But all the while having the knowledge that he or she is thanking God in that exact moment that it is not them or their child or grandchild or friend who is bearing the burden I had to bear. I could feel the acid of animosity rise up through my insides and burn holes through my skull, trying so hard to force the reaction I most want to give out of me; but, as always, I swallow back the vile temptation and smile. A shocked expression flashes across their face for a fraction of a second, surprised by my reaction, quickly followed by a sympathetic smile. At this point, my smile softens and I slowly look away, averting my eyes to something that will seem more interesting. Be sure to take the term ‘smile’ very lightly in this case, because for half the year my smile was (and still is) recovering. For a few months after my surgery, the left side of my face hardly moved at all. This was just one of the things about me that stood out, aside from the fact I was completely hairless (and still one quarter bald), way too skinny, don’t eat normally (for now), very pale, swollen for some time, covered in scars, and now temporarily cheekless. Why wouldn’t they stare? They arguably have good reason to. It’s almost like I am a circus clown, walking around in my costume 24/7.