A Reflective Piece on My First Month of College
Attending college is a common decision that many students make. Everyone’s college experience will be different depending on several factors including whether they are dorming or commuting, where their university is located, and if they have any friends or peers attending the same institution. Like many other first year students, my first month of college has been overwhelming. In just a few weeks, I have learned a lot about time management and the people around me.
Attending a city school in Washington D.C. without a dining hall posed immediate challenges during the first week of school. From using google maps to get to class to figuring out what to eat required a lot more thought than I imagined. On a regular basis, I have to think about how and what I am going to eat. I have the option to go grocery shopping and make my own food in my dorm hall or purchase meals from restaurants. While eating out all the time is something I do not prefer, purchasing groceries comes out to be just as expensive in the city. Since both options come out to be around the same price, I have to think about whether it is worth it to buy groceries and then spend additional amount of time preparing food. My budget and time is limited and I have to create a system that works for me. After the first couple of weeks, I finally decided on a schedule. I go grocery shopping on Mondays since I only have one class and then use the groceries to make food from Monday-Thursday. On the weekends, I eat out. While I don’t always follow this plan exactly, it roughly outlines the routine I have fallen into. Before college, I had never put this much effort and thought into consuming meals. It is daily tasks like this that has shifted my perception of time. It is daily tasks like this that is allowing me to grow and become slightly more independent.
The academics of college have been a lot to manage. Being an international affairs major, there is so much reading I must complete on a weekly basis. No matter how much I try to manage my time, it seems as if I never have my work done. While this experience does seem rough, it is something that most other students are also experiencing. Being in an environment where you know that you are not alone and are aware that most other students are feeling the same exhaustion does help you push through the day. You end up encouraging each other and taking breaks- probably more often than you should. I have learned that your professors are excellent resources and are there for you. Most professors have office hours and are more than happy to talk to you about any challenges you may be facing, any questions you have, or even about other aspects of college. Their willingness to help has definitely been a reassuring element in my academic experience.
While I have discussed all of the “boring” yet important aspects of college in this article so far, I have to say that in these last few weeks, I have made some of the best memories. There is always something to do in the city or even on campus. One night, I and three other friends I had just met ended up sitting on a random bench just talking for hours until 2am and it was probably one of the most memorable nights of the first week. A couple of weeks ago, I and a friend attended the Library of Congress to do some research for a history paper. In the area, we came across a rug shop. We went inside and ended up talking to the owner about his travels throughout Asia, how he got into selling rugs, and his political and philosophical views for 45 minutes. I have been able to witness several political protests as they occur here almost every day and have been able to go festivals and other cultural events. There have also been several funny memories such as my friend realizing he locked himself out of his room in the middle of the night. There have been several late night snacks with friends as there is a restaurant right below my dorm hall. There are always new people to meet and it is important to give everyone a chance. I was at a student organization meeting and one of my friends from Arabic class was at the meeting as well. It was an organization working to advocate for and help provide resources for refugees. My friend and I were talking about how we were super excited to be a part of the organization and one of the executive board members was so happy to see our enthusiasm. She told us that she would ask us if she needed any extra help in planning events and we were discussing some possible future endeavors. It was especially in that moment that I felt like I really belonged at the school. Finding other individuals and a community where people are just as passionate about the same cause was something that I did not find in high school. It was an amazing feeling to be able to actively communicate and connect with people who related to your drive.
Altogether, college for me has been a bit overwhelming. However, I would not want it any other way. I feel like I am facing extremely common challenges that I know I can work through. I feel like I am meeting some incredible individuals, whom I am learning from. I feel like I am building relationships with the people I encounter on a daily basis. I feel like I am finding my place.