College life is famously romanticized by new-age shows and movies. To some students, it is a pathway of enjoyment and thrill. Even as we step out of our comfort zones, we cannot even begin to fathom how overwhelming the first semester of college can be. It is always the parties and fun that are talked about, never the endless heaps of assignments and extracurriculars we will have to keep up with.
Early Challenges of College
High school is just a trailer of all the exhaustion you will feel; the reality of university is that most of the time, it's double— sometimes even triple— the burnout.
1. Cultural Shock
I thought I could handle any amount of stress because I was emotionally resilient to change. Being comfortable with a stable group of friends is a fantastic thing, but I chose to part with myself because of a desire for self-dependence. If you have done the same thing, you may face the sociological experience of "cultural shock".
Cultural shock is defined as feelings of uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that people may experience when moving to a new country or experiencing a new culture. Here, the new culture is college life.
2. Endless Opportunities
If you are a proactive person who loves participating in anything and everything, college will bring you a massive spectrum of opportunities you would not like to miss. As teenagers, we are blessed to have the rush of passion and enthusiasm that adults so envy. However, in the long run, this enthusiasm can fade away into a lack of interest in basic self-care activities.
3. Impostor Syndrome
If you are a bibliophile and an academic champ, you will inevitably face major self-doubt. You will feel intimidated by the hundreds and thousands of students who are just like you— maybe even better. You will be under constant pressure when trying to be the best of the best, and in that race, you will certainly forget to take care of yourself.
4. Fitting In
If you are an introvert, it will almost always be difficult to fit in. And in college, extroverts will surround you like bees around a beehive. You might feel a little lost, but I am sure you will find your company soon!
Making Things Right
As a student finishing up their first year of university life, here are a few of my tips on overcoming these hurdles!
1. Pick your interests
College will provide you with countless opportunities. You simply have to accept not everything is meant for you. Giving new and exciting stuff a shot is not an issue, but beware of not losing your original self just to fit into everything.
2. Get familiar with failure
Do not be scared of failure— cherish it! Failures are the only things that matter when you are at this vulnerable stage of discovering new possibilities. This may sound a little preachy, but failure is an indication that you are trying. Trust me, it really is.
3. Build connections
The most important thing you can do as a fresher is to get to know your seniors. If you are an introvert, use social media and direct messaging as your means of communication. The amount of knowledge and wisdom you can get from upperclassmen has no comparison. They have gone through what you are facing, and they know it best. You never know, you may just end up being good friends with them, and you can proudly flaunt it!
4. Strike a balance
Striking a balance is something you will have to learn if you want to survive in this competitive world. Be it college's first semester or adulting in general, maintaining a balance between your personal and professional life is essential, and one should know it initially.
5. Take care of yourself
Amidst the hustle and the exhausting schedule of your daily errands, do not forget that you should be a priority, too. Along with the never-ending extracurriculars you take part in, find a comfortable spot where you can relax— a park, terrace, a balcony, or any place where you can sit down and count your blessings. Sit down and pause everything that's going on around you.
This, too, shall pass. The stress, anxiety, cultural shock, and the urge of fitting in will pass. Instead of constantly stressing about it and feeling left out, find your own world in this universe of knowledge. Eventually, you will adjust to this overwhelming side of life before you even know it, and soon, it will be your new normal. Remember to give yourself time and not make any decisions in a hurry!