My first year of university was by far one of the most challenging years of my life, first semester in particular. New country. New people. New problems. I often found myself lost physically, academically and emotionally. Everyone warns you about the drastic change in environment but nothing could have prepared me for the challenges I faced. I learned too many lessons the hard way. Having come out on the other side a stronger me, I hope the advice I will continue to share will give you an idea of the long road ahead.
1. Don’t try to fit in; Be true to yourself
Studying abroad with my best friend as the only person I knew in the country was so hard at first. I found myself liming with the “cool kids”, doing things to gain and keep their friendship. But that wasn’t the person I really was. With guidance and grounding of my best friend, I was back to myself by second semester. The first impression I had created, however, was and still is hard to shake. Nothing is worth losing yourself for. Let people like, hate, ignore or respect your for who you really are.
2. Go to all your classes-ALL!
The one class I missed for my Communication course turned out to be the basis of a crucial mid-semester pop quiz which I barely passed. It could be the one day your lecturer gives sample questions for finals or one time she decides to treat the class. Either way, you’ll be missing out an awesome opportunity. Rain, shine, late or hungry, just get there.
3. The Freshman “15” is REAL
At UWI, we’re called First Years, not freshmen, but either way many of us still packed on the pounds. Away from parents, you get to buy whatever you want to eat and it’s so easy to get carried away. Campus food is not your friend; it too pricey, oily and just too much! If you have time to food, you have time to make food. Balance healthy eating with exercise to keep off the weight. A little effort goes a long way.
4. College partying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
I live next to the Students’ Union where free parties are held weekly. Needless to say I was there without fail during first semester. But the annoying advances of drunk men and the same old songs got boring and I stopped going. Best decision ever. Not only was I wasting 2 hours every week, but also good outfits. The rep of hard partying gains you no respect or reverence.
5. College is expensive; save when you can
I didn’t realize how expensive it is to go university until my Jamaican friends told me how much they pay for tuition. Government subsidies leave me in the dark bout the figures. Save at every chance you get; download text books, do your own hair, split taxi fares with friends. Everything adds up. The money you save will come in handy.
6. You will miss home
Living on your own is liberating but sometimes you just wish you could wake up in your own bed to your mother’s cooking and your little brother’s snoring. Most of my friends on hall live far away but they go home at least once a month. Living across the Caribbean, I don’t go home 5 months at a time. The phone calls, Skyping and pictures help a lot but at the end of the semester, you can’t wait to go home.ღ