I’m just gonna say it. College, so far, is not at all what I expected it to be like. It’s not like the movies show it, it’s not like teachers describe, and it’s definitely not what I thought it would be. To be fair though, I wasn’t completely sure what I was signing up for. Going in I thought it was going to be this monumental thing; like in one instant everything would be different and my life would change drastically. Maybe it hasn’t “hit me” yet, but I’m starting to think there’s nothing really here to hit me. At some points it feels exactly like high school and at others I’m reminded that I’m living on my own. It’s a strange experience that I can’t decide one way or another about. Is it good? Is it bad? Am I prepared for this? What’s happening? How can my life feel like its falling apart and feel completely handled at the same time? I can’t seem to decide.
Let’s start with classes. Maybe it’s just cause I’m a freshman, or maybe high school did a really good job of preparing me for college, but most of the time it doesn’t feel different at all. You go to class, you listen to a teacher/professor, and you leave, most of the time with homework. The class workload doesn’t magically multiply exponentially between senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Is it an increase? Kind of. I would say I have a little more homework per class (though in some I have none), but I also have a lot less class. I see my professors for 150 minutes every week divided between either two or three class periods. That’s one difference, and the other major one is the scheduling. In high school, everything is lumped together. In college, I got to choose what time I wanted my classes, and I don’t know where I stand on how I organized mine. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have three 50 minute classes starting at 9:30, 12:30, and 4:30. On Tuesday and Thursday, I have two 75 minute courses starting at 9:00 and 12:00. I didn’t lump my classes together, so I have 2-3 hour breaks between classes until I finish at the end of the day. On one hand, this is awesome because it’s less overloaded and I get a little relaxation or cool down time between each class. The down side is I have to do a lot more walking and I don’t have time to do any more prolonged activities, like a job, study time, or nap time. I don’t know how I feel about my schedule, because I’m not overloaded, but I’m always having to stave things off because I know I have another class. Then add into the mix my scholarship requirements. I have to maintain a 3.75 GPA, log service hours, and participate in a book club. It’s not just about passing the classes or doing well in the classes, I have to excel in my classes and be a good citizen. I’m all for both of those, but I find it easier to excel when I don’t have a bar to meet that threatens to take thousands of dollars away if I don’t get there.
Let’s combine that with living quarters. I no longer live with my family, I no longer live in a house, and I no longer live in Colorado. I thought that much change would be really different, but it’s not really. I was expecting my first night to be foreign, but I’ve spent a lot of time away from home before, and it just feels like another vacation or camping trip or something. It’s not really that new, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I kind of wanted living on my own to feel like an adventure, but it’s not really. But it might be a good thing, because if this was a big change, then I might have even more stress than I already have. Walking to and from my dorm is just like leaving for school in the morning, I just have to do everything myself, which I thought was going to be weird, but I just do it. It’s not a big deal. I did my first load of laundry last week, and nothing happened. No drier fires, no chorus of angels, nothing extraordinary. Just a big ball of slightly damp clothing. I eat dinner every night in the dining hall, or I cook my own food, and it’s nothing I haven’t really done before. So much is provided for me that in a way it’s like I’m still living at home. But I’m not. I have a roommate and a bunch of new people around me that I have to share living quarters with, but even that isn’t super strange. I spend so much of my time around my friends, and away from my friends for that matter, that being in this space isn’t really that weird. It just is what it is, and I can’t identify that, which makes me mad.
I don’t really know how to articulate this well. I feel like my words aren’t conveying my expectations correctly, or the sense of normalcy well. I feel completely normal, as though nothing has changed, when everything has changed, and I don’t know how to feel about that. I’m still tired all the time, I still have homework and school, I still see my friends a lot, I eat dinner, nothing has really changed except for the location I’m doing those things and who I’m doing them with. I thought that would be a big enough change to warrant some sense of adventure or the feeling that I was in something new. But it doesn’t feel new, it feels like the same song I’ve been singing all my life, just in a different octave.
Add in the really stressful stuff now, or what I’m going to call opportunity and responsibility. I have this opportunity now to do whatever I want. I can go to Salt Lake City on the weekends if I want to. I can stay up all night without anyone lecturing me. I could ditch class and never hear a word from a teacher or the school. Everything is on me now, but I haven’t been abusing this opportunity. Whether I should or not is open for debate, but I haven’t. There are some things I know I need to do but haven’t quite done yet. For one thing, laundry is kind of an example, but the bigger ones are managing finances and my health. I have to get a job, but I have no job experience which lowers my chances of finding a job. I also have to get to that job, and all I have at my disposal is a bike, the bus, and my feet, which means the closer the better. The job application thing on the school site for school positions is so confusing and daunting that I’m kind of scared to go back there. I don’t know what half the stuff means, whether I’m qualified, or any of that stuff. But going off campus is more time consuming and it’s harder to get there, and I’m less likely to find an employer willing to work around my weird schedule, so I’m scared to look there. Then, supposing I can find a suitable job, I have to consider the time management and the necessary hours depending on the pay. It’s just kind of a nightmare.
Then we get to the health thing. We’ve all heard of the freshman fifteen, but I really don’t want those. I’m not in the best shape or health as is, and with all this starvation happening at the same time as overeating the junk food, I’m kind of worried about how my health will turn out. But health is a tricky thing, especially with these bullshit meal plans that give me one meal a day. I have to find time to exercise, and I have to improve my diet. But to improve my diet, I have to give up really tasty things that I want to eat in exchange for less tasty stuff. I bought a cheap diet and workout plan that I want to start next week, but in order to do that, I have to change a lot of things. I have to get up earlier to workout (which means sleeping earlier to avoid dying, which then means less social time because I have to do homework instead), I have to count calories and monitor everything I put into my body, and because the meal plans are really dumb, I have to go buy a lot of the food for myself. Even though there are guides and recipes and things like that, I have no idea how to eat optimally. Not right, but optimally, because apparently there’s more to it than eat vegetables, meats, and fruits. Different kinds of oils, nuts, different meats, different methods of cooking, toasting, blending, bla bla bla. I’m on a limited budget, so the prospect of having to buy food and eat a LOT of it makes it sound expensive, which means more hours that need to be worked which just compounds on all the other things. I’ve never done this kind of stuff before, and maybe it’s just fear. Maybe I really can handle this stuff but I’m psyching myself out before I even try it.
I also just don’t have a big network of resources to turn to for some of this stuff. For classes, I don’t know anyone in them so study buddies isn’t likely, I don’t really have anyone but the career department here to help with finding a job that works with my schedule, the “food situation” is against me, I don’t have anyone to help me figure this diet and workout thing out. Long story short is that I feel like I’m drowning in stuff right now without a life preserver in reach.
A lot of that sounds like bad stuff. I probably sound like I’m miserable, but I’m not. Am I ecstatic and buzzing all the time? Of course not. I am, however, not having regrets. I’m still glad I’m here, and I’m having fun as well. Just the other night I played Cards Against Humanity for a little while. It’s a dirty game, but dang is it fun. Just don’t let it go to your head. The campus is really pretty and I enjoy spending time around my friends. I’m going to Intervarsity stuff which gives me things to do and people to see. All in all, I don’t know how I feel about this whole change yet. I feel a lot of things at the same time, but they don’t really add up to a clean cut feeling about this place. I’m drowning and flying at the same time. But I think that’s okay. I’ve only been here for a little over two weeks, and my plan right now involves my living here for four years, so there’s no rush to make an assessment. It’s tough for my analytical mind to not overthink this situation, but I’ll deal. I don’t need to have my entire life figured out as much as I think I need to. It’s tough, but I’ll make it through. C’est’ la vie, right?