As we approach the middle of the fifth semester I've been at IU, here's a list of the things I have learned along the way:
1. IU isn't as big as it was the first time I came here.
The first time I stepped on IUB's campus, I hated it. It was too big and there were so many people that I felt overwhelmed by the idea of coming here. Now, three years later, the campus is still big and there are a lot of people (50,000-ish). It does feel a lot smaller, however, when you're walking and someone calls out your name or you see someone from one of your classes. Some days it is nice to be anonymous, but other days, you want to be noticed and that will happen.
2. You don't have to be involved in IU's party culture or Greek life in order to have a "real" college experience.
I was worried that because I don't party and that I didn't join a sorority that my IU experience would be less than one of my peers who is in Greek life and goes out. That's not the case. I feel like I was able to find the right organizations (Culture of Care! The yearbook!) that make my experience unique and how I want to be spending my time.
3. Try everything and if you don't like it, that's ok.
This relates to study habits, food on campus, and organizations. In college, it's your time to figure out how you want to live your life. Experiment, but be safe!
4. It's really hard to keep in touch with your high school friends.
I love my friends from high school. They are some of the kindest and strongest people I know and they got me to where I am today. However, with going to different schools, doing your own thing, and meeting new friends, it's hard to have the same connection you had with them when you were conquering the tribulations of high school together. Just remember it's important to reach out to them with a "thinking of you "text or keep a snapchat group going. You'll feel connected even when you're so far away.
5. You will always discover something new on campus every day.
There are so many nooks and crannies to this campus that it's hard not to feel like an explorer during your commute to class. A great place to explore is the Indiana Memorial Union. That building is filled with bathrooms and rooms just waiting to be discovered.
6. People know Bloomington simply by its beauty (and rightly so!).
Every time I say I go to IU Bloomington, someone can either testify firsthand that we have a beautiful campus or they've heard we have a beautiful campus. IU is a beautiful school and shout out to the people who keep it beautiful! Thanks!
7. The one random class you take a semester will probably be your favorite class.
Every semester, I try to take one random class away from my Journalism and Spanish classes as a way to have an interdisciplinary education but also to try something new. This semester, I took a Sociology of Childhood class and even though I'm not the biggest fan of children, this class has been extremely interesting. It has sparked my interest and it's a class I look forward to every week. There are lots of arts and sports classes as well that can spark creativity or fitness! Just go for it!
8. There are people who will support and try to know you, even at such a large university.
When I first came to IU, I was so worried that I was going to just be a number and I would get filtered through the system. That hasn't been the case. There are plenty of resources for you to use and people whose jobs are to help you.
Recently, I went on a Public Relations Agency Tour with the Media School and when I said my name during check-in, the person said, "Oh, I've heard your name before! It's good to finally meet you!" It was a reassuring moment that people do pay attention and that if you work hard, people will notice.
9. Things will happen in your life that you never thought could happen.
My college experience has not been like most. I've had to grow up a lot these past three years and although it's been hard and I've had my fair share of struggles, my experience has been quite rewarding. I never thought that I would be Editor-in-Chief of a yearbook again, but, here I am, fresh out of our first deadline and working to make you all proud. I never thought I would be talking about mental health or having candid conversations about consent or passing out condoms, but as Director of Mental Health with Culture of Care, I'm doing that and a lot more. Finally, I never thought that I would even be at IU but things have a funny way of working out in the end.
10. IU is home.
In conclusion, I learned that Bloomington is my home. It isn't just a place where I study, go to class, and where I binge watch “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” IU has become the place I call home. Although Chicago will always remain in my heart forever, Bloomington is where I belong.
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