15 Things I Learned My Freshman Year

I'm seriously having a hard time comprehending the fact that my freshman year of college ends in a week and a half. That is insane to me. I know this is something everyone says/hears a lot and is totally cliché, but time FLIES. I've learned so much and grown a lot as a person this year, and within that, what I've learned my freshman year is: 

1. You have to rely on yourself while you're here.

No one else is going to make you do your school work, go to class, shower and brush your teeth, clean your room, etc. That's all up to you. You're responsible for what you do now. Just keep in mind that you're paying A LOT of money to receive a really great education here. You don't want to throw that all away by becoming too lazy or partying too much. Notice that I said "too much." It's 200% okay to go out on the weekend with your friends and blow off some steam, and it's okay to spend an entire (yes, entire) day in bed watching Netflix! You have to take time to relax and have fun otherwise you're going to be totally stressed out, overwhelmed and miserable. Just make sure you're finding a healthy balance between all of these things. I talk more about the balancing act of college life here.

2. Don't judge a dorm neighborhood by it's reputation.

Most people know that Northwest has the reputation of being the "party" and "cool" neighborhood, Southeast is known as "geeky" and "less social," and Central is known for being really "chill." Seriously, don't even let those stereotypes sway you. I live in Foster, which is in the Northwest neighborhood, and while it's a lot more party oriented, I've also found that people can be really rude on this side of campus because they think they're so cool. I'm not at all saying that everyone is this way, but a surprising amount of people are. I wish now that I would have lived in Southeast because they have the best food court, it's beautiful over there and they aren't anti-social at all! So make your decision on where to live based on the area you like best and that alone. You can read more about IU's dorm neighborhoods here and here.

3. Go to football & basketball games, and most definitely tailgate.

You just have to experience it. Going to games and tailgating is when I feel the most connected to IU and my fellow students, and that's a really special feeling. That sounds so corny. But seriously, you will have so much fun.

4. You should always go to class.

Unless class gets cancelled, or you're really sick, you should just suck it up and go. By skipping a class, you're essentially throwing a couple hundred dollars into a raging fire. So just go. Form good habits now -- go to class on time, pay attention and take notes. You don't want your GPA to fall and have to struggle to raise it later. It's likely that you're going to learn or be given valuable information anyways, so do yourself a favor and just go.

5. Being unsure of what to major in is okay.

I didn't know what I wanted to major in until the beginning of my second semester. There's so much stigma that goes along with being undecided or exploratory, but there's nothing wrong with it. If you need to take a little extra time to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, that's OKAY. You can go undecided your entire freshman year and still be on track to graduate with the rest of your class. Click this link to read more about choosing a major.

6. Being a "GDI" is also okay.

For those of you who don't know, a "GDI" is a "God Damn Independent." This is what non-Greeks are labeled as. Despite the rather negative nickname, it is beyond okay to not want to be in a fraternity or a sorority. I personally decide to own the name -- yeah, I'm fiercely independent. So what? Last time I heard, independence is a good thing. Don't let stereotypes define you; it's okay to not want to rush! As long as you're doing you and that's making you happy, then keep on keepin' on. Wanna hear more about Greek life? Click this and this.

7. Always utilize the enrollment shopping cart when planning next semester's classes.

THIS IS VITAL TO YOUR COLLEGE EXISTENCE. I am so serious. Scheduling classes is SO stressful because freshman typically schedule last, and a lot of classes fill up by the time it's your turn! To make the experience as less stressful as possible, plan out what classes you're going to take, and look them up on the Student Center website. Once you figure out what time/place/teacher you want, put that bad boy in your enrollment shopping cart. By doing this, you don't have to mess around with finding your classes the day that you're scheduling, and you also don't have to worry about class times overlapping because you were ahead of the game and planned out your business. Look at you, being all prepared. I give more advice on scheduling classes here.

8. The Freshman 15 is completely, 100% preventable, avoidable, and also real.

Don't underestimate the Freshman 15. It's real, I promise you. The good news is that it's really easy to prevent. You pay a fee in your tuition to use the two on campus gyms, so go to one of them! Lift things up and put 'em down, run while pretending that Ryan Gosling is waiting for you at the finish; you can even get your zen on and go to a yoga class. Another great way to incorporate some exercise is to walk to class instead of taking the bus. Campus is beautiful, so walk around and enjoy it. Healthy (although a very slim variety) options are available at all of the food courts. You can even buy healthy groceries at any of the C Stores. You just have to decide to commit to living healthier if you want to avoid the F15. That Pizza X may be calling out to you, but you might regret it later. I give more advice on being healthy in college here.

I also share a lot of advice, tips, recipes and personal experience stories on my blog, Fit Lyss, which I'm launching in May. The website is up and running, but I won't be making regular posts until I'm home for summer. While you're so patiently waiting, you can read my About page and my FAQ. Be sure to check it out! (:

9. Venturing around Bloomington is so much fun, but you have four years to do it.

My point here is that you don't have to go to every single restaurant that you've heard is awesome or do every single thing that college students typically do in Bloomington -- like go down to the Rooftop Quarry -- you have four years to do all of that! It will end up costing you a boat load of money to fit all this stuff into one year. Eating out adds up quickly, both money wise and weight wise! So have fun, but don't get carried away. For the sake of planning, you can read about my favorite Bloomington restaurant suggestions here! (:

10. You will have good days and bad days.

College is really great, but don't expect every day to be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, because not every day will be. There will be days that feel like you'll remember them in twenty years as the defining moments in your college experience. There will also be days where you have to study for three tests, write a paper and do an online quiz. You will feel completely overwhelmed, and you will want to give up and maybe you'll cry a little. That's okay. Take a break, eat a snack, breath in, breath out, then get back to it.

11. Studying is always necessary in college!

I'll say it again: studying is always necessary in college! You will not succeed if you do not study. Plain and simple. College is not so hard that you'll be sitting around asking yourself what the heck you got yourself into, but it is more demanding than high school. Click for more on high school versus college.

12. It's okay to get homesick!

I've been homesick a lot this year. It's not that I don't love IU, because I do. I missed my best friend a lot because she lives in my hometown. I missed my family and my cat. I missed having a kitchen and my own laundry room and a comfy bed and a couch. It's okay to miss those things, and you probably will. It doesn't mean that you don't want to be at IU or that you're a baby, which is how some people will try to make you feel. Haters gonna hate. You just keep on doin' you, okay? Okay. Read more about homesickness here and here.

13. Making new friends can be difficult after the first week of classes ends.

I was very surprised about this, but once the first week of class ends, it's like no one feels like being friendly anymore! Everyone is so nice and outgoing and bubbly for the first two weeks, and then it just...stops. It's weird! Not that everyone is like that, but most people are. So my best advice is to make as many friends as possible during Orientation, Welcome Week and in the first week of classes!

14. A lot of unique opportunities are made available to you as an IU student -- take advantage of them!

Writing for WeAreIU is an amazing opportunity that was made available to me as an IU student, and I genuinely love writing for the website and you guys! There are so many things that you can only do as a college student. Go to the Student Involvement Fair, go to call out meetings, participate in dorm activities, rush if Greek life is something you want to be in! Take advantage of these opportunities because you'll probably end up being apart of something that you really love.

15. What you're doing in college is shaping the rest of your life, whether you realize it or not.

College is the last part of our lives before we have to actually, 100% grow up and become real working adults. The choices that you make and the habits that you form now are things that are defining the rest of your life. Choosing to study for your finals so you can ace them and have a kickass GPA -- that's putting you one step closer to your degree and a transcript that shows potential employers that you put your best foot forward in college. Committing to a weekly workout schedule and eating healthier -- that's a habit that won't easily be broken after you get accustomed to doing it, and a habit that improves several aspects of your overall health. Those are just two examples of so many. The way you are now and the way you act now is shaping the rest of your life, and I think that's pretty dang cool. You're building your life the way that you want it. There's so much power in that! So take advantage of everything that IU has to offer, and start doing things that you think will make you the happiest, kindest, most respectable version of yourself while you're here. With real effort, it'll pay off in the end.

As I mentioned above, I'll be writing on my own personal blog starting in May. You can check it out here!

About The Author
Alyssa ModosEnglish Major, Future Book Editor, Class of 2018, Fort Wayne, IN

I'm an English major and Marketing minor with the dream of working for a Big Five publisher in the Big Apple.

I'm obsessed with my cat, I'm newly addicted to pineapple, and I like to go running for fun. When I'm not at the gym, you can find me buried under blankets in bed watching The Walking Dead. Every Friday is Pizza Friday at my place; it's my own little "slice" (heh heh) of IU Traditions and Spirit.

Follow me around online and through social media to get to know IU and how amazing it is. You'll get to know me, too -- I'm a pretty cool person, just throwing that out there. (:

Be sure to check me out on Spoon University (where I write about delicious, life-changing food) and The Odyssey (where I write about a little bit of everything).