As my last semester at IU is rapidly approaching, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing some wisdom I've gathered the last three years. Here is my list of seven things I've learned since freshman year.
I didn't bring my car to campus freshman year because I knew I wouldn't really need it. I didn't have groceries to buy because I spent what seemed like hours each day at Wright's food court and I wasn't involved in anything that required me to go off campus. I thought I'd need a car to truly explore Bloomington. Is it easier when you have a car? Without a doubt. However, if you become friends with students who have a car, discover new restaurants downtown or take a day trip to Brown County. I've had a car on campus since my sophomore year, but it wasn't until I was a junior when I really felt as though I'd made an effort to visit different places and try new things. Don't wait - take a bus and get downtown. Bus routes can be found online here.
I know that this has been grilled into you since you were little, but I am here to tell you that it's so important, especially in college. I attempted to get involved freshman year, but I wasn't passionate about anything in particular, so I lacked any motivation to continue with any groups, regardless of whether I went to a call-out meeting. Unfortunately, this continued for the most part throughout my college career. I never really knew what avenue I was following in college, but I knew I liked writing. Once I got the email invitation to blog for WeAreIU.com, I knew I'd found something that I'd enjoy. Go to the Student Involvement Fair, sign up for anything and everything, and see where things take you. Go to as many call-out meetings as you can attend, even if it is to get a feel for the club or student group.
Don't think opportunities refers only to academic opportunities. The summer before my junior year I was lucky to participate in an alternative break trip to Jamaica to assist in the renovation of two schools. The trip was offered through IU's Office of Student Life and Learning. Always keep your eyes peeled for amazing opportunities. IU offers lots of them - you just have to look for them.
…And keep an open mind for classes you think you may not enjoy as much - they might surprise you. My sophomore year, I took an introductory informatics course and I thought I'd hate it but I actually really enjoyed it and learned how to create my own website. We all have classes we need to take for our degree that may we may not consider all that exciting but don't let them get you down.
In most of the classes I've taken, students are given three "freebie" days to skip without grade penalization. I'm not here to tell you to skip purely because you can, but I'm also not telling you it's a bad thing. Hear me out - I'm not condoning skipping. However, those days are there if you need them. Don't feel guilty about using one of those days to catch up with homework, take a personal day after an exhausting week or sleeping when you're not well. Don't be afraid to use them wisely but don't abuse them either.
I know that I've mentioned studying abroad in the last few blogs I've written, but I cannot recommend it enough. Whether it is or is not required for your degree, I highly encourage you all to spend at least a few weeks abroad. I miss my international experience every day and I'm still in touch with all the people I met while abroad.
Bloomington is beautiful at any time of the year. Take advantage of being outside. Before you know it, you'll be a senior who isn't looking forward to the day where I have to say goodbye to walking down Kirkwood on a summer day, strolling through the arboretum on a spring day, admiring the leaves changing color by the Student Building and waiting for a bus as the snow falls.
Enjoy your four years, Hoosiers - it goes by more quickly than you'd imagine.