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First-year students adjust to the college lifestyle

I remember so clearly going into high school and being told that the next four years would be the fastest and most fun of my life. I heard the words, acknowledged how often they were spoken to me, and didn’t really take into consideration that they may in fact be true.

High school flew by and left me with great memories. But now, I’m in college and the same words are being spoken once again: “These will be the fastest, best years of your life!”

I was told that college is a whole new ball game–it’s a brand new lifestyle. I was told to look forward to fun, responsibility, independence, lots of studying and the general excitement that comes with college.

I’m now halfway into my first semester, and I’m realizing that, for the most part, what I was told was pretty accurate. My lifestyle has definitely changed after being at Drake for only a few months. I would say it’s changed for the better.

For a while, being at Drake felt like being at camp. I lived with my friends, I had so much free time, I was meeting all sorts of new people; college was a breeze!  While most of that remains true today, after the first few weeks of being on campus it seemed to hit me: I am not at camp…I’m in college!

The new lifestyle began to settle in. I realized that the difference from high school to college is so extreme and you don’t truly notice it until you experience it. There is so much newfound freedom in college, such a different way of connecting to new people you meet, a new mindset and focus on schoolwork, new habits, hobbies, interests; simply a new way of life.

Once this set in, the fact that I really am in college became real. So many things have changed just in the few months I’ve been here.

For starters, I’ve realized that despite all the clothes that fill my closet at home, my wardrobe is lacking. After going through 12 years of Catholic school and always dressing according to dress code, I could really use some normal, everyday clothes—now that I can wear whatever I want.

In high school I was so used to having a very set-in-stone schedule: school, after school activities, dinner, homework, sleep, repeat. Now, I have a much more flexible schedule, more time to do more things, but at the same time, I have more things to balance. Making adequate time to get schoolwork done, getting involved in activities that I’m interested in, having a social life and somehow attempting to find time to sleep on top of it all can be difficult.

Something else I’ve had to really watch is what I’m eating and whether I’m getting enough exercise—I don’t want to gain the freshman 15! More free time means more time to munch and sit around as opposed to being out and active. Setting conscious goals to actually eat a balanced meal and get some sort of exercise every day has helped make that issue a little less daunting.

There’s so much more responsibility and self-regulation in college. I expected this need for even more responsibility, and so far I think I’m doing a pretty good job of staying on top of things.

I’ve learned so much in the two months I’ve been here that has helped me really, truly adapt to life at Drake. I have learned that early morning runs are the best way to wake up, that Hubbell omelettes are excellent (especially if you get just the right person to make it) and that I can make it to Meredith from my dorm in hardly any time at all. I have learned that RAs and PMACs are awesome to have around, that although a reading for a class may seem short, it will actually probably take a significant amount of time and that watching TV shows or football games with big groups is absolutely the way to go. I’ve discovered so much diversity, made random but valuable connections with people I wouldn’t have expected, had an actual quality discussion with a professor about something other than the material being covered in class and had countless experiences that I know will be lasting memories.

So, I really am in college, not just at camp. It kind of took awhile for it to dawn on me that this whole new part of my life is actually starting, but it’s real and I’ve realized that. To all other first-years, and all Drake students in general, I wish you the best this year and in years to come at Drake!

Robinson is a first-year magazine major and can be contacted at elizabeth.robinson@drake.edu.

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