And it’s time for part two of this four part series for back to school! Today, I’m sharing stories from my second year of college that was either my greatest or worst year of college. The 2013-2014 school year for me was both a dream and my absolute nightmare. There was a lot of good but the bad was real bad. I won’t spoil it in the introduction though.
To get started, let me set the scene. Sophomore year was the first of my two year stint in the International Dorm. I absolutely loved living here and, honestly, regret moving out for my senior year. For this year, I lived in a triple and the year started with a shake up. Originally, I was supposed to be living with two girls who I was friends with. Well, I was friends with one and friends through association with the other. My friend ended up not returning to school that fall which meant that I was left with the girl who I will call the Associate and a random roommate. The random roommate ended up being a first year student, which was fine. She was actually very talented and we ended up bonding on some level over the disdain that built for the Associate. There were times over the school year where being in that room felt like a threat. Like at any point something was going to snap it was genuinely dangerous. I won’t go too much more into detail but the Associate made living in that room unbearable. Which brings us to our first tip
Tip #1: Get Help. This goes for a lot of things. If you feel unsafe or unwelcome in your dorm room, take the steps you need to improve your situation. This means get your RA involved to help mediate the situation or talk to your Hall Director to figure out how to move you into a new room or new dorm. Whatever needs to be done. Do not feel like you need to suffer for an entire school year. This tip also goes for seeking academic help if needed or counseling if you are struggling with mental health. You do not need to feel alone. You do not, and should not, feel unsafe in your own space.
Also, to add to this, check out tips #2, 4, and 5 in the Freshman Year post.
The Year of the Lounge Dweller
Since I felt so unwelcome and, at times, unsafe in my dorm room during this school year, I ended up spending a lot of time in the community space of my dorm. Where I lived had a community lounge on the first floor and then study lounges on the upper floors. I often would be in the community lounge working or taking part in socials. Anything to break out of my shell a bit more. You see, I was still going through life feeling like being alone was not okay. That I needed to make friends ASAP. Which I started doing. Friends wise, Sophomore year was one of my best years of college. It is, without a doubt, the year that I had the most friends in college. I’ll talk about the end result of those friendships in my senior year post.
Anyways, thanks to always being in the lounge, I ended up meeting a lot of new people. I became friends with more girls on my floor and met friends from around the world. I ended up becoming good friends with a boy and girl from the Netherlands and a girl from Switzerland. Of course, I had plenty of domestic friends as well this year. I wouldn’t have made these friends if I didn’t participate and get out of my room. These are friends who I now have those “You had to be there” stories and some that I wouldn’t want to share on this blog at the moment. There was a reason that the phrase “Fairchild Incest” became a thing– I lived in Fairchild Hall and, more than any other dormitory it seemed, everyone was sleeping with everyone. This, as you can imagine, lead to quite a bit of drama every once in a while.
Tip #2: Get Out of your Room. As lame as they might seem, go to hall/floor socials. Do your homework in the lounge. Ask new people to go to meals with your and/or your friends. Meet new people!
With getting out of your room though, note this rule as well:
Tip #3: Be Careful who you sleep with. Avoid the drama and realize that in college, everyone is trying new things and experimentation. Take that how you want.
Staying On Top
With all of my new friends, there was this sense of belonging and almost feeling like one of the popular kids. Unfortunately, this did mess with my academics a bit. I was skipping classes to do what my friends were doing. I would put off doing homework because I couldn’t bare the thought of ending up doing something alone. I was becoming more and more aware of the anxiety and depression that had plagued me all through high school but I was trying to ignore and bury. It was rough. I was dealing with a lot and I thought that surrounding myself with people would make it okay. And it dead a bit. But I refused to get the help I needed and I slipped my way into academic probation by the end of the year. Not good. Getting that letter in the mail was a major wake up call that I needed to make some personal changes.
Tip #4: Prioritize. Figure out what is most important to you. Get your school work done. Get help when you need it. Make time for friends. If you find yourself in my shoes and are terrified of being alone, consider who you are spending time with. Real friends will wait for you. Will offer to go to a meal with you after, even if they’ve already gone. They’ll help you. They’ll listen. Keep a schedule for yourself and know your limits.
This was the year where I feel like I had the most personal growth. I learned a lot about myself this year. To get a bit personal, this was the year that I had sex for the first time. Where I got my first real boyfriend, who was not the person I first had sex with. Where I made friends that seemed like they would last. Where everything seemed so good but where my demons were showing their ugly heads more than ever before. I was truly living that mantra of “there is a time and place for everything and it is called college”. This was my first step into discovering myself, which is kind of one of the biggest parts of college. Yes, you are supposed to be getting an education and going to classes. Yes, you are supposed to be using those thousands of dollars you paid to be there to prepare for a job or career. This is your four year bubble to find yourself though. Figure out who you want to be. Now is the time.
Share your college stories with me in the comments! What tips do you have for college students in their first year or going into their last?