My first semester at the University of Iowa was not what I was expecting. Socially, emotionally, and physically things shifted from my last summer at home. As this semester closes out with a week of finals, I’ve been reflecting on what worked well this semester and what didn’t, and I’m making a plan for what to change next semester.
This semester, I found a group of friends. They’ve been a supportive and fun group of people that I am grateful to have had this first semester. We did ocasionally spend too much time having fun. The group is often over at our dorm room during the day and late in to the evenings for “study-parties,” which start with school work but rapidly deteriorate into conversation and a trip to the Clinton Street Market for unhealthy snacks.
Next semester, I’m going to be mindful of the homework I have to do and create an environment that is conducive to studying and healthy living. I will keep food in my dorm room that is healthy, like frozen veggies that I can steam in the microwave for snacks. I have class every morning at 8:30am, so I’m going to set a bed time like the ones I so despised growing up, because I want to make it to those classes and be successful in them. I want to create a morning routine that incorporates a light yoga practice, a large cup of water, and a healthy breakfast, if I’m hungry.
This semester, I was timid in the way I approached student organizations. I would skip meetings if I had too much homework and I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet people in clubs. This coming semester I am going to attend more meetings of the student orgs I want to join. I want to become an important member and make friends in those groups. I plan to try out for the club soccer team, continue in the cross-country club, and contribute more to Fools Magazine.
The same goes for classes. I had high hopes at the beginning of the first semester that I would make the majority of my friends in my classes, but it turns out people aren’t keen on talking in large lectures.
Next Semester, I am going to be talkative before and after my classes and I’m going to reach out to my peers and invite them to hang out, to go to dinner, or to get a cup of coffee. Most freshmen on a college campus are looking to make friends and expand their social circle. I’ve found this semester that you are more likely to make friends if you invite people. You can’t sit around and wait for an invitation, you have to put yourself out there.
I was a bit too excited about the “all you can eat” plan at the dining halls. I often ate healthy foods like fruits, salads, occasionally sandwiches, but my portions were way too large, and I would leave the dining hall stuffed. My sweet tooth would sense the dessert station and I’d grab a cookie or two on my way out.
Next SemesterI’m going to be mindful of my portions and not overfill my plate. I’m going to put healthy foods on my plate first: vegetables from the salad bar, fruit from the deli station, and then I will add the main course. I’m also going to stick to a vegan diet, which I had before coming to college. I fell out of the vegan lifestyle as the semester progressed because of the availability of delicious non-vegan food. I feel my best when I eat a plant-based diet and I will utilize the resources available to me in the dining halls to maintain that lifestyle.
The first semester here was adventurous and educational and I wouldn’t change anything if I was given the chance. It was educational because I know that I can do much more to set myself up for success. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my choices and how I can do better to create healthy habits now and for the future. Thank goodness for winter break. For now, I will relax and enjoy time with my family. But I’m ready for next semester. I know it can be even better than the last.