I answered 20 questions about college! If you think you want to go to college but are still looking for clarity on different things or questions you don’t know you have, give this a watch!
Aug.17 – move-in day!
Aug.20 – kickoff at Kinnick!
Look at all of these beautiful people <3
Thanks uiowa for semester 1, 7 more to go and I can’t wait!
Picture this… you move away from home for the first time of your life to live in a dorm on a college campus with some person that you met on Facebook. You’re on your own, going to college is something you’ve never done before, and you are surrounded by people you’ve never seen before. You’re in a completely unfamiliar place, experiencing something completely new. You’re thrown into this new chapter of life, you have no choice but to simply learn how things work as you go.
Looking back on my first semester, I’m so amazed and encouraged by the countless little lessons I had to learn. Some the easy way, and some the hard way. Here’s a list of a handful of things I learned so that you don’t have to! Maybe this list will answer a question you didn’t know you had, or make you even more excited to come and start your college adventure at Iowa!
1. Everyone is in the same boat.
- Making new friends is intimidating! I was so worried that I was going to be alone, that people weren’t going to want to talk to me, etc. However, what I came to realize was that I was not AT ALL alone. Actually, the complete opposite. All of those things that I was worried about and going through, a countless amount of other people were going through it too. Everyone is trying to meet their people, so you will actually be almost overwhelmed by the number of people you begin to connect with. It all starts out with your name, major, and hometown but then certain friendships will go deeper than that and it is a super exciting and beautiful thing!
2. Academically… you need to apply yourself to a whole new level.
- To be honest, I never truly had to try in high school. The college workload hit me like. a. garbage. truck. I had to teach myself how to take notes in different classes and simply how to study. Outside of class, I needed to really discipline myself in a way I never had to in high school. You need to do MORE than the bare minimum & watch your lectures 🙂
3. Prioritize your meals.
- In the business of life and day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to literally forget to eat! Look at your schedule & make time for food, we have meal plans for a reason! And we kind of need food for like, life. I know it may sometimes seem like getting work done is worth skipping meals. But trust me, your work will still get done & you can be even more productive when you’ve had some food to sustain you. Yes, classes are important and taxing, but when it comes down to it, your wellbeing is worth so much more!
4. Say YES to last-minute plans!
- Okay, there are exceptions to this… if you NEED to do your homework, or if you NEED a night to chill by yourself, it is OKAY to say no to plans if it is better for your mental health. BUT personally, I am an extrovert and love being spontaneous and most of my favorite memories were unplanned. If you want to really get to know people, go do things with them! Go to coffee shops, get insomnia cookies, have game nights, get off campus, etc. Contrary to some beliefs, college is not all about school. I think the college experience and the friends and the memories you make are what make college worth it.
5. Get out of your dorm, go sit somewhere pretty.
- It is difficult to be productive when you’re sitting right next to your bed, or your tv. Also, the dorms are great and all, but it feels soooo good to get out of that shoebox. Especially if you live on the west side, having some go-to study spots on the east side is a must. Voxman Music Building, BizHub in the PapaJohn Business Building, the library, and the IMU are all great places to explore on campus. You could also find a coffee shop downtown if busy environments are more your style. Java House is a really popular one! Other places I’ve tried are High Ground Café, Tru Coffee, and Fix! I have to say though, my absolute favorite place to be is the Encounter Café.
6. Clarity is kindness.
- In the past, I have had such a hard time being straightforward with people because I was worried about what they would think or say. But living with a roommate has taught me extremely valuable lessons about communication and honesty. Be honest with your roommate if you have a need or desire. Be honest with yourself about what you want in life at college. Everybody is learning and growing in different ways, so if there is something on your mind, don’t shove it down, just talk about it! Hard conversations almost always end with relief. I am so thankful for my roommate and the conversations we have had that ultimately brought us closer!
7. Time management.
- In college, time management is more difficult than ever because nobody is keeping you accountable except yourself. I would’ve been completely lost this semester if it wasn’t for my planner. Each week I wrote down when I had classes and student organizations. Then I had a checklist of assignments I had to complete that week and their due date, and a separate checklist for regular to-do items. This system worked for me, so I suggest that you find a system that works for YOU! It is okay if things don’t always go as planned, because let me tell you, they won’t! But having it all organized made even changing plans less stressful.
8. Your feelings are valid.
- Yes, college is super fun and exciting and all, but it has its moments. Though it looks different for everyone… homesickness, sadness, and loneliness are all completely normal and valid feelings. These feelings hit you at the most random times, there is no reason to feel ashamed when they do. It helped me to find a friend to talk about it, chances are they truly understand and you guys can work together through it! Sometimes it really helped to call someone from home that I may be missing at that moment. If you feel like what you go through is more serious, campus has countless mental health resources that you can reach out to. No matter what, you never know what someone is going through so be kind. Smiling and saying hi can really make someone feel appreciated and change the course of their day. <3
9. 3 words. The bus system.
- Learning how to navigate the bus system is important especially if you live on the west side. However, it is quite the complicated adventure when you are first figuring it out. There are so many different routes, and the estimated arrival times are not always accurate and it is confusing! Download the Transit app, and remember this phrase “Blue to Burge, Red to Rienow.” That’s honestly the only advice I can give you, practice makes perfect. GOOD LUCK!
10. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself!
- I would get SO frustrated with myself if I didn’t do something right. I would act as if I should’ve known better! If you find yourself in the same position as me, won’t you just give yourself some grace?!? It’s okay to mess up, it’s okay to get things wrong, it’s okay to make mistakes. You’ve never been to college before, so you are in no way supposed to know everything. In the end, those mistakes are how I’ve come to learn all of these sweet lessons. If you are frustrated with yourself, take a deep breath, learn from it, and move on. It really is as simple as that, and it is going to be okay.
I feel confident when I say that I am not the same person now compared to when I first entered college. My first semester has stretched me and forced me to grow in all aspects of life. Even with all of the mishaps and roadblocks, I honestly would not change a single thing about the way things went. Over the last few months, I’ve met people and made memories that I can’t imagine my life without. It has been the craziest, best 4 months of my life!
My roommate and I were reflecting before we came home for Christmas break and she said, “Your first semester is everything you want it to be and more, but also nothing like you thought it was going to be at the same time. And it’s outstanding.”
The daily life of a college student is way different than the daily life of a high school student. When I first moved to Iowa, this was an interesting adjustment! I took some time to film my week to give you guys a glimpse at what my schedule looks like!
College is SO great. I have already made friends that I love, and with those friends, I’ve made memories. I love all of the activities that are offered on and off-campus. I love my schedule and I love being independent. However, it is one of the biggest transitions I’ve ever gone through in my life. And sometimes with big changes come big feelings!
Homesickness, sadness, confusion, loneliness, stress, etc. Even in the midst of so much excitement, these feelings can still be valid. It’s okay to not be okay, but instead of staying stuck in these emotions, how could we take care of ourselves to push us towards personal growth?!? I’ve come up with a list of 10 practical ways we can take care of ourselves as college students!
- Prioritize sleep. Sleep deprivation has a direct effect on an individual’s mental health. The typical college student is supposed to receive 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Being well-rested helps people think more clearly and creatively and produces a positive mood! Sleep recharges our physical and mental batteries, allowing us to perform better in all we do throughout the day.
- Go for walks. Speaking from experience, this one works like a charm! Walking is a light-intensity activity that reduces anxiety symptoms. After a hard day, grab a friend, and bring your stress, then walk and talk it all out! It will feel so nice to get some fresh air.
- Spend time with friends. I’m going to preface with it is 100% okay to say no to social activities if you are overwhelmed and need rest. BUT there is a difference between taking time to rest and shutting out the world completely. Remember, you and your feelings are NOT a burden on others. Spending time with friends can improve your self-confidence and self-worth. Healthy friendships encourage positive mental health and well-being.
- Journaling. I used to hate when people told me to try journaling haha, it just seemed too cliche. But guess WHAT. The reason everybody tells people to journal is because it WORKS. It can greatly help someone who is anxious to take their thoughts out of their head and put them on paper so they can understand their own feelings more clearly. Journaling reduces stress, creates personal awareness, and helps people regulate their emotions.
- Carve out time for hobbies. It is helpful to have ways to express yourself. Having activities you enjoy is a great way to unwind from classes or studying. It can be art-related, it can be sports-related, it can be reading, it can be being outdoors, it can be literally anything. But find your “thing” and that thing may be able to help feelings of anxiety and depression!
- Message or call someone you love. I have yet to meet someone in college that doesn’t miss somebody. Staying connected with friends and family increases feelings of security and a sense of belonging. Text your high school friends, call your parents. Remember just like there are people you love, there are people that love you, and let talking to them put a smile on your face.
- Take breaks. I’m mainly referring to studying. Cramming too much information in your brain at once is extremely tiring and stressful. Taking breaks has shown time and time again to be important when recovering from stress which in turn improves your performance. A 5-15 minute break can consist of grabbing a snack/water, practicing a hobby, chatting with someone, etc.
- Exercise. The mental health and well-being benefits of exercise are endless. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which help energize you and make you feel good. Working out can actually promote patterns that promote feelings of calmness. Can it really get any better than something that is beneficial BOTH physically and mentally?!?
- Buy yourself something. Okay, I don’t want you draining your bank account, we are college students, so there isn’t much to drain in the first place. Research has shown that shopping can help reinforce a sense of personal control over our environment. Also, rewarding yourself increases dopamine in the brain which improves your mood. Please use self-control when it comes to your money! But I do recommend treating yourself to coffee now & then, and maybe browsing around in the hawk shop haha.
- Listen to music/podcasts. I love music because there are so many different genres and artists! No matter who you are or what you’re going through, there is music you can connect with. Music can reduce stress, and elevate your mood. Podcasts, on the other hand, also offer a wide variety of genres. There are lots of podcasts specifically about mental health, encouragement, etc. Listening to music and podcasts can help you feel less alone, and leave you encouraged!
I genuinely hope that at least one of these ideas resonates with you! One last thing that helps me is… sunsets! A good sunset will ALWAYS make me feel better. For me, they put life into perspective, and remind me that life is beautiful! I’ve taken pictures of some of the sunsets I’ve seen so far in Iowa City, and have inserted them for you.
Before I came into college I watched DOZENS of dorm room tour videos. I was on a desperate search for logistical and creative ways & ideas for organizing and decorating my future space!
It is so fun being on the other side of the curiosity. Now, I have my space and it is decorated and organized and personalized! Attached is my dorm tour video, let me show you around!!! 🙂
This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, and tell you how I became A FRESHIE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA!!!
I was a junior in high school! I had no idea how, what, where, when, why, or who I wanted to be when I grew up. The pressure of figuring out my whole life totally weighed down on me at the time. It made me quite anxious because honestly, I don’t like change.
I had to reach a point though, where I would stop overthinking and start dreaming. THAT is where my college search began. I visited a couple campuses, Iowa actually being the first!
Here’s how it went. When we first arrived my interest was immediately sparked by all of the people welcoming me and throwing free stuff at me. There were people ready to give tours, and even Herky was running around! Next, we did the routine-college-visit thing and went on a tour. We walked down the street, into the library, around the Pentacrest, and through the T. Anne Cleary Walkway. Then, we enjoyed lunch at one of the dining halls before going to a “major fair” in the Memorial Union. At the time I had no clue what I was going to major in, so seeing hundreds of potential majors and opportunities right in front of me in a huge room ignited a huge flame of inspiration in me!
After all of the routine campus visit events. My mom and I had time to walk around on our own and reflect on the experience. I come from a tiny town in northern Iowa, so right off the bat, I was awe-struck by Iowa City and the architecture on campus. I loved the beautiful river running through campus, and how vibrant and close downtown was. My grandfather attended the University of Iowa, and when I thought of my grandpa and stared up at the Old Capitol, I became so aware of the history that exists at Iowa. And it’s the history of the university that made it come to life for me! Suddenly I knew that Iowa was so much bigger than me, and instead of that scaring me away, the opportunity to be a part of something big drew me in. I felt like this was a place that would truly allow me to grow!
That’s how I knew Iowa was for me. I always thought it was cheesy when people responded to questions about their college choice with “I just KNEW it was where I was meant to be” until I experienced it for myself. You want the place you choose for college to be somewhere that genuinely excites you and you can daydream yourself walking the streets as a student.
On the drive home from my visit, I couldn’t wait to go back. Fast forward two years and I’m a freshman psychology major walking the same sidewalks that my grandpa did! I’ve loved every second of finding my people and exploring campus and downtown. Being a first-year is so fun, and I’m excited for what these next four years will bring!