Small Town to Big Campus

I must admit it was a bit of a culture shock to go from a small town of around 1,200 people to a campus of around 33,000 students. My high school graduating class consisted of 35 students I knew, whereas now I am part of a class of thousands and can probably only name a handful of them.

The truth is, college is nothing like I had expected. I had heard horror stories from others about the campus being too big and spread out, about there being cockroaches in the residence halls, and about communal bathrooms being the worst thing ever. But I wanted to experience all of it on my own before jumping to any conclusions.

So here are the conclusions I have come to after a few months on campus:

IOWA’S CAMPUS IS WALKABLE

I heard from students that decided to go to other colleges that, when they visited Iowa, the campus felt too big and spread out. While it is a big campus, it’s not too big. I’m able to reach all of my classes within 15 minutes when walking. However, there are days when walking sounds awful. When it’s super hot, pouring rain, or incredibly cold (which I haven’t experienced yet), there’s the Cambus service that makes traveling from one location to another a lot easier. At the end of the day, it’s really a personal preference on whether or not campus is too big.

SHARING A ROOM WITH SOMEONE ELSE IS A TOSS UP

I got lucky because my roommate and I get along and share a lot of the same views on life. At the same time, I have been witness to other roommates constantly arguing and talking about each other behind their backs. I was nervous to have the university randomly select a roommate for me (based off a few factors), but it has worked out in my favor thus far.

USING A COMMUNAL BATHROOM ISN’T THE END OF THE WORLD

Before moving in, I dreaded the idea of sharing a bathroom with 14+ other girls. While it does suck having to walk all the way down the hallway and unlock a door just to go to the bathroom, I have decided it is something I can tolerate for a year. The worst part of the communal bathroom was when I unlocked the door and three cockroaches were staring back at me…on my first morning on campus.

I ENJOY BEING IN A LECTURE HALL WITH 299 OTHER STUDENTS

It gets a little crowded when everyone decides to show up on the day of an exam, but it certainly isn’t the worst experience. I’m not someone who enjoys speaking up in class (at least not yet), so I like not being forced to participate in lecture — though I still have to participate in discussion sections.

I NEED TO WORK ON TIME MANAGEMENT

I didn’t sign up for a ton of classes first semester, but I’m still struggling to manage my time when it comes to classes, student organizations, and work. I’ve spent more time watching Netflix than I have studying, and that’s a problem. Thankfully, I still have time to improve before the semester is over.

I NEED TO STUDY MORE THAN I DID IN HIGH SCHOOL

I have discovered that my old tactics of studying don’t work for me anymore. If I’m being completely honest, I hardly ever had to study for tests in high school. Now, however, studying is essential to my success in classes.

I SEE A LOT OF FAMILIAR FACES ON CAMPUS

With there being 33,000 students going to classes, I didn’t expect to see so many familiar faces all the time. I see people from my floor, student organizations, and job walking on the Pentacrest constantly. There are even random people I have become familiar with just because I always see them around campus. We may not talk much or at all, but just seeing someone familiar can improve my mood in a flash. In the words of the rock band Journey, I’m “just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world.” (You’re welcome, Mom.)

LIVING ON THE WEST SIDE OF CAMPUS DOESN’T SUCK

For one, I’m closer to Kinnick Stadium. Since my job involves heading that way for football practice once or twice a week, it’s good to be close by. Also, we’re only right on the other side of the river. Classes aren’t as far away as people seem to think. Most importantly, the west side of campus isn’t as crazy as the east side. As a person who enjoys a little peace and quiet, being away from the busy side of campus is nice.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

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@kam_smithy

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