In honor of my one month anniversary away at school, I’ve reached out to some friends to gather some pieces of advice on our college experiences so far, and what we’ve learned during the first month on our own. Without further ado, let’s get down to it!
First, please tell us your major, what university you are attending, and one of the things you looked for in a school that you found in your current college!
Inès: I am attending the Université de Strasbourg in France, where I’m double majoring in History and Civilization of the Muslim world and History of Art. I had known for years that I wanted to study the islamic world (which means both religious and non religious aspect of the Maghreb and the Middle East), but as I started History of Art in high school I knew I couldn’t drop it after three years. So when I discovered that I could study both subjects at the Université de Strasbourg I made the decision to stay and study here. I don’t regret this decisions at all and have enjoyed all my different classes so far!
Addy: I am attending Columbia College Chicago, where I’m majoring in Musical Theatre and minoring in Stage Combat! I was looking for was a liberal arts school in a big theatre town so I could build my career.
Klaus: I am at Indiana University, studying Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation and Global Business within the Kelley School of Business, along with a minor in Music Studies within the Jacob’s School of Music.
Rachel: I’m attending Miami University where I am double majoring in Professional Writing and Journalism with a minor in Political Science. One of the things I looked for when visiting college was a beautiful campus, and I definitely found that at Miami. Also, I think I want to work as an editor, and they have an editing track as a part of the professional writing major, which is something I didn’t find at any other school.
What’s been the most difficult thing about college so far?
Inès: I had first planned on studying either abroad (in the UK) or at least in another city and changed my mind the day before the final choice. Many of my friends are now studying in different cities and it’s pretty hard for me not to see them as often as before. Funnily enough, it’s also difficult for me to stay home in my comfort zone, while they fully experience the student life in a new place!
Addy: I feel like the most difficult thing about college so far is being away from my family. My family is going through quite a lot of medical issues at this time and something that I keep reflecting upon is that I cannot be there to support them, as I’ve been constantly busy in college.
Klaus: I am lucky to be close enough to home where I have the ability to go home upon short notice. I also don’t feel as nostalgic as I thought I would. This being said, the social dynamic of coming from a school of 150 High School students to a school of 40000 is a bit daunting. There is a constant pressure to perform in front of strangers that I didn’t necessarily feel in High School.
Rachel: I think the hardest thing for me was leaving my family and friends. I’m six hours from home without a car, so going home on the weekends isn’t really an option. I’ve gotten used to it though, and I still call them pretty frequently. Some of my friends I even talk to more now than I did before I left.
What’s been the thing you’ve loved most?
Inès: The building I’m studying in and the setting in general. Although it’s only 5min away from my high school, it looks so different and it reminds me quite a lot of Paris, which is beautiful! It feels like I’m in another city for a few hours every day! Besides that, I’ve already made some friends (uni only started on the 11th of September here) and I’m loving all my classes.
Addy: The people and the city. I’ve made so many friends here, each different from the other and it’s great to be able to go over to someone’s dorm at 2 in the morning and just spend all night there hanging out and talking. I also love being in the city, and I’m getting very used to using public transportation to take me to just about any museum I need to go to for class!!
Klaus: My Business Presentations class is currently my favorite thing here at IU. It’s an 8AM on Monday and Wednesday, but I love the atmosphere, my teammates, and the professor so much that I am motivated to get up early and go. There is also something about presenting that really invigorates me. Outside of school, the city of Bloomington is the cutest, most vibrant place (outside of a big city) that I have ever been. So many cultures and customs are represented here, you’d never get bored!
Rachel: I love so many things. I love all of the people I’ve met here. I love most of my classes, especially my writing scholars class which has only 9 people in it, so that’s really fun. I love how unstructured the classes are, as opposed to high school with 7 periods straight every day. Overall, I would just say I love college in general.
What’s some advice you have for next year’s freshmen?
Inès: My first choice was to study in the UK, but because of the financial aspect I had to cancel my application. It was really hard for me, but then I realized I had just postponed my studies in the UK. You need to know that not everything will work as planned but it doesn’t mean it will never happen. You can always find solutions to get you where you want to go. Besides having a goal is super motivating both for your studies and personal life. Since I know that I want to study abroad for my master’s degree, I’m ready to save as much money as possible! Just remember that you’re only 18 and even if it feels like you’re all grown up, you still have your whole life ahead of you!
Addy: You don’t need to grow up just yet. As I went through my journey to find the right school for me, I found that I was focusing a lot on the financial aspect of the different colleges, and I was basing a lot of my judgements based on affordability. Just don’t be afraid to step back from that aspect and look at it in a way in which you benefit the most. Pick the school you’re most comfortable at and the one where you fit in the best.
Klaus: Don’t ever settle. IU wasn’t my first choice, but it was definitely the most reasonable and affordable. Because of these I originally felt like I was settling. But as soon as I got here and found like minded motivated individuals, I was pushed to get involved. Already in the first month of being here, I have been elected by my peers to represent my floor on student council, been accepted to the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, and will be travelling to Chicago for Model United Nations in November. Even then, I am still waiting to hear back from more opportunities I applied for. Make sure not to spread yourself thin, but getting involved has great long term and short term effects on your academia, persona and image. Take advantage of the great resources that your university has to offer! They’re endless!
Rachel: I think when picking a college, it is easy to become overwhelmed because there are so many options. Figure out what is the most important to you, whether it be a good program for your major or the size or the distance from home. What really helped me to decide on Miami was visiting the campus, and as soon as I saw the school, I knew it was the place for me. As far as advice for once you get to college, don’t be afraid to try new things and put yourself out there a little.
What do you miss most from home (aside family, friends, and pets)?
Inès: Since I’m still living at home, my answer is a little different. Strasbourg feels absolutely new to me now that I’m studying in another place and that all my friends are gone, so I somehow miss the city I used to know so well. Also, because I’m 18 now, there are a lot of administrative documents that I have to fill in. Sometimes I’m really nostalgic for the time when my mum took care of everything and when I didn’t have to worry if I was registered at the student social security and if I had given back all the documents needed for my inscription at uni, etc.!
Addy: I miss privacy. I would definitely recommend getting a curtain or partition if you are sharing a room with someone else, ESPECIALLY if your roommate is constantly bringing people home, coming in late at night, or just working and making noise after quiet hours. It would really be a good investment to make if you want some ‘me’ time. I also miss good and cheap Mexican food (and pizza) because that was something my family would always have together, and I haven’t really found a suitable replacement for it here in Chicago yet!
Klaus: I miss my favorite restaurant Yats! I wish they had one down here. I also really miss my car. I think I took the liberty of being able to escape to another place for granted.
Rachel: I miss actual food. I eat at the dining hall almost every single meal, and while the food here isn’t as bad as I was expecting, I do miss all my favorite restaurants from home. I also miss my car, because although I don’t need it to get around campus, it would be nice to have the option to go home or go visit my friends.
I’ve really enjoyed everything that friends (old and new) have had to say about college- it’s a big transition in anyone’s life and I believe it makes all the difference to have people like these in my life to help me out along the way! Check back at Bibliophilia soon for more content on stumbling along in college life and beyond!