6 Paradoxes That You Only Learn During Your First Semester In College

College is an incredible experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It’s also kind of like diving head first into the deep end of the pool at a mental asylum. I’d like to take some time to share some things I learned during my first week of college to help you adjust to your new life.

1. You’ll either get too caught up in partying, or you’ll struggle to meet friends.

“Damn,” you must be thinking. “That’s pretty black and white.” I’ve met both of these types of students at college and discovered that both of these pathways kind of suck. I didn’t really struggle to find friends, but I was always a teeny bit envious of the kids who could stay in and have fun watching movies on a Saturday night, especially on Sunday mornings. But it’s true, drinking is the de facto surefire way to make friends in college. You’ll meet kids who are stumbling in drunk on Tuesday nights, and kids who drink daily in the dorms. You’ll also meet the “Sober Saturday” group, or worse, the kids who keep Christian tracts in their backpacks. Either way, both groups don’t have much going for them. The “party-all-night” kids are usually really high strung and can’t really manage to have a good time without some sort of mood altering substance, and the kids that never want to leave their dorms seem to be exasperatingly bored. Don’t get too crazy, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Usually the kids you can only get along when you’re drunk with will try to drink your vodka when you’re not looking. Drunk people kind of suck. Maybe try an extracurricular instead. The best friends you make in college will be the ones you can hang out sober with, and that’s the absolute truth. They’re worth struggling for.

2. You’ll love your classes, or you’ll hate your professors.

You might think your classes will be interesting, your professors will be witty and the As will come a-flowing. You might be right, but then again it’s more than likely that your college is gonna give you a pre-made schedule, and often times these are made up of the shittiest professors and the worst class times available. If the professor walks into the classroom without a smile and starts reading off a list of demands before you, drop that class like your life depended on it. Treat add/drop week like it was Fantasy Football. If your 7-10 PM three hour lecture on Thursdays with an 8 AM Monday/Wednesday/Friday seems doable now, just wait until the middle of the semester. Research your professors on RateMyProfessor. If they have less than a 2.5 rating, this is one of those rare moments in life where it’s best not to keep an open mind. I had a 9 AM lecture with a professor who was incredibly interesting at first, but after I came to the realization that I wasn’t a morning person and his exams were so ridiculously impossible that he considered it “suspicious” when someone scored a 90, I realized that it was probably the worst class I’d be taking while in college. What seems acceptable now might be grueling by the end of the semester.

3. You’re either gonna be homesick, or you’re gonna dread leaving.

Some people come to college and immediately miss home. Others get pissed at the fact that they’re required to leave the dorms for Christmas. You’ll probably know as soon as you get there. If you’ve got a sense of unease when your parents finally leave, that’s normal. If it’s dread, then you’re gonna be homesick. If it’s nervous curiosity, you’ll be just fine. Obviously the latter situation is better, but it requires you coming into college with an open mind. When I was a kid, I never spent more than a weekend away from home and my parents. I always felt homesick. When I got to college, it was the opposite. I loved my family, but I was happy to be on my own. To these people, summer and winter break blow. You’ll get separation anxiety from college life. Whichever of the two you fall into, it doesn’t really define you as a person. You just need to realize which type you are in case you need to come up with some coping strategies.

4. You’ll either pack enough to furnish a small island nation, or forget your toothbrush.

Some people need the entire extended family to come when they’re setting up their dorm room. Everyone does this initially. However, some people also need the entire extended family, including grandma and the dog to come up whenever the dorms close for a weekend. I hated these people. These are the kids that wore their student IDs in their lanyards for a month and attended every bullshit floor meeting. In my opinion, they suck. They take up elevator space, they crowd around, and they make a huge deal out of an affair that could be done by one person. Don’t bring too much, but don’t forget simple stuff either. Coffee makers are good if you’re not gonna spend your time binging on Adderall. I’ve never tried Adderall, but I do enjoy coffee, and not having one of those Keurig things was something I would’ve done differently. Bring extension cords, a lot of them. IKEA is your Mecca. Bring things to make your dorm room a little less like a concrete fluorescent prison cell and a little more like home.

5. You’re going to either hate your roommate, or you’ll be friends for life.

This isn’t always true, but I’ve never really seen a situation where two roommates kind of just drifted off or spent the entirety of freshman year in a state of passive neutrality towards one another. If you don’t get along initially, you’ll hate them. You will hate them with a passion. My one friend’s roommate would bring a guy she met on Tinder over for a late night rendezvous five times a week. She also had a BDSM kit under her bed and an assortment of 500 flavored condoms. They didn’t really get along. If you hit it off immediately and find them agreeable, there’s a good chance you’ll be friends. If they have weird habits that piss you off by the end of the first week, then start preemptively looking into room change possibilities. Like I said before, something that seems sort of tolerable at first might turn into a living hell within a few months. Luckily, my roommate and I, who were randomly assigned, are really close. He’s one of my best friends. Living with a friend, however, doesn’t always work out either. You guys might grow to hate each other when you’re confined to a 20 by 20 foot box of insanity called a dorm. If you can survive a year of living with someone and still call them a friend, you’ve found a friend for life.

6. You’ll do something you regret, or you won’t do anything at all.

You’re gonna mess up. You’re gonna skip a few classes for the hell of it, and then discover at the end of the semester that missed classes dock your final grade by half a letter and then have to scramble to forge some fake doctor’s notes. You’re gonna get a stupid tattoo that you regret, or you’re gonna sleep with someone you met at a party that you’ll end up hating. You’re gonna put off a term paper for an entire semester and then be amazed at how quickly 12 hours can pass by in the library. However, there’s also the possibility that you won’t try anything new at all and you’re gonna miss out on what freshman year is all about. Blacking out and having to go to the hospital isn’t one of those “crazy memories” you’ll wanna talk about, but again, a drink or two here or there never hurt anyone. Don’t be a wet blanket, but don’t be an admission to the emergency room either. Take calculated risks, but don’t engage in sheer stupidity. This isn’t your chance to start over and adopt some weird persona. This is your chance to finally be yourself. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you’ll find your way. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Jonathan

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