Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day of Classes Jitters



If you don't get even the slightest bit nervous for your first day of classes, whether it's high school, college, grad school, etcetera, I would assume you're lying. Even if it isn't the most terrifying day of your life, in the moment, it feels like it is. And I firmly believe this is normal and healthy.

Of course you're going to get some first day of classes jitters. It's your first day of classes! With new surroundings, new professors, new classes, new classmates, it's all a bit unfamiliar. I know that my past two semesters, and definitely this semester, I'm feeling the nerves to the umpteenth degree. I'm not alone in this, that I know. And now you know that you're not either!

My nerves are definitely caused by these two fears: the fear of not liking my major(s) and having no back-up plan and the fear of embarrassing myself in my Spanish classes because, plot twist, yo hablo espaƱol mal. The first won't be easily solved until I get through the semester and see if I can survive the introductory journalism courses at my school. The second, well, the second can be solved with practice, loads and loads of practice. Problem solved!

That's how I somewhat solved my personal struggles when it comes to the first day of classes. There's no sure way of doing so, besides really reminding yourself that everybody else is probably just as nervous as you and that after the first day or two, the feeling will subside. I figured that while I'm struggling with some first day of classes jitters (my first class, Media Writing, is at 8:30 today, AHH!), I'd share some tips that I've picked up over the past couple of semesters.

1. Remind yourself that you're not alone. 

Really, you're not. I can guarantee that almost every single person in that classroom with you is feeling every bit of nervous that you are, if not more. Some people are just really great at hiding it. I'll never forget my first day of Spanish last semester. Everybody else seemed so confident with their Spanish on the first day and I was 50 shades of intimidated. Weeks later, after we all become closer, we confessed that all of us were so nervous on the first day and thought that everybody knew more than we did. We were all terrified of the same thing, but tried to put on this act to mask our jitters.

2. Read and re-read the syllabus

You'll most likely get your syllabus on your first day of classes, but in the off chance that the professor e-mails it to you beforehand or posts it online through a platform like Blackboard, read it, and then read that sucker again and again until you get a grip on what is to come in the next 15 or so weeks. I feel so much more prepared when I know what to expect from a class and from the professor. If I have a detailed explanation of assignments, grading, and schedules, I'm put at ease (or at least feel a tad bit less nervous).

3. Get your belongings together the night before

Nothing is worse than feeling like you're running late for your first day, or even worse, being late for your first day. Set your belongings out the night before, or even pack your bag the night before classes if you have early morning classes. If you're lucky and have afternoon classes, maybe set your supplies to the side and pack your bag about 20-30 minutes before you actually leave. Knowing that you have everything where it needs to be is one less thing that you have to worry about.

4. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. 

I cannot stress this enough, which is why it is on my list twice. Talk to your roommates, friends, parents, people from work, whoever will listen to you and will be able to sympathize with you. Being nervous is a normal feeling when it comes to the first day, and I wish somebody told me sooner than it was a fleeting feeling, one that was easily solved by making friends in my classes, getting comfortable with the material and with myself.

When was/is your first day of classes?

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