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Positivitea Cup Eight: Advice for Incoming Freshmen

As the month of August creeps closer and closer, the inevitable must happen: the fall semester must start. For some, it's just considered back to school, the commencement of another fifteen weeks of classes, fifteen weeks of stress and adventure. But, for some, it might be the start of a whole other journey in general. The transition from high school to college–or even from a gap year to college–can be a difficult one to make. Even if it's not particularly difficult, there are definitely going to be moments where you might question things, where you might panic and need a solution to a problem as soon as possible, or maybe where you just feel a bit lost or helpless.

1. Keep your mind open to the new and unknown 

Chances are that you're seventeen or eighteen (or who knows, maybe you're a bit older!) and you've been living in the same city for quite some time, surrounded by the same people for high school, maybe even for your entire academic career. You've been influenced by family and your select friends, but perhaps aren't that exposed to everyone else around you. College is the time where every door opens, causing a rush of new beliefs and values and likes and dislikes come into play. You're going to meet people–friends, professors, the barista at your coffee shop–who are going to have new ideas and beliefs that you'll be exposed to. With meeting new people comes embracing the idea of "new things." There's no shame in changing in college. There is no shame in changing during the final years of being a teenager. College is a learning experience, through both academics and life experience. 

2. Don't overthink it

Everything might seem like a big deal. You're meeting new people, you're being introduced to all of these new things, and you're not used to it. You're put in new situations, social situations that you might not have had to deal with since the last time you went to a new school or moved to a new city or even a new state. Sometimes we forget how to get comfortable with new people, how to be comfortable with people who don't know the ins and outs of our personalities. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to micro-analyze every little conversation, every line in a text message, every wording of a sentence or question. The more you think about it, the more convoluted and less genuine in becomes. Embrace who you are and just do as you would. Not everything requires insane amounts of analysis behind it.

3. Learn how to balance work and fun sooner rather than later 

College is full of temptation, whether it's binging an entire series on Netflix, hanging out with your new friends as often as you can, parties, and so much more. Your world opens up when you go to college, which provides more distractions than ever. It's best to learn how to manage this early, before midterms come and you've fallen behind on all of your work because you got too caught up in the social life. There is nothing wrong with making friends (obviously) or having a good time in college. There is nothing wrong with utilizing your Netflix subscription, making memories with your new friends, or enjoying your weekends (as long as you're being cautious and safe). But we chose college for a reason, we chose to further our education, which involves some homework, essay writing and studying more often than not. Find your balance, find your groove. Study with friends, learn how to multitask and watch Netflix while you work, or maybe just take a weekend off to catch up. There's always next weekend.

4. Remember to take care of yourself 

Things are going to get a little stressful. You might have brief moments of loneliness or sleepless nights where the work seems endless. You might have weeks that feel like months, weeks that drone on and on, weeks where you're so tired you could cry. When moments like that happen, you have to take care of yourself. You have to go to bed that extra hour earlier and set your alarm for a bit later. Your morning routine can afford to be shortened if it means catching an extra half an hour of sleep. You need to stay hydrated, you need to eat your three meals a day and make sure you're having your fruits, vegetables and protein. You need to take some time to yourself if you get exhausted being around people. You need to do something for yourself and care for yourself. Your health, both physically, mentally and emotionally is more important than anything else.

5. Be yourself 

It's a bit cheesy and a bit silly, but it's true. If you haven't embraced your true self before setting off to college, there's no time like now to stop pretending. College is the place where you can love who or what you love. Use that new open mind of yours to open yourself up to the idea of new interests, the same that everyone else is doing. Speak openly, speak proudly. Remain unashamed of your interests, of your passions. Make your jokes, state your opinions, show people who you really are. There's no use in faking it or holding yourself back. There is a whole new batch of people who are ready to meet the real you.


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