Monday, June 3, 2013

My First Year at College in a Nutshell

Smoores here. :) Whaddaya know - I'm still alive!  Bet you never thought I'd be back here... but I like to surprise people.

I just completed my first year away from home at college and I'm now back home for the summer.  My summer schedule consists of taking an Anatomy & Physiology class at a community college, taking lessons on flute, harp and piano, and working part-time at my parents' chiropractic office.  This is considerably more relaxed than my schedule at school, and I realized it's been almost a year since my last post (gasp! time really does fly) so I'm back to blogging.  

I'm sure you're wondering what I was doing for the past year, so I'll give you the run-down, as briefly as I possibly can. 

FALL 2012 SEMESTER (my first semester away from home)

Courses I took: (totaling 19 credit hours - eek!)
America & the Enlightenment, Intermediate Algebra, Introduction to Music History, Becoming a Leader-Servant, Spanish III (audit), Applied Woodwinds (aka: flute lessons + a jury at the end of the semester), Orchestra, Flute Choir, NYC Travel Study: Art (I went over Thanksgiving Break), and Book of Mormon part 1. 
Room situation: I lived on the second floor in the girls' dorm on campus. Each room holds up to 3 girls and has 2 sinks and its own bathroom with a toilet and shower. I had two roommates: Amanda and... to protect the not-so-innocent, I'll call my other roomie "Miss Grouchy". 

Amanda and I really hit it off.  She was at SVU to play volleyball.  She loves doing hair so it was super fun to get ready together for dances and stuff.  Amanda and I got close pretty quickly and she was like a sister to me.  She was a junior and helped me through that awkward transitional period.  Amanda also frequently acted as a mediator between me and Miss Grouchy.  I cried on her shoulder many a time.

Miss Grouchy was there to play softball.  We didn't get along.  She was hard to live with and a bit emotionally abusive to me.  If I said hi, I could never tell if she would say hi back, totally ignore me, or bite my head off for something I didn't even do.  She used my stuff when I wasn't around and never paid me back (i.e., my printer, hairspray, perfume, lotions, shampoo, etc.).  She also hardly ever helped with cleaning chores, and when she did, she made her unwillingness obvious.  Also, her best friend was ALWAYS in our room - sometimes until 5am!  I tried really hard to be nice, but it seemed like no matter what I did, I just couldn't win with this girl.  It was super stressful to always feel like I was walking on eggshells whenever I was in my own room!  Some of my more spiritually sensitive friends who visited my room would tell me that the room felt depressing whenever Miss Grouchy was in there (which was like, ALL THE FREAKING TIME - yet she complained she had no social life.  I'm sorry, but it's hard to have a social life if you literally lie in bed every moment that you're not in class.)  Let's just say, she wasn't a happy person and at the end of her first semester, she went back to her home on the other side of the country. I can't say I'm sorry about it.

Moving on... Lessons learned that semester:
  • If you are clearly trying your hardest and keep reaching out to your professors for help, most of them will do their best to help you succeed. People are often willing to bend over backwards for you if you do everything in you can for yourself.
  • Some people are jerks to you and it isn't always because of something you've done.  Sometimes they are jealous of your talents, or your parents' financial situation.  They may be going through a hard time and instead of seeking help, they take out their bad feelings on those around them.  Avoid these people! You can't help them!! They need to want to help themselves.
  • Some people that you thought were your friends will betray your trust.  Forgive, but remember that they should earn your trust back.  As the old saying goes, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me".
  • Some people genuinely have hearts made of solid gold.  They sacrifice so much time and energy for the people around them. Try to emulate their kindness. And don't take these people for granted - they are human and have hard times too.  Remember to give them some love!
  • Meet as many people as possible.  I saw a lot of other new freshman form cliques with about 6-8 other freshman and at the end of the semester, they only had those 8 friends.  I made an effort to chat with almost everyone I met, and by the end of the semester, I was acquainted with hundreds of people and at any given moment, I could hang out with somebody I liked.
  • Remember that college is for networking.  The people you meet could be contacts for your future careers and business ventures for the rest of your life!  So don't be too quick to brush somebody away.
  • It's a bad idea to take 19 credits' worth of classes if you also have to practice music for several hours every day.  The stress is unbelievable.
  • Sleep is necessary.  You can try to go without enough sleep, but the results are not pretty.  You don't function well.  I saw sides of my personality that I didn't even know existed when I got sleep deprived!
  • Don't skip meals.  Crashing blood sugar also has not-pretty results.
  • People can change drastically when it's their first time away from home.  Upperclassmen are WAY more emotionally stable than most freshman.  They can also give you advice and help you adjust.  Hang out with them!
  • If all your friends are getting boyfriends/girlfriends, don't feel like you need to do the same.  It's ok to feel lonely and left out sometimes, but don't settle for a relationship with anybody just because a lot of people around you are dating someone.
  • Get involved with the goings-on around campus.  Join a club, audition for a play, try something you never thought you would.  You make awesome friends and have amazing experiences that way!
  • Don't forget to call home once in a while. :) You're never too old or independent to hear your parents say, "We love you." And you never outgrow needing to tell your parents that you love them too.

SPRING 2013 SEMESTER (my first semester of sophomore year)

Courses I took: (totaling 15 credits)
College Algebra, Spanish IV, Classics of Western Literature, Jogging, Applied Woodwinds, Orchestra, Flute Choir, and Book of Mormon part 2.

Room situation: I lived in the same room as before.  It was just Amanda and I, which was great because we could spread out and use all the storage space intended for a third person.  

Lessons learned that semester:
  • Be patient with yourself.  If your course load looks like it shouldn't be too hard, but you're still struggling with a class or having a hard time checking off your whole to-do list every day, that's OK.  Just keep trying to find balance, turn in your assignments on time, and don't let yourself get bogged down.  A semester is only 4 months, and 4 months is not long!  It will be over before you know it!
  • Most people start school in Fall the semester.  Be nice and welcoming to the few that come in the Spring semester.  A lot of other people at your school have already formed their cliques and the newbies will need people to hang out with.  These new people can be some of your best friends.
  • People change.  Somebody who you may not have gotten along with before may seem like totally a different (better) person now that they are used to life at college.  These people can become great friends who will always have your back.
  • Sometimes, someone you're really close to gets a boyfriend/girlfriend and suddenly it's like they don't exist anymore.  They never seem to want to spend time with you anymore - or when they do, they are always making googly eyes at each other. It can feel like you lost a friend.  If one friend starts dating another one of your friends, it feels like you lost two friends at once!  Don't be hard on yourself.  They're not intentionally dissing you. They still care about you.  Usually, if you need help, they are still there for you.  
  • Sometimes you have a close friend of the opposite gender who you get along with really well and you spend lots of time together.  Don't let other people pressure you into dating that person.  And don't let other people tease you about having romantic feelings for that person (whether or not you really do like them that way, deep down).  It's none of their business if you two get together.  Try not to let outside pressures or teasing affect your friendship with that other person and carry on normally. :)
  • If a relationship with somebody you used to get along with or used to trust goes sour, try not to part ways angrily.  There was a girl who was not very nice to me after I thought we were friends, and I knew she would be leaving at the end of the semester.  I continued to be nice to her, and her behavior soon turned around and we parted on good terms.  We were never close and I still don't quite trust her again, but I don't have to feel guilty about the way I treated her before she left my life.
  • Drama happens around you.  Try your best not to get involved - ESPECIALLY if it's romantic drama.  Be there when your friends really need you, but don't let them sap your energy and DON'T participate in gossip.  If people know that you are not the kind to spread rumors, then they will trust you.  
  • Make time to relax or work on a hobby that's not school-related.  It refreshes you and keeps some non-partying fun in your life. ;)
  • Never think that you're not pretty.  Never feel like you're somehow less valuable than other people.  It can be really hard to try to jump into dating and have people turn down your invitations or only have the weirdest guys on campus interested in you romantically.  My dear friend Alison told me that I should look at myself every day in the mirror, find one thing about myself that I love, and emphasize it.  If I love my waistline, wear a slimming blouse that day.  If I love my eyes, put on some mascara.  It really does wonders for your confidence!  The right guy will come along someday.
  • College is the time when lots of people come and go in your life.  Sometimes, you're glad to see somebody leave.  Other times, it breaks your heart to think that you may not see them again for years - if ever.  Remember the good times with those people.  Take a picture together before you separate.  And keep in mind that with all the technology we have now, there is no excuse for not keeping in touch with the people you really care about!
  • Sometimes professors give you criticisms that are a tough pill to swallow.  Put aside your pride, take their advice, and you will be better because of it.  When professors critique, it means they know you can do and be better, and they want you to fulfill your potential.

I know that's really long, but I feel like all of it is important and this might help somebody else about to go off to college.  The first chapter of my college life is done.  I grew a lot.  I cried buckets; I laughed until I gave myself tummy-aches.  I learned to appreciate the peaceful moments when my soul could be still.  I made friends that I love to death.  Southern Virginia University is an absolutely fabulous place.  Despite the stress and sometimes getting down on myself, it really was like paradise.  About 98% of the people I met were wonderful and caring.  The other 2% don't matter in the grand scheme of things.  

I always thought my heart would belong only to New Hampshire, where I've lived my whole life and where 9 generations of my family planted their roots.  But now, half of my heart belongs to a tiny school in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Remember to smile! :)


  1. Great post, and welcome back! :) I'm glad to hear your first year went so well, and SERIOUSLY? 19 credit hours? I will never understand how people manage to do that much! Congrats on making it out alive!

  2. Thanks! It's good to be back. :) I will never understand how I made it out alive either, haha. I'm definitely going to take fewer credits from now on!