Well, Sparklers, it’s been a wild ride, but the time has come—it’s the end of my freshman year of college. People are hurriedly eating what’s left of their dorm food and dragging futons out to their parents’ double-parked cars. Remember when I started college? Remember when starting college was the scariest thing ever and I flat-out panicked for an entire summer? That feels like it was about five seconds ago. I have the sneaking suspicion that I blinked and somehow missed everything between October and February. How the hell did we get here so fast?
That being said, I learned a lot of stuff this year that wasn’t directly related to French verb conjugations and psychoanalytic theory:
1. QUARTERS ARE SACRED. Hoard them! Hoard them like you’re a bear, the quarters are food, and it’s going to be a long winter.
2. Your priorities will shift. Some things, like Doritos and naptime, will become more important. Other things, like showers, will become less important.
3. A bowl of Easy Mac is a meal.
4. In fact, anything microwavable is the cuisine of the gods.
5. You will mooch. College makes moochers of us all. I, for one, mooched quarters, rides home, Twinkies—you name it, I mooched it.
6. Printers don’t work. Ever. They are constantly in a state of disrepair. Even if your printer appears to be working, it’s probably only functioning on a purely superficial level and will break down and/or explode the second your next crucial ten-page essay crops up.
7. The later it gets, the better food tastes. Nobody knows why this phenomenon occurs, but when Easy Mac tastes better at 3 AM than at noon, you don’t question it. Don’t rock the boat.
8. You will become weirdly at ease with your own lack of money/lack of motivation to go buy things. Out of paper towels or napkins? Dryer sheets or coffee filters will do just fine.
9. The dorm walls are thin. Soon enough you’ll know your neighbor’s whole life story without ever having actually spoken with them.
10. When the garbage takes on a life of its own, it’s time to take it out.
11. People will steal your clothes from the laundry room/dump them on the floor if you’re not there to grab them immediately. It doesn’t happen too often, but just often enough to remind you that this is a dog-eat-dog world.
12. Your roommate will always seem to want to hang out in the room precisely when you don’t want them to.
13. You might think you know how to work a microwave, but something about there being an entire building depending on your ability to not screw up will cause your brain to short-circuit, and something will go wrong. Just don’t go running into the hallway with your smoking concoction, particularly if it’s 2 in the morning. The alarm will go off, and angry, sleep-deprived mobs will form.
14. Shaving your legs in cramped dorm showers is a feat of athletic ability that you will never be able to master. (I swear I pulled a muscle the other day.)
15. You’ll put up with more than you ever thought you could. (Snoring roommates, loud neighbors, copious amounts of vomit… the list goes on.)
16. It’s okay to miss your parents.
17. Call your mom once in a while. She likes to hear from you, and also she likes to confirm that you aren’t skipping class to hang out with a biker gang and start fires.
18. It’s okay to be a little (or a lot) stressed out. Everyone else is, too.
19. You don’t have to decide what you’re doing with your life your first year, or even your second year. You’ll run into people who have their entire life plan mapped out on Day One, but they’re probably stupid. Well, okay, some of them are cool people with life aspirations they’re strongly committed to. But the rest just think being a political science major sounds impressive. Things change. Life would be a lot less interesting if they didn’t.
Did you start college last year? What did you learn?