As my first year at UNC comes to a bittersweet close, I can't help but look back on my first two semesters as a college student. It was full of stu(dying) and went by WAY too fast, but I'm very happy with the memories and friends that I've made along the way. However, there are definitely a couple of things that I wish I'd known before coming here, so if you're an incoming first-year, here are some tips for you.
1. The Golden Triangle
This is entirely too accurate. You can have a combination enough sleep, a social life or good grades, but you can't have all three. There's just not enough hours in the day. I (mostly not of my own volition) chose to shoot for good grades and a social life, and thus suffered from a lack of sleep. Naps are your friend! Take short, frequent naps. Longer than 20 minutes is not a good idea, because you'll end up oversleeping.
2. Google Calendar is your ~very best friend~
I never used to use Google Calendar in high school, instead using a paper planner. This is no bueno for college! With GC, you can see your entire month, and it makes scheduling study times so. much. easier. It sends notifications to your phone too, which has saved me from missing many due dates!
3. You're not going to automatically find your "niche"
"OMG you're gonna meet SO MANY PEOPLE at FallFest and fall right in with the right people and make so many new friends!!!!!!"
Not exactly. While it is really easy to meet new people (seriously, I've probably met a new and interesting person every day) it's a lot harder to actually meet people that you'll make lasting friendships with. While I really liked FallFest, there were an overwhelming amount of things to see and I didn't really find a group that I clicked with. The way I met my closest friends was through going out with my suite-mates, joining Epsilon Eta (the coed Honors Environmental Fraternity), playing on multiple intramural sports teams and generally finding people through mutual friends.
4. Your friends (and you) are going to change, and that's okay
The people you hang out with first semester won't necessarily be the people you hang out with second semester. College is a time when people are finding themselves and constantly evolving, so it's completely natural if you drift apart from people you considered your closest friends. Don't freak out, you'll find new people to grow with and learn, and who knows, you might end up being friends with that person again. It's a cycle!
5. You're gonna feel lonely
This is something that really surprised me. How could I feel alone while living in a dorm with 636 residents and spend my day constantly surrounded by people?? College is one of the most liberating but also one of the most isolating experiences in my life so far. Honestly I don't think I can describe what it feels like, but I can tell you that it helps to call your parents, send postcards to friends back home and bring plenty of pictures to decorate your dorm.
College is definitely a mixed bag of experiences, but try your best and keep a positive outlook and you'll be fine. As a last minute tip: Franklin Street and Carborro are definitely places you should explore on the weekend with friends. There are so many hidden gems!
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