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Lessons Learned from Freshman Year

Ten days have passed since I landed in the “beautiful” LaGuardia Airport, leaving my freshman year behind in Atlanta. As I reminisce about how anxious I was to start my first year of college last August, I realize there was so much I learned over the past eight months. I grew immensely as both a person and a student, and there were definitely some lessons I had to learn the hard way. Here is a list of just a few of the many I learned through out freshman year.

You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate.

This was a tough one. I think, more so for girls, you spend months girl-flirting with people on Facebook, then over text, trying to find the perfect roommate (it will feel like your blind dating). Sometimes you even meet in person. You think you are going to be best friends forever and take on college by storm. And believe me, that definitely happens to people. But that can definitely not happen (which is totally fine). It’s okay if you realize that you and your roommate are not the “perfect match” you thought you guys were going to be. You do not have to be best friends. You just need someone that you can hopefully coexist with for eight months in your 5×5 room space. If you and your roommate really don’t get along, that’s okay too. Just stick it out for the year, and you’ll live with one of your friends sophomore year. Trust me, more so than not, people’s roommate situations are not fairy tales. And that’s totally fine! You should not feel like the odd one out if that’s the case; it’s a learning experience

Friend groups will change throughout the year.

I really didn’t want to hear about this first semester. Sophomores kept telling me this would happen, and I thought they were crazy. But of course they were right. As the months go on, you can still be friends with people you were friends with at the beginning of the year, but as you get to know people better, you get closer to certain people and start to drift from others. It’s just natural. Friend groups shift. Thirty person friend groups that existed in August don’t last. Everyone’s trying to get to know each other, but then as the months ware on, the craziness dies down. You find your niche, and you absolutely love it!

Classes are harder, so be proud of the work you’ve done.

I had to deal with this come second semester. I kicked butt first semester. Freshman seminar? No problem. Freshman writing? Ha, I can do that. Then, real classes came with extremely harsh grading. But I had to realize, and so will you, that college is not high school. The expectations are higher and the classes are tougher. Work your hardest and be proud of the grade that you receive, knowing that you did your best. Emory is one of the best colleges in the country; it’s an achievement in itself that you got here!

Learn to balance studying and going out.

There is so much to do at Emory. Not only going out to parties, but just so many restaurants and cool activities to do in Atlanta. It’s hard to not want to explore. And no parents to nag and tell you what to do! But it’s important to really hone down on your time management skills. Especially if you choose to go through recruitment, second semester becomes filled with fraternity and sorority events that you will want to go to along with your schoolwork. Time management is key.

You will get homesick, so be sure to keep in touch with home friends. And call your parents!

You will miss home like crazy! Your bed, the food, your family, your friends, showering without flip-flops on, you name it and you will miss it. Be sure to stay connected with as many people as possible! And call your parents because they miss you, and you miss them (or should at least pretend to) and it’s a nice thing to do. So call your parents. I’m serious. No one is too cool to talk to his or her mom. I spoke to my mom every day; she loved hearing about updates as small as what dressing I had on my salad for lunch. Also, you realize at school that your parents did so many things for you that you have no idea how to do for yourself. For example, sending packages, making doctor’s appointments, ordering medication. These are all things you’ll find yourself calling your parents and asking them how to do once you are away at school.

Please try to avoid the DUC* as much as possible. It’s not worth it.

Okay, I know all the freshmen have to be on the DUC meal plan, but seriously just don’t eat there. Especially if the main meal is fish, then you know there’s nothing to eat at the DUC for the day. Go to Cox. But after a while, Cox gets to be gross too. I would say Highland Bakery but it’s a little bit of a far walk if you’re not a B-school kid, and it is expensive. So you’re pretty much stuck with the DUC unless you just buy groceries and make your own food. I always go for salad at the DUC with grilled chicken, and I love their French fries.

*Since this article was published, the DUC (Dobbs University Center) has made way for the new Emory Student Center (initially the Campus Life Center). While the new ESC is being built in the center of campus, students dine at an environmentally sustainable temporary structure called the DUC-ling. The Emory Student Center will open in May 2019 with various dining options and many new collaborative spaces. Take a virtual tour of the building!

Soak it all in, because before you know it, you’ll be sophomores.

This is all too important! Freshman year went by crazily fast! I cannot believe I’m going to be a sophomore in college already. It can be hard to soak it in because it’s such a huge transition year, with school, friends, and living away from home, but really just try to make the best of everything! Second semester really goes by quickly once the weather starts to get nicer, so take advantage of it. And have the most fantastic freshman year! You will absolutely love Emory!

This article was originally written by Isabel Malmazada on May 15th, 2015 and published on It has been re-published here with permission from Odyssey’s editorial staff and the author.

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