I never thought I would reach this day. My last year in undergrad. It feels like I was 18 and working at Target while studying for hours for my Psychology 101 course, living my days in the library and under my desk lamp. I was living off of artificial light and my computer screen. But I can’t lie, I’ve learned a lot more than I thought I would have, and I’m here to show you. Take it from me, a transfer student and soon-to-be graduate:
- Spend more money on good shoes.
I say this because whether you are a freshman or senior, you will be walking miles a day. It seems like a lot to say this, but you might be walking up to a quarter mile in between classes, and that is just between two buildings. What about the rest of your day? Or even the walk back to your dorm? Pro tip: If you’re in colder states, wear boots. Especially Doc Martens that have the fur lining. When I lived in Chicago for my first year, I swore by those. Also, all of the buildings feel much colder in the winter, so you best come prepared.
- Your backpack is your lifeline.
When I started college, I asked for one thing: a new backpack. You will be literally living out of your backpack for the next four years. It carries everything, and then some. I’m not advising you to go buy a giant camping pack (you know? The ones with the straps to hold your tent and small stove). I have one from TimBuk2 that is personalized with the colors that I want, but it also is made with great materials that are meant to sustain weather, prolonged usage, and catering to the buyer’s financial needs. They’re not expensive, but a little more expensive than your traditional high school Jansport.
- Start using better handwriting when taking notes
As someone with microscopic chicken scratch, I figured I had a habit I needed to break when my professors were asking me to re-do every handwritten assignment into typing because they couldn’t read my writing. I laughed it off, and then quickly realized I couldn’t read my writing either. While I made the switch to taking notes on my laptop, I know plenty of people who prefer using an iPad or the traditional pen and paper. If you’re someone who struggles with atrocious handwriting, please know you’re not alone and it’s okay to slow down and write more thoroughly. If that doesn’t help, I don’t know what to tell you.
- It’s okay to say ‘no’
Freshman year, I was doing everything I could to be part of every event, club, discussion group. I had so many interests, that I didn’t know what to do with myself and ended up burning out extremely quickly. I struggle with turning people and things down now, but sometimes it’s for the better to learn to relax for a night or two or three. Self care is not always a candle and a face mask, and you can always have your best time watching a movie or even spending time with everyone’s best friend, Target.
- Drink more water than you’d think
My final advice is to use your water bottle, but don’t forget to wash it as well! Drink your water, and then take another sip because you are walking a bunch during the day, maybe participating in lectures, but also maybe exercising in your free time. If you’re dehydrated, your mood swings, you lose appetite, and you just all around aren’t your best you. While I attended school in the desert, I quickly came to the realization that I needed to drink more water than ever before just to make it between classes and avoid heat exhaustion.
My list is short, and will only continue to grow with time. But take a few things that stuck with you that once stuck with me, and make a list of your own. You also have to experiment with what works for you and what also changed for you because you will become so many new people from now until a year from now, and that is exciting and exhilarating.