This time ten years ago, I left the bubble and comfort of my home, my friends, and my family to move about 1,000 miles north for college in Oregon. Because this is a sort of anniversary of sorts, I thought I would write a letter to that scared, barely eighteen-year-old who was about to embark on this overwhelming journey.
After months of impatiently waiting as all your other friends left for their respective schools, it’s finally your turn. You say goodbye to the friends you leave behind, and off you go. You’ve been so excited to start this new and exciting chapter of your life. Except Mom and Dad leaving hits you harder than you thought and you end up sobbing in your pasta during your final dinner with them at the nice restaurant that you’ll return to frequently—most notably four years later, for graduation.
Bean East, one of the oldest dorms on campus is also one of the smallest. You’ll learn to adapt with living in such close quarters with the roommate from hell, who barely speaks to you, except when she wants to borrow your purse. Those first few weeks will be hard and the first few phone calls home will end up in tears, but as the weeks progress you slowly start to get more comfortable.
The first people you meet will not become your very best friends, some you may never see again after freshman year. You don’t have to join a sorority if you don’t want to and you don’t need to party every weekend to have the “college experience.” Unfortunately, your headaches will get worst (oh girl, get ready) making it hard sometimes to go to class and make friends. It takes time to find your people, but when you do, it will be so worth it. And they just happened to be a few doors down from your dorm room. Instead of going to frat parties, you and your friends will take trips on the bus to the mall and the movies. You’ll stand for six hours at the MacDonald Theater, waiting to see Spoon from the front row. You keep in touch with all your friends who are still at home and learn the wonders of Skype.
You’ll still get to dance, taking tap and jazz classes for credit, as well as joining your own version of a sorority in the form of a hip hop dance team, Jam Squad. This team will be one of your saving graces for the next four years.
School is fine—you’ll change from Psych major to English major only to end up graduating with a degree in Cinema Studies.
People tell you college will be some of the best years of your life. The friends, the experiences, this is when your adult life begins. Everyone is different and every person will experience this time in their life in individual ways. You end up meeting some of your very best friends on the floor of that old dorm, girls that now live around the country but still are so incredibly important in your life. Savor this time. It’s scary. but you will survive. Not only do you survive that first year, you conquer three more years and become a college graduate. I know how scary it seems, that first night alone in your dorm room, but you’re just getting started on this incredible journey.
There is so much I wish I would have known or realized before going into college, some things that I still struggle with today. I wish I had been more assertive and outgoing freshman year, but I was in my first year of being sick with my headaches and didn’t know what was happening. Now, I wish I was still in school all the time! If only I could go back.