Things I wish I knew my freshman year
Gianna Caravetta | Opinion Editor | @giannacara
Freshman year of college is when everything changes. New school, new friends, and a new, clean slate. Suddenly, you are on your way to becoming a full-fledged adult with new responsibilities on an endless quest to find yourself.
University of San Diego undergraduate students and alumni are in agreement: college really is the best four years of your life thus far.
If they could offer advice to incoming freshmen, or to their freshman selves, students and alumni would say to be bold, fearless, and authentic. As a first year, do your best to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Sarah Zentner is a 2015 USD graduate who thinks freshman year is one of the greatest opportunities to create yourself.
“Don’t wait until senior year and wonder what could’ve happened if you’d joined a certain club sooner,” Zentner said. “College is all about figuring out who you are and what you want to do, so don’t be scared to get involved. The beautiful thing is that you’ll make lots of friends in the activities you do join who share your interests.”
USD junior Liana Rizkalla agreed, saying that she would encourage incoming freshmen to create themselves by getting involved.
“Join whatever [groups or clubs] you’re interested in until you find the group of people you can see yourself hanging out with for the rest of college,” Rizkalla said.
At every college campus throughout the country, the story is the same. You move into your first dorm room with a new roommate or two (or even three), and then, all of a sudden, you have a newfound independence as a first year undergraduate student.
But, before you know it, the year is over. Blink, and, soon enough, you are a semester away from graduating, and the best four years of your life thus far are almost over.
Starting at a new school in a new place with new people, you get to choose who you are and who you would like to become. You do not have to be the same person you were in high school. But, at the same time, be proud of who you are, and be proud of where you came from. Then, strive to do the best you can and to be the best you can be.
These short four years are a time to seize every opportunity, to pursue your dreams, and to make lasting friendships. It all begins during the newness of your freshman year.
Zentner said that being open to new events and to new extracurricular activities will help to ease the nervousness of starting freshman year.
“Try everything that looks fun or interesting to you, every club meeting, every social, every organization, even if it’s something the rest of your friends might not be interested in, and you’re nervous about finding someone to talk to,” Zentner said.
Go to that club meeting you signed up for at the Alcala Bazaar. Grab your roommate and go to the gym instead of watching Netflix. Sit outside by the Maher fountain and breathe in the fresh San Diego air. Get to know the people who serve you in the Student Life Pavilion. Go for a walk across campus. Take power naps. Go to lunch at La Paloma by yourself and people watch. Attend Founder’s Chapel mass on Sundays and immerse yourself in community.
Knowing that college is a time of new freedom, it is important to remember that those freedoms come with great responsibilities. From overspending on appliances, room decor, and bedding at Bed Bath & Beyond before school starts to making numerous Target runs for groceries, toiletries, and clothing throughout the school year, it is important for students to learn to be more frugal shoppers.
USD junior Maria Speckmann believes the easiest way to save money is to live simply.
“I would say if you don’t need something, don’t buy it,” Speckmann said. “It’ll save you a lot of money and space when you move out. I spent way too much money because I bought a lot of unnecessary things and ended up having to leave behind a lot of things because there wasn’t space in my car when I moved out.”
Rizkalla also suggested that freshmen must stay mindful that they are here at USD to go to school, to learn and to get a degree.
“Remember that you came to college for an education, so make going to your classes your priority,” Rizkalla said.
No one gets invited to walk across the stage in the Jenny Craig Pavilion their senior year without ever stepping foot in a classroom. It is your number one priority while in school to go to class, so go, ask questions, give answers.
Freshman year might mean change, but it also brings a great opportunity for personal growth, spiritual depth, and emotional health.
First things first, be bold, be courageous, be daring. Live each day with intention and whimsy. Make friends, but also be a friend to others. Homesickness is okay. Culture shock is okay. Know that if life gets overwhelming, you have a whole campus of support. Support your Toreros. Take care of yourself.