By: Mia Myklebust
Took a class just because it sounded cool
This is one of the great aspects of college. If a class sounds exciting or interesting you can take it just for the heck of it. It’s great to have this type of freedom after the structure of high school, plus most colleges offer a much wider range of classes. This is a great tactic if you don’t know what you want to major in, and lots of students end up finding a future career from a random class they loved. Some of my favorite classes in school were Astronomy, World Religions and Sailing (yes, sailing), three classes that were totally unrelated to my Journalism degree! So take a chance and pick something just because it sounds cool.
Took road trips
Ah, road trips, the all-American way to travel. There is no better bonding experience than taking off on the open road with nothing but an iPod, a bag of sunflower seeds and some good friends. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Nowhere is this truer than on a road trip. So hit the road with or without an end in mind and live a little!
Joined student organizations
Joining a student organization is one of the best ways to make a campus feel like home. Your organization becomes a little community in which you know everyone and everyone knows you. When you begin to feel like you’re a part of something, a college will really start to be awesome. I joined two students groups and that was perfect for me; if you want a larger community, join more groups! Your college friends are people you will likely keep in touch will for years to come, so get out there and start bonding!
Played capture the flag on campus
This may seem silly, but there is nothing more fun than running around on your deserted campus. This is one of those “rites of passage” things that once I had done it, I felt like I really belonged on my campus. Luckily for me, I got to play freshman year. Exploring campus in tennis shoes, running around like a madman is a totally different experience from looking around while walking with your books. You might just discover some cool spot you didn’t know about while hiding in the bushes. There are also other great ways to explore the campus like jogging or biking!
Stayed up way too late too many times
Confession: I’m a night owl. This may not have been a good thing in high school when I had to wake up at 6 a.m. every day, but in college, there’s a lot more leeway. I was somehow able to schedule classes no earlier than 10 a.m. for three years of college, which was absolutely ideal for my night-loving self. The point of this is not pure laziness but because I had some of my best experiences on weeknights. Whether I was watching YouTube videos with my roommates, pulling an all-nighter in the library, sitting completely immersed in a novel I couldn’t put down, or going on a 2 a.m. pizza run, some of my most memorable college moments happened at night. I think it has something to do with the novelty of not having parents there to tell you going to sleep and no fear of the alarm going off at an un-godly hour. Staying up late is a beautiful part of college that every student should experience.
Lived in my own apartment
Living in my own apartment was a wonderfully eye-opening experience for me after a fun year in the dorms. It forced me to grow up in a way that living in a dorm did not. Suddenly I was responsible for paying rent every month and cooking my own food. I had to remember to clean not just my own room, but also the kitchen, living room and (to my chagrin) the bathroom. These life experiences may not have always been fun, but there is a great sense of personal worth that comes with knowing you can really take care of things yourself. Plus the freedom that comes with living in your own place is pretty darn great.
As cliché as it sounds, the number one thing I’m glad I did in college is study abroad. There are millions of reasons I could have used to convince myself not to study abroad, but it’s one of those things you have to make up your mind to do and just go for it. Don’t let the application process deter you; it will be worth it! Living in a foreign country is an experience that you might not have another chance to do in your life. College is the perfect time. You can get credit while you’re there and many schools have programs that make it very affordable. There is no time to travel like when you’re young, so go for it! I highly suggest going by yourself. You will grow more as an individual if you leave your friends behind and get out of your comfort zone. You will also be more immersed in the culture of your host country if you’re by yourself. A third benefit of going alone is that you will have an easier time making new friends. I made some of my best friends in college while studying abroad because I was willing to open myself up to the experience. Think about it this way: YOLO.
Read just for fun
This is something I struggled with in my transition to college. In high school I was used to having more free time to read for pleasure, however in college my workload increased significantly and I found that reading textbooks rather than novels ate up most of my free time. I had to make a conscious effort to remind myself to keep a book on my nightstand, but looking back I am so glad I did. Even if I only finished one book a month, I’m still proud that I kept reading through the craziness of college.
Learned to cook
Let me say that this was not something I learned overnight. I started off just like any other college kid, eating cereal and making sandwiches, but somewhere along the way (probably when I couldn’t eat one more bowl of Cheerios), I decided it was time to get cooking. I started small, with things like chicken and veggies, but soon I found myself wanting to make more complex recipes. Four years later, I feel like I’ve mastered the basics of cooking and can make a pretty decent meal. Cooking is a skill I will use for the rest of my life and something I’m glad I learned when I was young. After all, a human can only eat so much cereal.
Took opportunities as they came
This is a bit broad, but life can be a bit random! You never know what will come your way, but I’m proud to say that I always took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. One of my goals is to live life like tomorrow doesn’t exist and there is no better way to do this than to take chances and make decisions based on your gut feeling. This doesn’t mean make rash decisions; it means keep an eye out for the good things so they don’t pass you by. As they say, Carpe Diem!