Mackenzie Hurlbert – Staff Writer
As my freshman year comes to an end, I can’t help but feel a bit sentimental. No longer will the excuse “Oh she’s just a freshman” apply to any regrettable remarks or mistakes I may make. Likewise, I am reminded once again that these four years are my countdown to the real world, and I’m already a quarter of the way there.
Of course any upperclassmen reading this is probably rolling his or her eyes and muttering, “Yeah? Well I’m on the final stretch, so quit complaining.” While I may be sad about this school year coming to a close, at least I can tell myself I’ve spent my first quarter of my college career smartly and that I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some lessons—such as how to isolate a virus from a soil sample, or what the difference is between a spondee and a dactyl— may not be as useful to my everyday needs as others—such as how to get ready in 10 minutes and how to tell if yogurt has gone bad or not.
In any sense, college teaches us much more than just what takes place inside the classroom. It’s a growing and learning experience and allows us to test out the waters without a guiding hand. While some may have regrettably chosen to sink, I am proud to say that I’m one of those who managed to stay afloat and achieved this by learning from the experiences I had during my first year at Southern.
First off, I learned that Conn is not as awesome as it seems on orientation day. I don’t want to jump on the “Ewww Conn” bandwagon because I do think that it could be a lot worse, but I have to say that what I look forward to the most this summer is my mom’s cooking. I learned to save a meal exchange for Friday so I can eat a tasty dinner at the student center before a weekend of salad and stir-fry at Conn. I also discovered that if I want to use an Anywhere Meal for my boyfriend when we eat together, I have to get in line again and pretend I’m just really hungry and can eat two burritos.
After living in a dorm for the first time, this year has been an eye-opening experience for me. Luckily my roommate is awesome, so I didn’t have many issues there, but the community showers and late night violin practices left me clicking my slippers and repeatedly saying, “There’s no place like home.” First off, flip-flops in the shower is a must because, as I regret to inform you, people do much, much more than sing in there. Second, be considerate and nice to the cleaning lady, or else she’ll leave the trash bins overflowing. Lastly, lock the door every night before you go to sleep because you never know when some idiot boy will come barging in at 2:30 a.m. belting out “Have a holly jolly Christmas!” Ridiculous, right? It happened.
As far as school goes, I learned that time management is key. If you waste time watching TV shows or going out with your friends when you really need to be writing a paper, afterwards you’re going to be stressed out to the extreme. Likewise, if you waste your time and don’t bother handing in homework or studying for tests, you are wasting either your own or your parents’ money on an education you are not ready or mature enough for. Of course everyone has their own priorities, and it’s up to them to figure them out. I’m just glad that the mindset I entered with my freshman year with has not faltered one bit.
I learned a lot this past year as a freshman, but the most important lesson was to stick to who I am. Drinking and clubbing just isn’t me, and I didn’t want the stereotypical college culture to change me as I had seen it change my friends. Some people “find” themselves in college, others lose themselves, and boring people like me just work on being themselves. Lessons on life are always useful, but for me, the things I learned about myself were the most worthwhile.