Opinions, Column

From Home to the Heights: The Freshman Experience

We have all gone through it, or currently are: the nerve-racking, fun, and stressful freshman year. At the six-week mark, most of us are well immersed in the delicate dance of making new friends and finding one’s place in the vast social landscape of college. Friendships are forged in the crucible of shared dorm rooms, late-night study sessions, and even later-night runs to the Rat. But at the same time, the fear of not fitting in or missing out on the “college experience” can be paralyzing. 

The age-old college mindset of “work hard, play hard” seems to shift into a “work hard … play a little” trope at Boston College. And without the presence of fraternities and sororities on campus, first-year students expecting the same college experience as their friends at bigger schools must now get creative. 

It’s also important to acknowledge that finding your people is hard to do—and it has only been six weeks out of a four-year journey. So, if you’re currently feeling lonely, don’t give up on your entire college experience quite yet.

All of this, combined with imposter syndrome and an environment marked by academically talented students, can make it challenging to feel like you can shake the more lackadaisical summer mindset. But academics and nightlife don’t even begin to cover the difficulties in adjusting to life on campus. From the intense gym culture to clubs to a possible revamp of one’s closet, balancing everything can often feel like running on a hamster wheel.

So what can we do to slow the wheel down and breathe? Here is what my first few weeks of college have shown me …

First, be social—even if it means taking a step out of your comfort zone. Perhaps start by asking to sit with someone you ran into at the dining hall or the library. Living, eating, and going to class with 2,000 other people in your grade is a perfect excuse to run into and chat with someone you wouldn’t have otherwise. And deep down, everyone is going through the same thing, so it never hurts to extend a friendly invitation.

Second, plan. This way, you will never need to go full Type A. Part of college is being flexible and going with the flow, but having a calendar that lists your assignments helps keep your life on track.

Third, go easy on yourself. There is no need to stress about a midterm that you already took. Balancing the billion things that take up time in the first year is challenging. Figuring out how to manage each stressor is something that can only get better with time. 

Finally, pay attention to your mental health. As we find ourselves in new places, homesickness often creeps in. The warmth of home-cooked meals and the familiarity of childhood bedrooms become distant memories as first-year students grapple with a new reality of breakfast at Mac and nights sleeping on a twin XL. Longing to hear a familiar voice or returning home for a weekend is entirely normal. It’s also important to find resources on campus that work for you. The Women’s Center (located on Maloney 4) or University Counseling Services are a great place to start. Looking into mentorship programs through Montserrat and Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center can also offer more specialized aid. 

So, whether you have found your group of people, are still floating between groups, or feel completely lost, remember that the first year is a melting pot of adjustments, hardships, and everything in between. It’s important to find the fun in the little things and recognize that a lot of the time everyone you know, at BC or not, is going through the same things—even if their social media isn’t showing it.

October 15, 2023