You Ticked A Box

You ticked a box, and now you’re here. Just thinking about how fast you went from high school to college is daunting but you might not have given it a ...

Aug 30, 2014

You ticked a box, and now you’re here. Just thinking about how fast you went from high school to college is daunting but you might not have given it a second thought. You always knew you wanted to come here or you might not have had another choice financially. Maybe you just wanted to try something new and thought “why not?” For different reasons, from various backgrounds and with a wide range of goals and aspirations, we all ended up in the same place — and a strange one at that. We come having lived through approximately twenty years of our lives and are expected to start anew. Yet we can’t help but glance over our shoulders and stare at our past from an ambiguous distance, almost dragged down by all the experiences that we’ve accumulated. Focusing on your present situation and your personal needs will help you overcome what can be a profoundly alienating experience.
It is easy to feel lost or misplaced but many feel the same way. Like our past, our experiences here range the whole spectrum of satisfaction: there are those who have found themselves, those who feel lost in this strange land and those who aren’t really sure what to think of it. Not only are most of us in a foreign culture, but we are also in a peculiar state of isolation, broken only by those who seek adventure more arduously.
We get here and are swarmed with ideals, but very soon a sandstorm of doubt is thrown into our faces. Is it fine to forget those we’ve left behind, and to become someone different in a place where no one knows who we once were? Is it okay not to immerse ourselves entirely in our new community for fear of being swallowed up by novelty? Is it alright if we are unhappy, or on the contrary, much happier than others around us? As a collective of scholars, it is safe to say we tend to overthink things, whether we show it or not. Moderation, in every sense of the word, can only help.
Even if you aren’t limited by your early mistakes, getting a good start will always help you get into the flow of things, whether academically or socially. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be too confident. Don’t wake up halfway through the semester. The beginning of your time here will anchor the way you perceive your first semester, if not your first year. Above all, make sure you build a strong support system and find friends whom you know will be there when things aren’t going great. We all start on the same level here and even though it is a terrifying game of trust, a few failed attempts at friendships will bring about other stronger ones. You’ll find students in your class who share your interests but you’ll also meet upperclassmen who might introduce you to new passions. And if you’re brave enough, there are even people outside the university who will considerably change the way you experience the city.
However, sometimes we have to know how to make tough choices. If you’ve carefully considered your situation and have come to the conclusion that our school is not the place for you, that you would be healthier somewhere else, then do not be afraid to change paths or take a break. We may all be very academic but we are people before we are students. Unfortunately, the distinction is often a very blurry one at our university. But even if your first day, your first week or your first month isn’t great, or is utterly disappointing, don’t close yourself off to the possibility of your experience getting better.
Really. You’d be surprised how much this place grows on you. Just because you ticked a box.
Alex Bagot is a contributing writer.  Email him at
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