Written by Sourabh Pande
Thursday, September 6th, 2018
I'll always remember the days leading up to moving out for university.
I was filled with excitement and nervousness. Excited to start a new chapter of my life, but also nervous about the challenges it would bring. I knew it wasn't going to be easy and did my best to prepare for it. I took classes over the summer to make sure I was up to par academically, and worked to save up enough money to buy a laptop and have some leftover cash for the year.
In hindsight, nothing could've really prepared me other than actually going through my first year.
Expectations and Pressure
My first year wasn't terrible, but it felt that way because of all the high expectations I had put on myself and university. To make things worse, it seemed like everyone around me was having the time of their lives, and I just never received the memo.
Academically, I was struggling and mostly pulling off Bs. That may not seem bad, but when I looked around and saw everyone else getting As, I couldn't help but compare myself and feel inferior.
Financially, I wasn't doing well either. I had come to university with about $600. I thought this would be more than enough considering I already had a meal plan. What I hadn't factored in was all the times the dining hall would be closed when I was hungry. This meant a lot of trips to the nearest fast food restaurant for two dollar nuggets. Before I knew it, I ran out of meals and money with still one month left of school. This resulted in having to borrow money for food.
Coupling academic and financial hardships, I had no desire to be at university and was homesick for the majority of my year. This further exaggerated my struggles as a whole; it was just not a good time.
If I Could Talk to Myself in First Year I Would Say This
University isn't easy, and it may take you longer than others to get adjusted—and that's completely fine. Stop comparing yourself to others, because you don't know their story and they don't know yours.
Now, as I'm about to enter my third year, I can thankfully say second year went more smoothly.
Here's What Changed
First, I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to do well. This allowed me to stop worrying and just have a better overall experience. I enjoyed my leisure time and made sure I had a work-life balance.
My money management skills improved as well. By going into the semester with a clear budget, I made better spending decisions. I wasn't eating out all the time and found myself cooking at home more and more. This meant not worrying about running out of food and having enough money to last until the end of the semester.
Lastly, I had a better support system thanks to my friends and family. I had kind people around me who offered advice on how to have a clearer perspective to get through the tough times.
It's natural to struggle at something when you first try it, but as time goes on, you'll get better.