College 101 Life

10 things I wish I knew before my freshman year of college

Adjusting to the college environment during my freshman year of undergrad was difficult, to say the least. Namely, I began to struggle in the worst ways with undiagnosed depression and anxiety among other things. What’s more, there were many times I thought I wasn’t going to finish my degree because the pressures of adulthood became too overwhelming. 

However, throughout college, I clumsily learned many important lessons regarding how to effectively manage my mental health, how to navigate friendships, course work, and deadlines as well as why it’s important to trust your intuition during such a critical time in your early adulthood.

The lessons I learned throughout my college career helped shape me into the person I am now. So, here are the 10 things I wish I could’ve known before my freshman year of college:

1. Prioritize your mental health 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), over 40% of college students stated anxiety as their biggest concern. In addition, 75% of adults with anxiety disorder started showing symptoms by the age of 22.

With such high statistics of anxiety amongst college students, it’s important to regularly check in on yourself to make sure you’re okay. Making your mental health a top priority will also aid in ensuring other college duties can be properly taken care of.

[Image description: A cartoon brain holds up a sign that says, "Your mind matters."] Via GIPHY
[Image description: A cartoon brain holds up a sign that says, “Your mind matters.”] Via GIPHY

2. You don’t have to have all the answers right away

It’s perfectly okay to not know what to do with your degree after graduation, when you will graduate, or what you want to major in. Instead, appreciate the process of learning from others, learning about yourself, and learning about what you desire to take away from your college experience.

[Image description: A man from the show Schitts Creek saying, "you know what? I don't have all the answers.] Via GIHPY
[Image description: A man from the show Schitt’s Creek saying, “you know what? I don’t have all the answers.] Via GIHPY

3. It’s never too late to explore your options

Don’t let the pressure of having an unwavering plan stop you from pursuing another avenue later in your college journey. Understand, so much can change within 4+ years.

As a college freshman, keep an open mind to the possibilities that will come from the experience of navigating higher education all while coming of age. Don’t shut yourself off from any opportunities that may arise in your later college years, for it’s never too late to act on a different plan. 

[Image description: Beth, Jerry, and Summer from Rick and Morty standing around a table staring at a cube.] Via GIPHY
[Image description: Beth, Jerry, and Summer from Rick and Morty standing around a table staring at a cube.] Via GIPHY

4. Explore outside of your comfort zone

This step is admittedly difficult. I know because I’m an anxious, introverted person who has had a hard time even leaving my house or my dorm room at times. But as we all know, “you don’t grow in your comfort zone.”

Sometimes, new experiences take some courage. However, taking the occasional dip outside of your comfort zone will help you learn so many important lessons surrounding incredible things you didn’t know you were capable of.

[Image description: A man from Schitts Creek talking about growth outside of comfort zones.] Via GIPHY
[Image description: A man from Schitt’s Creek talking about growth outside of comfort zones.] Via GIPHY

5. Don’t compare yourself to others

To put it simply, your college journey is your own. At times it may seem other students are having an easier, more fun, and exciting college experience than you are. However, it’s likely you’re not directly seeing the possible stress, emotional breakdowns, and mental health struggles others are experiencing. Just focus on your journey and your health because that’s ultimately what matters the most.

[Image description: Naomi Campbell saying, "don't compare yourself to me ever."] Via GIPHY
[Image description: Naomi Campbell said, “don’t compare yourself to me ever.”] Via GIPHY

6. Build relationships outside of making job connections

Human beings contain more value than just being beneficial for monetary gain. Build relationships with like-minded people simply for the sake of having friends in your corner when you’re having a bad day and need a reliable shoulder to cry on. Or maybe you meet people and start a book club or activist group to spread positive messages of equality, kindness, empathy, and action.

Whatever the case, don’t let all your connections with people in college simply be for job or networking purposes. It will quickly come across as disingenuous and won’t benefit you as much as you might think in the long run.

[Image description: The Spice Girls dancing and singing, "friendship never ends."] Via GIPHY
[Image description: The Spice Girls dancing and singing, “friendship never ends.”] Via GIPHY

7. Find a mentor

Whether a professor, counselor, or fellow peer, mentors make adjusting to college much easier. Mentors will act as a guide through a difficult transition and offer necessary life and career advice that you’ll be able to utilize years after you’ve graduated.

[Image description: Greg Popovich coaching Derrick White.] Via GIPHY
[Image description: Greg Popovich coaching Derrick White.] Via GIPHY

8. Take mistakes on the chin

Trust me, mistakes are an inherent part of the college experience, especially your freshman year. Again, this is easier said than done, but simply take those mistakes on the chin. You’re human. Stuff happens. Take it easy on yourself, learn from mistakes as they come, and swiftly move on.

[Image description: Hasan Minhaj saying, "It is what it is.] Via GIPHY
[Image description: Hasan Minhaj saying, “It is what it is.] Via GIPHY

9. Seek help when needed

As previously mentioned, it’s imperative to put your mental health first. A necessary step in ensuring your mental health is taken care of, is seeking help when you need it. At the first sign of a decline in your mental health, don’t be ashamed to reach out to a counselor or trusted individual for assistance. Remember: you matter more than any assignment(s), exam(s), and deadline(s).

[Image description: Image that says, "It is ok to ask for help." Via
[Image description: Image that says, “It is ok to ask for help.” Via

10. Trust your intuition

Initially going into college, you may feel you don’t know much. In reality, you know way more than you think. College is a great opportunity to discover important revelations about yourself. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the advice from outside sources: mentors, parents, professors, etc. Do consider advice from others but also remember to trust that you know what’s best for yourself. Balance is key here!

[Image description: People at a basketball game holding up a sign that says, "Trust the process."] Via GIPHY
[Image description: People at a basketball game holding up a sign that says, “Trust the process.”] Via GIPHY
Adjusting to college is difficult. I know from experience. Always remember: take each day, each lesson, and each opportunity as it comes. Always prioritize your mental health, and trust yourself above all else. You got this!

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College 101 Life

Here are 4 reasons why you should absolutely study abroad

The introduction of the Bologna Process in Europe and the overall global unification of higher education systems made it much easier for students to get their degrees abroad. However, with a unified academic system, some may question if there’s a reason to study in a foreign country at all when we can get the same level of education at home and cut so many expenses.

Nevertheless, it appears that this trend of leaving the country to get a higher education or a postgraduate degree is growing. In reality, there are many benefits that study abroad provides students, making the idea appealing to university students around the world. Here are just a few of the most valuable benefits that students considering study abroad ought to know.

1. International students perform better

While it might appear as if studying such a long way from home could result in poor academic performance, some studies show a different state of things. Those who decide to study abroad, have much better grades and later on show much better professional engagement.

One of the main reasons why foreign students get better results than their hosts is the fact that international scholarships require serious dedication. Sure, there will always be those students who would rather party than work on their language or academic skills. However, if I chose to party and skip classes all the time, I would have to spend money on an online agency that would write my dissertation while I familiarize myself with every detail of the city. Since most students don’t have enough money to cover years of college parties and adventures, many foreign academics decide to pursue schoolwork and focus their attention on achieving the required scores for the next year.

2. Better chances for a well-paid job

Studying far from home gives you the chance to meet a wide array of different people, become friends with some of them, and build deep bonds that will last a lifetime. This doesn’t just mean that you’ll have someone to play online video games with. Rather, you’ll enjoy a vast network of well-educated individuals, some of which might become important, reliable individuals that could help you land a well-paid job.

Moving from home at an early age also helps develop some essential skills which are very popular with businesses today. For example, some of these skills include adaptability to changing circumstances. Young people that decide to study abroad have to be very adaptable. Studying in a different country often means learning a new language, getting accustomed to the new food, lifestyle, and numerous other circumstances that can’t be controlled.

Additionally, several international companies offer scholarship programs for international students that usually result in lucrative job offers. Snatching an international scholarship that could lead to quick employment after college is a chance that should not be ignored.

[Image Description: A group of students gathers together in a classroom] Via Pexels

3. Expanding your views

Learning should not be constrained by the academic curriculum and knowledge your professors share during classes. No matter how well-equipped or highly ranked a certain domestic university might be, that’s not nearly enough to get you fully prepared for your future professional engagement. This is especially true if you plan to look for a job in the international market.

Life in a foreign country allows you to experience different communities, which can help you develop a broader view of human behavior, habits, beliefs, and all other cultural aspects that differ from what you’re accustomed to at home.

A student of Architecture would benefit from living in a different country simply by looking at the difference in buildings, roads, and bridges. Biology students could experience diverse animal and plant life first-hand, which is incomparable to reading or looking at pictures. Getting in touch with a new language carries many benefits apart from being able to communicate with the locals. A lot of multilingual students use their linguistic skills on Edubirdie and other essay writing services to make some extra money and financially support their stay.

Since universities usually organize international programs separately from domestic, this means that you’re likely to get in touch with like-minded people from different parts of the globe. Surrounding ourselves with our peers from faraway meridians allows us to expand our views and learn new perspectives and cultures.

4. It’s cheaper to study abroad than at home

It might sound strange, but sometimes it’s more affordable to study abroad than it is in your home country. This goes especially if you have to move to a different town, which makes college expenses much higher, often to a point where packing your bags and flying over to another country appears like a bargain.

The cost of studying depends on the program you decide to pursue. However, you should also keep in mind that not all college degrees have the same value when it comes to applying for a job. European students have the chance to study abroad without paying any tuition fees, as numerous public universities offer free programs for EU students.

Non-EU students, such as those that come from America or Canada, won’t get free tuition but the fees they’ll have to pay are next to nothing compared to how much it costs to get proper education in the US. Taking into account that some EU countries have weak economies but amazing universities it’s clear that getting your degree abroad pays off substantially.

These were just a few of the benefits that come with studying abroad. If you’re looking for an international program for yourself, make sure you check out the requirements for a successful application. Having a strong grasp of the English language is one of the main conditions you have to meet to be accepted as a foreigner, but there’s also a potential need for a visa, application letter, and sometimes your high school degree needs to be eligible as well.

Make sure you get all the details right before you consider applying and know we’re cheering you on!

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College 101 Life Stories Life

The pandemic took away my college experience but I’m learning to accept it

My first-year university experience was unlike anything that I had ever imagined. Like any person finishing their last year of high school, I was incredibly excited for university and more than ready to start this new life that I had spent months fantasizing about in my head. Let me preface this by saying that I started university six months after all my close friends started university because my school started in February instead of September as most do. 

Like every naive first year, I was going to throw myself a lot of clubs, go to parties, make loads of friends and spend all these sleepless nights in the library studying and rushing to finish these final assignments that I had left to the last minute because of procrastination. As cliche and tacky as it sounds, I was going to live the ultimate uni experience and soak up every opportunity that was thrown my way. University was going to be a chance for me to restart, really figure out who I was, and find myself as an individual. 

However, as I arrived in a new place, so did the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a matter of weeks, I found myself going into lockdown by myself in an environment that was completely unknown to me. Needless, to say I was devastated with the life I was living and hated every minute of it. I gave myself a hard time for feeling the way I did because I knew there were other people who may have had it harder than me, and being upset meant that I was being selfish and ungrateful. I’ve learned now that, behavior like that was destructive for me mentally. I should have allowed myself the space to experience the emotions I was feeling even if they were minute in the grand scheme of things.

University itself was hard enough to adjust to, my mental state made me less motivated and made me lose interest in what I was studying. I found myself barely being able to attend my online lectures and tutorials which meant I barely kept up with the content. I was not doing myself any favors. I felt incredibly isolated, did not know anyone in my classes to ask for help if I needed it, but was also intimidated by the idea of emailing my tutor and lecturers. I felt helpless. I’ve learned now that at the end of the day they will help you, but I needed to reach out first in order to receive it. My situation was not unique to just me but to multiple other students both local and international who have either lost out on a semester, a year or even graduation

One thing I did not anticipate was how long this pandemic would last. You hear the phrase “COVID normal” being thrown around so often and I realized that this could very well be my new normal. I had to come to terms with than rather than fight it. I needed to do this in order to spare my own feelings but to also provide myself with relief. There still is, no date for when, or if, life will return to normal. I found that once I stopped comparing my situation to what it should have been like, I started to appreciate it more. Yes, lectures and tutorials would have been a lot more fun in person, but I learned to appreciate the freedom in being able to just wake up and hop into class whilst still being in my pajamas. It made me more motivated to actually “show up” for class. I also appreciated the mundane details, like that I did not have to worry about catching the bus to campus or running late for lectures. 

Interestingly enough, I did in fact manage to truly understand myself and discover who I was. There’s beauty in being your own company for months on end because you spend an almost awful amount of time reflecting on your past experiences and who you are as an individual. I find that I do understand myself better; the pandemic sent me to the bottom of the earth. It was the most mentally challenging thing I have ever had to experience and it honestly made me a lot stronger whilst showing me how strong I was. 

I spent the majority of my time frustrated that the pandemic deprived me of these experiences, it took me a long time to finally accept it but I’ve started appreciating my seemingly different experience. Sure, it’s not what I expected of college, but I’m determined to make the most of it. 

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College 101 Best Friends Forever Life

I considered myself a loner until I started university

Something I didn’t realize about my friends in primary school was that they, with the exception of one girl, were all white. Of course, it didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now, but I never realized how much my ethnicity had alienated me from most of the school.

I only realized my struggle to integrate with the other kids at school when I had gotten to secondary school where I was labeled a coconut; a brown girl with white girl-isms. My school was mostly white back then – it probably had something to do with the area I grew up in. For context, my neighbor used to be Tony Blair. My primary school had an estimate of 10-15 non-white kids so you can imagine the clashes I had with a lot of the kids when they would make fun of my culture and beliefs. I could refer to the boy who decided to rip my hijab off my head when I first started wearing it at eight years old, but I’ll put that down to him simply being Islamophobic. I thought I was the brownest kid you could possibly get in the area until I walked through the halls of secondary school, an experience that continues to haunt me even now. 

In primary school, I struggled to make lifelong friends because I was brown and different. Surely secondary school was set to be easier? After all, my parents had made the conscious decision for me to integrate more with the people of my culture. Yeah, that’s not how it went. 

I developed social anxiety at a very young age – the thought of meeting new people terrified me and I had the worst timing for becoming timid. Going into secondary school made me realize that perhaps people who I had previously considered my friends weren’t really – not to blame them though. We were all young and knew nothing about keeping in touch. Well not with me anyways, my previous friend group are still friends to this day. I was apparently more difficult to reach because my parents were ‘too strict’ for their liking. In reality, they were just Asian. Their parenting ideas were a little different from their parents and that made ‘my friends’  uncomfortable. 

Oddly though, I had the opposite problem when I got to secondary school. The brown kids would bully me saying my parents weren’t Bangladeshi enough and I failed as a Bangladeshi girl – something I hadn’t heard before. My accent was ‘too white’, my sentences too complex, I didn’t speak a word of slang and I read for fun. Somehow, that was really white to them. It didn’t help that my lovely sister was a beautiful and intelligent individual while I was quite the opposite; shy, fat and recused. It’s safe to say I didn’t make any friends in secondary school either. Does it get better for me in sixth form? No. Secondary school left too many scars for me to focus on making friends. I was beside myself trying to pull myself out of a really dark place

My parents forced me to go to university – I know what you’re thinking “your parents can’t make you do anything”. Wrong. My parents could but not in a malicious way that benefits them.  Rather in a way that always filled me with hope. 

My dad had told me that everyone was an adult by this stage, if they had time left to bully someone, consider them pathetic and walk past them. Always easier said than done but in September of 2015, I walked through the hallways of the university making my way to orientation, nervous as heck. Thankfully for me, this girl who had come into the lecture late wasn’t. I felt a light tap on my arm and a voice asking if this was the right place. Denying eye contact I nodded only to be smacked in the arm as she pushed up a seat next to me. “You and me? We’re friends now. You’re stuck with me” the girl said. I was stuck with her and we are friends, even now. But I didn’t luck out at just one friend. There’s my friend who calls herself the fish and chip kid (apparently that’s what people in Somalia call British-Somali kids), my friend who takes enjoyment in towering over me with all six feet of her and my friend who decided that the best way to become my friend was to hold my hand while staring at a video of BTS’ Jimin dancing blindfolded. Sure, my friend group is small but it’s all I’ve ever needed – a kind face or two. My background meant nothing to them unlike it did to the kids back in my early stages of education. I could finally, unapologetically, be myself. 

My friends mean so much to me; after all my years of struggling to connect with people, I learned that it’s not impossible and there are genuinely good people out there in the world. The thing I’ve yet to learn is to go pursue friends myself as all my friends had to approach me.  It’s ok though. Knowing that I have friends that have my back is all I need for a long while.

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College 101 Dedicated Feature Life

This is why you should study abroad – I went to Madrid

I’ve always been a little hesitant and unsure of myself. When I started telling people that I planned on studying abroad for the Fall 2019 semester in Madrid, I could tell that they were worried. I mean, how was I going to survive alone? I wasn’t fluent in Spanish, I didn’t know anyone else that was in my program, and I don’t exactly have a plethora of common sense – I’m more book-smart. I think that part of it was that they didn’t want me to get my hopes up. Studying abroad could be a really great experience or a really terrible one, and there wasn’t room for anything in between. 

But, I was determined to prove them wrong. I always have been. Ever since I was little I’ve always felt that people saw my capabilities as one-sided. I could do this but never that. To me, it seemed like an expectation thing. No one expected me to be so independent and sturdy, especially when I appeared in front of them as fragile or sensitive.

The truth is that I had never been given the chance to prove myself in this capacity. The second that I took too long or wasn’t doing something precisely the way that someone else would, they took over. And, as a result, I became apprehensive, kind of shy, and extremely nervous. 

However, it turns out that I was right. I had been largely independent all along, and studying abroad was a great idea. I slowly realized that I could do anything I set my mind to, even this, all the while holding on tightly to my emotional tendencies. I learned a lot about myself while basking in the Mediterranean sun. 

During my time in Madrid, I met people and made connections in ways that are indescribable. I don’t know if it is because I finally found myself in a situation in which I was free from implicit restraints and boundaries or if I became a product of my surroundings. But, I am sure of at least one thing, that being that I was entering a moment in which I was young enough to still have the ignorant belief that nothing mattered, but also wise enough to know that everything mattered much more than it had ever before. There were so many things, and so many people, clawing at me and insisting for my attention, and I finally let go.

For the first time I acknowledged the positivism of this sweet, even blissful, point in my life—one that I may never get again. So, I gave in to the extremities. In doing so, the whole world opened up. I found security in empathy, I learned about ambition, self-awareness, and I felt genuine longing for the first time. I spent days dancing in streets that were once touched by Goya, Ernest Hemingway, and Velasquez. I read poems by Pablo Neruda on the metro and I ate TONS of churros con chocolate.

What I found to be the most pivotal about my experience in Madrid, though, would be living in a home-stay. This is where I spent the most time, had the most laughs, and learned the most about myself. The day after landing in Madrid I met my host family and moved into their home. While they didn’t speak any English at all, and whatever Spanish I did know I forgot the second I opened my mouth, we managed to work through it. 

I knew I wanted to build a relationship with them, but before I could do that, I had to conquer my own confidence battle. I had to remind myself that yes, they were strangers with whom I would be living with for months, but I was also a stranger to them. Frankly, we were all in the same boat. Eventually, I got used to their habits, learned their family traditions, and studied their culture until I felt like I belonged there. They made me feel like I was as much a Madrileño as they are.

At dinner, my host parents would always ask about my day, my classes, and if I was up to anything fun. On the weekends, they would recommend countless restaurants or art museums to my friends and I, and then ask me if I liked it the next day. They even comforted me when I felt overwhelmed or insecure. What I appreciated the most, however, is that they actually listened to my stories, which I am sure that I told in broken Spanish, and always seemed interested.

We really grew to love and care for one another. In those four short months I am sure that they watched me grow exponentially. I truly became myself and started to feel comfortable in my own skin. Plus, I came out being able to speak and communicate in Spanish light-years beyond my ability from when I first arrived in Madrid. 

My memories from this time in my life are whole, and they always will be whole. I’m finally able to show off my independence and I’m never turning back. This just goes to show that a little bit of introspection and determination could go a long way. Of course, I was scared to be alone and so far away but I knew that it was what I needed.  Once I convinced myself to just rip off the band-aid my possibilities for personal growth became endless.

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College 101 Life

15 things you learn when you live alone for the first time

There’s something magical about the first time you live alone. Everything has the glow that’s exclusive to things that are new and exciting – your first laundry day, the first meal you cook all by yourself, or the first time you open the door to your place and think of it as home.

With your new independence comes a lot of learning. This isn’t necessarily a dramatic evolution, but every little mistake, you will undoubtedly make will also make a great story.

Here are 15 little things you’ll definitely pick up over the course of your first solo living adventure, based on my own personal experience of making mistakes (a couple of times over just to make sure).

1. Mealtimes become optional (but they shouldn’t)

[Image description: A girl narrows her eyes as she stuffs food in her mouth] via giphy
[Image description: A girl narrows her eyes as she stuffs food in her mouth] via giphy
You no longer have to eat at a specific time to make things easier on everyone else, but sticking to a regular schedule will stop you from groggily staring at the contents of your fridge at 1 AM because you haven’t eaten anything since that mid-afternoon bowl of cereal.

2. Don’t convert currency, just compare prices within the region

[Image description: hand snatches wallet instead of taking the bill that is offered.] via giphy
[Image description: hand snatches wallet instead of taking the bill that is offered.] via giphy
Foreign exchange rates had me shook and it took me a while to realize that I just wasn’t going to find things at the same prices that I was used to back home. Roll with the punches and work out a budget.

3. Laundry piles up….quickly

[Image description: "I scrub and scrub, but the stain of human suffering remains".] via giphy
[Image description: “I scrub and scrub, but the stain of human suffering remains”.] via giphy
Realizing that you’ll start a whole new cycle when you have to put the clothes you wore to do your laundry into the hamper at the end of laundry day will make you feel a little pang of sadness. The sight of an empty hamper is oh so satisfying and oh so fleeting!

4. You may not feel like doing the dishes now but once they’ve been sitting there for a while you really won’t want to

[Image description: Man shoves his dirty dishes on the counter and quickly exits the room.] via giphy
[Image description: Man shoves his dirty dishes on the counter and quickly exits the room.] via giphy
What’s worse than doing the dishes? Doing the dishes after they’ve been sitting in their own filth, getting grosser and grosser by the hour. You can try to convince yourself that the stars will align and you will feel like doing them at some point in the future, but you won’t. Just get it over with.

5. There’s a big leap between buying vegetables and cooking them

[Image description: A man forces his coworker to eat broccoli while saying "Eat it, eat it!"] via giphy
[Image description: A man forces his coworker to eat broccoli while saying “Eat it, eat it!”] via giphy
All the good intentions you had at the store wilt along with your vegetables once you get back home and deposit them in your fridge. The self-congratulatory feeling of owning a vegetable, every time you reach past it to get to the chocolate milk, will turn into a deep sense of shame when you’re tossing a limp, squashed version of your healthy intentions in the bin.

6. You have no one but yourself to blame for your mess 

[Image description: A guy frantically pulls a curtain to cover the mess on his floor] via giphy
[Image description: A guy frantically pulls a curtain to cover the mess on his floor] via giphy
So apparently it wasn’t your sibling coming into your room and tossing all your belongings into the air that made your room look like that. You really were the problem all along. Who could’ve seen that coming?

7. You have to deal with creepy crawlers

[Image description: Man holding a swatter runs and hides.] via giphy
[Image description: Man holding a swatter runs and hides.] via giphy
There’s no one to scream to for help. It’s you vs nature and you’re not hopeful of a win. Especially if it flies. If it flies then it has won. The room rightfully belongs to it and you need to make other accommodation arrangements.

8. You can feel lonely sometimes

[Image description: Joey sits behind what looks like a window watching the rain outside. It's revealed to be an indoor water feature.] via giphy
[Image description: Joey sits behind what looks like a window watching the rain outside. It’s revealed to be an indoor water feature.] via giphy
Independence feels great but that doesn’t mean you won’t sometimes miss a hectic full house. Your entire family and pets filtering in and out of your room, having three full meals on the table that you didn’t shop and prep for all by yourself, and always having company regardless of whether or not you want it.

9. Throw the garbage out sooner rather than later

[Image description: A girl wearing an orange vest says "I love garbage"] via giphy
[Image description: A girl wearing an orange vest says “I love garbage”] via giphy
This will sound obvious but garbage stinks more than the act of having to dispose of it. Convincing yourself that the bag can be fuller is damning your future self to a much more unpleasant trip to the garbage chute.

10. Getting locked out is a new fear

[Image description: Girl throws herself against a locked door.] via giphy
[Image description: Girl throws herself against a locked door.] via giphy
The flood of relief you feel when you find your key just when you’d resigned yourself to sleeping outside. The flip side being the confident reach for the key that really isn’t there. From personal experience, taping a sign to your door asking yourself if you have your key before you leave, really does help.

11. Watching a cooking tutorial and following the cooking tutorial doesn’t take the same amount of time

[Image description: A girl refers to a recipe as she cooks in a kitchen.] via giphy
[Image description: A girl refers to a recipe as she cooks in a kitchen.] via giphy
“It took them 40 seconds, why is it taking us 4 hours!” Apparently pre-cut, perfectly measured ingredients don’t just appear along with your resolve to recreate the recipe.

12. You save a lot when you make coffee at home

[Image description: Kim Kardashian makes it rain.] via giphy
[Image description: Kim Kardashian makes it rain.] via giphy
The experience of standing around and having a warm cup of coffee handed to you is great, but mastering good coffee at home will be much easier on your finances (that’s probably still reeling from adjusting to exchange rates). This also applies to all take-out food. Your parents were right. There really is food at home.

13. There are a lot of frantic calls home about how to actually do things

[Image description: Girl appears agitated as she picks up the phone and holds it to her ear.] via giphy
[Image description: Girl appears agitated as she picks up the phone and holds it to her ear.] via giphy
“How far past the expiration date does something expire…..really?”                                                                                      “Quick! Have I gotten the chickenpox vaccine or chickenpox?!?”                                                                                              “Why does this not look exactly the way I remember it looking at home even though I followed your recipe?”    “Who…….wait what was my question?”

14. Housekeeping hacks get a lot more interesting

[Image description: Girl wearing headphones cleans a room.] via giphy
[Image description: Girl wearing headphones cleans a room.] via giphy
Clean out the communal microwave in 5 minutes? Yes, please and thank you. There’s nothing better than finding the easiest way to clean something when you’re the one responsible for cleaning it.

15. There are no rules. Enjoy it….but also maybe set some rules for yourself 

[Image description: Man rips up a piece of paper with the word 'Rules' on it and says 'No rules'] via giphy
[Image description: Man rips up a piece of paper with the word ‘Rules’ on it and says ‘No rules’] via giphy
You’ll make mistakes when you live alone, but you’ll learn from them and be better because of them!

Your first experience living alone will be unforgettable. So make sure you personalize your space, pick up some essential skills, live your best life, and make use of every single minute of your live alone adventure.

College 101 Life

I’m a night owl, but I’m not sure I want to be one

I’m a big fan of working late at night. This is based on my personal experience, but there is also an active discussion about the night owl vs morning lark phenomenon. On the one hand, because the world is better attuned to the habits of early risers, night owls are at higher risk of mental health issues and poor mental wellbeing. On the other hand, night owls supposedly come up with more creative solutions and have generally higher intelligence.

There are many factors that work synchronously to decide if you are a morning or a night person. Factors such as your genetics, your environment, the season, latitude, and where you live all play a part. So, is it up to you at all?

How it works is that your genetics play a role in your circadian rhythm or internal body clock. Research published in Nature Communications reveals that the number of a specific gene you carry places you somewhere along a ‘scale of morningness’. These genes are concentrated in the relationship between how your retina converts light and sends signals to your brain. The body clock of a night owl was found to be more delayed than that of the morning lark. Suggesting that the retina of a night owl detected and communicated light less effectively, resulting in poor body clock entrainment. 

Having said all of that, we also all gradually turn into larks the older we get. Or I suppose, the night owls turn into larks, and the larks just stay themselves. 

Once again, I’m a big fan of the night owl cycle. Getting productive past midnight, working through the dark until the first early rays of light start filtering through the window and the birds wake up. There are no distractions, the entire world is quiet, and it feels like you’re the only living thing in existence. Like right now, all I have to think about is my writing.

But then, there’s the aftermath. Sure the early morning rays are pretty and birdsong is nice while it lasts, but then you feel your energy take a plunge, and the need for sleep rolls in. Your eyes start to droop, your mind feels strangely detached from your body, and you fall asleep while the rest of the world powers up. You wake up and gone is the soft light of the morning, and in its place is its much harsher counterpart, beating down on the world.

The days when you have to wake up early are entirely unproductive, you miss out on breakfast which is arguably the best meal (or at least in the top two meals) of the day, you feel fuzzy before you go to sleep, and never feel entirely satisfied when you do wake up. Before you know it, it’s sunset and you’re back to the night.

If you’re a morning person you get to wake up and see the world all fresh and dewy. You can start your day at a regular meal time instead of waking up groggy and trying to figure out which meal to actually commit to. You can make appointments with more ease and won’t need to prep yourself in advance to make sure you don’t miss out on important events. The only thing you lose out on is the productivity magic that 3 a.m. brings. 

Many advocate for leaning into the times when you’re at your most alert, while others warn of the many dangers to the owl-impersonations.  

It’s close to 2 a.m. now and I feel further away from any real conclusions to the owl-lark dilemma. I guess I’ll just stay up till 3 a.m. reading about it. I’ll get back to you if I find anything.

The Ivory Tower College 101 Life

I used to believe that education changes one’s perceptions until this happened

Those in positions of authority are usually expected to be educated and astute.  But this was not my experience.

I had a job where I had to work with a bureaucrat in Pakistan. My boss referred me to that officer and made it clear that this man had a renowned position.

When I entered his office,  he gave me a look like I was the scum of the earth. Rather than allowing me to do my job, which was to tell him what would be beneficial to us and the company, he gave me an arrogant look and started making offensive comments.

He took my report process to a totally different path. What put me over the edge was when he unexpectedly said, “I don’t believe in feminism and I am also very against women empowerment.”

His first argument was because a lady was working with him and was trying to be equal to a man which he didn’t consider a good thing to do. The second part of his statement argued that a lady having power at a young age was unacceptable, especially if that woman had the same level of power as he did.

The thing that flashed through my mind was that he was the man selected to run the affairs of the world.

He was narrow-minded and if we have such people in our bureaucracy then it shouldn’t be a shock for us to see the crisis our country is facing. The leaders of our country may hold higher education credentials, but they do not exemplify progress.

I tried to ignore his statements but it really shook me. I could see these offensive statements from an uneducated man but to hear these words from a bureaucrat was a disappointment. Ignoring those remarks, I continued my job.

I got to a point where I tried to explain our working style but, without listening, he further added: “I don’t work under a lady, I have never worked, so how could you think that I would work under you?” He was feeling insulted for being guided by a woman. It offended him that a girl was directing him to do something in a way she wants.

Such a mentality is a threat to our society. Education makes a difference in people but if someone fails to learn then it is not a failure of that person but of the institution.

Bureaucrats are always seen as better individuals because of their frame of mind, brainpower, and personality which they acquire from institutions. We morph them into good and educated human beings compared to others.

Bureaucracy is setting the wrong trends if all members of government act the way this gentleman did. True leaders are ready to sacrifice for their country and respect the rights of the men and women in their country. Just because someone is highly educated, does not mean that they are progressive or good for the country.

Those who do not respect all who are under their guidance should not be in office.