So it’s nearly 2am on Thursday morning and as I sit here in front of my TV, watching my favourite episode of Sex and the City (the very last one, when Big swoops into Paris to tell Carrie that she’s the one… sigh), putting off completing that reference list for the essay I just finished and thinking about what kind of ‘what to expect from college’ wisdom to pass on to you. It would seem that the fact I’ve been at college for 4 years now, and (technically) been a freshman twice… doesn’t seem to be helping at all. But then, I opened my eyes and actually looked at what was sitting right in front of me – it’s funny how often we don’t see it. Nevertheless, it just dawned on me – staring at the convoluted collection of books on my coffee table, I actually read what each spine said. Funnily enough they kind of represent exactly what you should expect from college. So, bear with me, let’s see if this works. We’ll start from the bottom (cue Drake).
Book 1: ‘Evolution: The Human Story’
It’s freshman year, you’ve somehow made it through high school and into college but that definitely doesn’t mean that you have any idea of what you want to do with your life… and why should you? You’re 18. So, in an attempt to make some sort of educated guess, you decide to base your class choice on a combination of favourite TV show/film or something that sounds really complicated and intelligent but usually isn’t (e.g. anything ending in ‘ology’). You think to yourself ‘yes! do this, so that when you go home after first semester you can spout a bunch of college-y stuff and sound really intelligent and impress everyone.’ So, you pick archaeology – because, well, Indiana Jones is pretty cool and you think to yourself, ‘why not!’ And you do it. You don’t bother thinking about whether or not there are going to be any jobs after college because you’re a freshman and that’s totally fine! Take it easy tiger, you’ll work things out – don’t panic.
Books 2 and 3: ‘Lonely Planet’s: Ultimate Travel List’ & ‘The World’s Greatest Wonders’
Adventure. Well, you’ve probably already begun. In fact, you definitely have. College in itself is quite the adventure. Whether you’ve moved overseas, inter-state, to a new city, or you’re still living at home – college is the greatest adventure of your life. Be prepared to make new friends, fall in love, get your heart broken and see, feel and experience things that you never have before. There’s a pretty high chance you’re going to contract some form of the travel bug… Whether it’s a Wal-Mart trip, a road trip, a Euro-trip or a Disneyland trip (courtesy of daddy’s credit card of course) – there are seriously fun times ahead. College is a new type of freedom, it’s the freedom to discover yourself. To go on spring break, to let yourself fall for the wrong guy, to go to that frat party and run outside when it’s snowing because you’re from Sydney, and that just never ever happens – even if you’ve already got a cold and you’re jeans are ripped and your shirt is tied up and you’re wearing stilettos because you’re always going to be ‘that girl’ (which is okay you know). This is what college is for. It’s for learning new things, figuring out how they work and how you want them to work. It’s about so much more than the paper you have due at midnight that you haven’t started yet. It’s about putting together the greatest puzzle in life – you.
But! Let’s just deviate from the books for a minute… You probably noticed that bottle of wine sitting next to the pile. Well, that’s also a pretty large part of college. Essentially, college has five main elements: study, friends, romance, parties and alcohol. I’m not saying that by junior year you’re going to be an alcoholic – although some weekends it may feel that way. But the one thing that you will eventually come to understand is that college has taught you that coffee, wine and your squad are basically the only three things you need to function (or not function). Anyway – I digress, but I’ll leave you with a small piece of advice. Buy the jumbo pack of Advil from Costco, you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Book 4: ‘Ghost: 100 stories to read with the lights on’
Now, I’m not insinuating that college is scary because it really isn’t, but as far as the ‘100 stories’ that this title suggests – college is literally that. The reading never ends. So say goodbye to regular sleep patterns and hello to a new found love and appreciation for coffee – especially good coffee. But pro tip (and don’t tell anyone I told you), you can usually get away with reading the intro and conclusion to whatever it is that your stuffy lecturer has prescribed. A lot of the time, college can feel like guesswork. The trick is learning to be able to justify yourself (and citing A LOT of sources that justify, what you’re trying to justify – see doesn’t that sound fun!) – and if you can do that, then you can do college.
Books 5, 6, 7 & 8 (yes I have a lot of books stacked on my coffee table right now): ‘Archaeology of Athens’, ‘Myths of Greece and Rome’, ‘Archaeology in Film’, & ‘Britain and the end of The Roman Empire’
Well, I guess that’s weird right? We’ve come full circle. Let’s skip ahead… So, that seemingly useless class choice you made in first semester freshman year wasn’t so uninteresting after all and truth be told, you found your passion… After living through it for a while, you can actually be lucky enough to start to fall in love with what you study. If you can do that, then not only is the party side of college fun, but so is the study. College is funny like that. At the start, it’s easy to feel lost and like you might have chosen the wrong path or made a mistake – chances are you have, but that’s what college is about. Like all the books on my coffee table, it’s about mixing it up, having adventures and not turning mistakes into regrets but into lessons. You’re allowed to mess up and you’re allowed to not know where you want to go. The only thing that you’re not allowed to do, is let that fear hold you back.
So, what should you expect from college? Everything.