10 things to know about your first week of college

Hello, I am Julia Bluhm, and I just survived my first week of college.


Now, looking back to a week ago, all the anxious, what-if-I-have-no-friends/what-if-I'm-uncool/what-if-I-get-lost/what-if-I-hate-it??? thoughts just seem kinda funny. So far it's been much better, and above all else, much easier, than I anticipated. Not "easier" in terms of school work or stress (I know, I know, it's coming), but easier in terms of meeting people, getting adjusted, and not crying alone on the top bunk. I didn't expect that.

Here are all the things I didn't quite expect about my first week of college. For context, I go to a medium-small sized private school in the mid-west.

An awkward introvert's guide to making small talk

First of all, disclaimer, I am no small talk queen. In fact making small talk is one if my least favorite things to do in the entire world. Sometimes I avoid it at all costs. Sometimes I'm too tired and give up. Other times though, I do it anyways, and I have gathered my fair share of experience doing so. In fact, over the past week of starting college, I've been fairly proud of my small talk performance.

So without further ado, here is my general small-talk advice for the awkward, the introverted, and the slightly-annoyed:

Look for the good in everyone

As much as I hate the idea, I have definitely judged people prematurely before. I think we all have. I have thought to myself "I don't like this person" because of one thing they said or did, or something I heard about them. But people are more than a single action, so give them a chance. No matter how polar opposite a person may be from you, there is good in everyone. And it will be easier to communicate with them if you find it and appreciate it. 

The importance of building your own (life)style

I just started college. I have spent hours listening to people talk over the past two days, riddled with words of wisdom and encouragement. Throughout it all, I have picked up on a single, quite repetitive piece of advice. Every adult (and student) who speaks to us keeps stressing (really stressing) this one thing: Be authentically yourself. Work on figuring out who you really are, and then be it, and don't change because you feel weird, or you feel like you have to. People love that, they said. People respect that.

For some reason this stuck with me. I know it's probably the #2 most cliche piece of advice of all time, to"be yourself" (just after "follow your dreams"). It sounds too simple and yet too impossible to pin down.  It's so cliche that we don't really think about what it means. But for some reason (probably because everyone kept stressing it so much), I thought about it.

 "Be yourself" sound so stupid and so big, because we don't know what it even is. We don't know who we are yet. We don't know if we're going to change. How can I be something that's so impossible to define?

13 little ways to get a fresh start

One of my favorite feelings in the world is cracking open a fresh notebook and getting ready to write the first journal entry those pages will ever see. For me, a new notebook symbolizes a fresh start.  And I love fresh starts. I love that fidgety feeling of anticipation inside of me, excited for the future, and ready for change.

Most of the time, though, people's fresh starts turn really old and frustrating really fast (think New Years resolutions).  Because here's what we neglect to realize: fresh starts don't have to be revolutionary. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be just as manageable as they are daunting. You can have fresh starts, with all their new outlooks and new opportunities, without the daunting goals, rules, and promises that typically come with big resolutions.

Little ways to get a fresh start. Bite-sized ones. Easy to swallow. Pretty much impossible to choke on.

A few college goals

So, I'm leaving for college in 6 days, (6 DAYS!!!) and naturally being the kind of person that I am, I've been doing some sporadic plan-making. I've already drawn out my schedule three different times, made lists of all the possible course combinations I could ever take, and researched future jobs and internships deep into the night. I don't know why I do these things, but they just sort of happen. So, in addition to all of those lists/ plans, it's only natural that I come up with some college goals, too. Goal-making is always a good idea when starting something new, and this is certainly no exception.


On being recklessly creative

I suffer from a somewhat aggressive case of nostalgia. Like, sometimes a wave of nostalgia just hits me, and I start whipping out my old journals, old stories, and sorting through old videos and photos.

In doing this, I always get struck with the same realization: When I was little, I created stuff constantly. I wrote hundred-paged stories, daily journal entries, and depressing teenager-y poetry. My friend and I would make (what we thought were) the funniest little movies of all time, and I'd prop up my point-and-shoot camera in the backyard and take artsy self portraits. I didn't care about the lighting. I didn't stop and think if my poems were any good. I didn't restrict my journal writing to only the "successful days." I didn't read or edit my stories as I went along-- I just kept writing.

Capturing a moment: Acadia day trip

Yesterday was spent biking (and sweating) a lot, eating popovers, taking photos, and admiring the ocean. I went to Acadia National Park with my dad for the day.

Summer reads: if you like life stories

When it comes to books, I have a very particular taste. I mean, I can make myself read any genre of book, but the ones I really enjoy and can't put down are those that focus on someone's life story. This includes true stories/real people (I love memoirs), but also fictional accounts of lives that could, somewhere at some time, almost be real. People's lives are one of my favorite things to read about; they don't have to be showy or impressive or fast-paced. For me, a good book is one that makes me feel something. And all of the books I've read over the past month or so have done just that.