“Freshman year is the only year that actually feels like college.”
When I came across this claim in a random TikTok during my first semester at Texas A&M, I felt a slight curiosity for about 2.3 seconds before promptly continuing to scroll.
I was skeptical. How could college possibly not feel like college?
With parents, hometowns and childhood bedrooms left behind, every moment was nothing short of an adventure — a whole new world of endless possibilities presented each day.
Perhaps it was the long-awaited emergence from lonely pandemic isolation or an invigorating freshman boldness, but it seemed like everybody was eager to start conversations and become friends.
I attended a dorm movie night and bonded with the entire floor below mine. During our nightly dining hall dinners, my roommate and I would enjoy conversations with random students in food lines and across tables. The Community “Learning” Center housed boisterous groups and socializing extravaganzas.
Even classes were exciting in their own way, as lecture halls were originally an environment I'd only seen in movies and now had the privilege of sitting in. Evenings spent studying political policy textbooks with classical music playing in the background felt like the pinnacle of dark-academia aesthetics.
Though the journey was certainly by no means all happiness and sunshine, it nonetheless felt like a wholesome college coming-of-age film.
…Then the bubble burst.
Over the course of the past two sophomore semesters, what can only be described as the “magic” seems to have slowly fizzled out.
Casual hangouts, which once only required a walk down the opposite end of the hallway, now demand planning ahead and driving across College Station. With a schedule of grueling courses, it’s become difficult to romanticize research papers and hundred-page readings.
Adulting responsibilities like paying bills, cleaning and cooking pile up with off-campus apartment living. Never having to wash a single dish after meals in the dining halls or clean the bathroom is a privilege I sorely miss.
Granted, some students may have despised their first semesters and all that accompanied the momentous transition from home. Others may view sophomore year as the highlight of their life.
However, there still remains an inevitable disillusionment that accompanies the passage of each semester. That which once seemed novel and exciting becomes ritual and normal, stress levels continuously climb and graduation looms nearer and nearer.
My intentions with this long-winded anecdote aren’t meant to distress any underclassmen readers or spark a feeling of impending doom. Instead, I hope to impart two important messages:
One, appreciate and make the most out of whatever walk of life you may currently be in.
Whether you are a freshman, graduating senior or former student, nothing will be the same tomorrow, next month or next year. I don’t mean to sound like a motivational self-help book, but if I’ve learned anything from this rocky change it’s that this unpredictability is exactly what makes the present invaluable. The least you can do is cherish it.
Did I ever think I would look back on communal dorm bathrooms and oily Commons fries with a nostalgic smile on my face? Absolutely not. Yet moving onward put it all in perspective.
Two, your reality largely depends on you.
Though starting sophomore year felt like enduring a badly filmed sequel to a great standalone movie, there have been countless happy moments and silver linings along the way — those that have come along naturally and those I’ve made for myself.
For instance, living in an apartment requires scary adulting but also allows great freedom. If I want to bake banana bread at 1 a.m., swim in the pool after class or rest in my room all day with zero interruptions, I can.
An optimistic perspective and taking the time to make good memories are necessary during these chaotic four years.
So, yes, the ominous warning I saw four semesters ago turned out to have an element of truth to it. What the video failed to note, however, is that changing times opens new doors and only makes the present more special.
The “magic” may not be the same, but the adventure certainly continues.
Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and opinion columnist for The Battalion.
I am literally dying right now. This is so based.
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