As I am laying here in bed looking back at pictures from my time at Ohio University, there are so many emotions rushing through my head. I changed so much from my freshman year to my junior year. Thoughts about my school changed. Thoughts about people changed. My thoughts about life changed. I am here to tell you about my college journey in hopes that you will learn something you didn’t know before. And if you could care less about my college journey or advice, thanks for sticking it out this long.
Let’s just say move in day was one of the most terrifying days of my life. Growing up I had always told myself I would go to school in Florida or California so that I could be by the beach; three years ago I was terrified to go to school 80 minutes from home. What can I say – things change. But no matter if you’re 30 miles from home or hundreds of miles from home, moving out for the first time will always be terrifying. My mom and I are extremely close which made moving out even harder. And to add to everything else, I was the first one to move in on my floor, so I was all alone in this new place and had no idea what to do. I was so anxious for my floor to fill with complete strangers that I barely ate for the first few days. What added to my anxiousness was the fact that I was going to college at the “#1 party school in the country.” I didn’t party in high school. I wasn’t into drinking or doing drugs like my peers. I would’ve much rather stayed home on a Friday night or gone shopping than got drunk at a party. I wasn’t like everyone else. Imagine being a quiet, introverted girl who had barely drank any alcohol ever, going to the #1 party school in the country – yikes. So yes, I was anxious. I was nervous. I was scared. But I was excited. I was excited to meet new people. I was excited to see what the college hype was all about. I was excited to do things on my own without any rules. Opening weekend was the first time I had been drunk, but it was a weekend I will never forget. I looked like a total freshman in my high-waisted shorts with a white cami tucked in (no, bodysuits were not a thing yet) and a light-weight cardigan on top. My new friends and I stumbled the streets of Athens in our mob of 15 while the upperclassmen yelled “freshman” at us all night long. What I mean is don’t walk in big groups or you will get called a freshman.
Monday came along which meant my first day of my college career! I remember I had class from early in the morning until 9pm that night due to a three hour public speaking class I had every Monday. I got back to my dorm after a long day to find out we were going out. And yes, this is normal because SYLLABOOZE WEEK. But anyways, I was that freshman that didn’t know people went out the first week of classes either, but I got dressed and went out anyways. Let’s just say we went out at 9pm, didn’t find a single party, didn’t go to any bars, but went back to the dorm next to ours to hangout. An hour later and we are getting written up by an RA for underage drinking. Be quiet when drinking in your dorm room, especially when RA’s are doing their rounds. Fortunately, the police were not involved, but the fines, community service, and alcohol class were not fun. DRINK SMART.
After this incident, I very rarely wanted to go out. I was on probation for 6 months and the last thing I wanted to do was get in trouble again. I mean, I went from this quiet girl who barely drank alcohol to this quiet girl who was charged with an underage her first day of her college career. Imagine the phone call I had with my mom – no bueno.
My first semester flew by. I was packing up my room to move back home for winter break before I knew it. Even winter break flew by. I was back on campus before I knew it. But I wasn’t looking forward to going back to OU after break. I remember everyone saying “I can’t wait to be back” but I felt much differently. Why wasn’t I excited to move back? I mean, it was going to be my first fest season as a bobcat, a time that every bobcat counts down to. But I wasn’t excited. I was nervous like I was when I first moved in. I was anxious thinking about being back on campus. But it was back I went. Still with the incident in the back of my head, I barely went out. And when I say barely, I mean maybeee once a weekend. But March came around which meant the start to my first fest season. For those who don’t know, “fest season” is what OU calls our spring semester. Each weekend starting in March, a different street on campus puts on its own fest up until finals week. Sounds like fun, right? It wasn’t. (At least for my first year). The first Friday night of fest season started off with me at a frat party and ended up with me in the hospital. Yeah, you read that right. I blacked out for the first time and don’t remember anything about that night, except for the fact that I didn’t drink that much. So if I didn’t drink much, how did I black out? I was drugged. I was always told to drink jungle juice with caution, which I was that night, but within an hour of drinking a cup of jungle juice, I blacked out and remember nothing. I vaguely remember waking up in a bathroom with vomit all over myself and hearing a girl say “don’t worry, we’re going to call for help.” And then I blacked out again. I woke up in the hospital to a nurse stabbing my veins with an IV. She said she didn’t feel the need to drug test me, but I know for a fact that I was drugged. How is it that my friend and I blacked out at the exact same time when all we had to drink was jungle juice? DRINK SMART.
So, moral of my freshman year is to drink smart. Be cautious of you and your surroundings. Don’t make the mistakes I did. If you do, learn from them.
Because my freshman year was so rough, I was dreading going back to school for my sophomore year. I was nervous thinking about getting in trouble again. I was nervous for new classes. I was nervous for being in a different dorm. I went out more my freshman year than I did my sophomore year. I was basically living in fear. Each time I went out I was anxious and scared for my life. I couldn’t have fun because I was so focused on staying sober enough to know my surroundings and stay out of trouble. Sophomore year was spent in the library, only so I didn’t have to go out. I would purposely distract myself at the library so that I would have to stay longer to avoid going out. Looking back, I wasted away my sophomore year. Yes, it’s extremely important to do well in school, but college is only four years of your life and those four years are meant to be the best years of your life. I was doing anything but having the time of my life. I was constantly living in fear, fear that if I were to get in trouble again, I would either get kicked out of school or my mom would pull me out of school. When I look at pictures from my sophomore year, I have maybe 20, compared to the hundreds I have from my freshman year.
Sophomore year came and went without any incidents, thank god. But my third and final year was quickly approaching. I was moving into my first house and I was SO excited. Wow, did I just say excited?! Yes, I was excited to be back at school. I was so excited to decorate my house (we never decorated it). I was so excited to have my own room and my own kitchen and my own house in general. But I was still anxious about going out and having fun. I spent the first half of my third and final year at home. I would say that up until February of my junior year, I maybe went out 25 times, if that. All I could think about was my 21st birthday and how devastated I would be if I were to get in trouble right before I turned 21. But once I turned 21, I was a completely different person. I wanted to go out every weekend. I wanted to go out during the week. I was looking forward to fest season because I could finally drink without worrying about getting in trouble. The last three months of my college career were the best three months of my entire life.
Looking back on those three years, I have so many regrets. I regret being dumb. I regret being quiet and introverted. I regret wasting away the first two and a half years of my three years in fear and anxiety. I regret shutting people out of my life. I don’t want you to have these regrets. I want you to enjoy your college career. I want you to go out and socialize with your friends every weekend. Yes, every weekend. Because I didn’t. I lost so many friends because I shut them out. I would rather sit in my room than go out and risk getting in trouble. But now that I am graduated and all of my friends still have one year left, I wish that I was them. I wish I had one more year left in the best place on earth. I fell in love with Athens in my final three months on campus, but I wish I would’ve fell in love with it sooner. But I didn’t. And that, my friends, is my biggest regret.
So my advice to you all is to enjoy college as much as possible. Make the most of your time on campus. Find your group of friends that you would do anything for and hangout with them as much as possible, even if it means staying up with them until 5am. Order late night pizza and cookies when you’re stressed out during the week. Make a fool of yourself in the bars. Befriend everyone you come in contact with. Don’t be scared. Don’t shut yourself out. Study hard, but play harder. If you’re at the library until 11 on a Friday night, meet your friends out. Do everything I didn’t do because if you don’t you will regret it. Be crazy while it’s acceptable, because once you graduate, you’ll wish you were back drowning in schoolwork instead of going to bed at 10pm in order to wake up and be to work at 7am. You’re only given four years (maybe more if you’re lucky), make the most of them while you can.
Until next time…