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10/12/16

The Truth About My College Experience

Yesterday I got coffee with one of my readers who is a high school senior looking at Lehigh. I love meeting you guys in real life and getting to put faces to names on a screen! It means so much to have the opportunity to form those kinds of connections and experience the benefits of blogging.

Another benefit... I am fortunate in having a space where I can really talk about whatever I want and no one can tell me I can't, and there are people out there who I know I can relate to, influence, and potentially help as a result of sharing my experiences. There are those of you who always comment, email, reach out and respond to me about what I share that makes me feel so much better, too. Blogging really is a two-way street! So, today, I want to talk a little bit about my experience throughout this first month and a half of college and tell you all how it has really been for me, openly and honestly.


A lot of preparing for college is signing up for classes, making sure forms are in, papers are signed, various tasks are checked off a list, and dorms are planned out to decoration perfection. Heading into college, a big worry is how a roommate situation will play out, if you have the right going out clothes, if you've stocked up on the cutest dorm decor, etc. However, the things that matter once you're moved into college and starting to live on your own aren't really those same things. What my dorm looks like doesn't mater at all... Going out isn't something I enjoy at Lehigh, so I don't really care about my clothes... My roommate situation is whatever. The things that matter now are things I never even considered before school, or things that ever crossed my mind.

When I was younger, I went to summer camp about an hour and a half away from my house. My parents dropped me off and I stayed for a week in a cabin with girls and a counselor, and it was like the highlight of my year. I made so many friends, had the best time, and every single year, I would call my parents the day before the last day and beg them to let me stay another week. I never wanted to leave. I was never homesick, I never even got upset when they dropped me off at camp, only when I had to go back home at the end.

Sophomore year of high school when my parents got divorced and my dad moved to Rhode Island, it was definitely a change, but I was used to him traveling for work and tried convincing myself that this was just as if he was taking more business trips and they were lasting longer. I didn't miss him as much as I could've expected to, and I was okay with that.

But, since being at Lehigh, I haven't had a similar experience. I have been homesick. I have missed my friends, my boyfriend, and my family. When my mom left and dropped me off after move-in, I couldn't look at her when I got out of the car because I didn't want to lose it and start bawling. When Jack drove me to the airport and hugged me goodbye, I was crying so hard that the people working at security kept asking me mom what was wrong with me. The first three weeks of school I called my mom crying every single night. I've considered transferring. I've gone out less than a handful of times to parties. I've made friends, and I love my classes, but college is not what I expected.

College is worked up to be such a grand experience of freedom and fun, and it hasn't been that for me. It's been so, so much harder than I thought. College is so many changes all at once, and as much as it's portrayed as the most idyllic time in our lives, it's not necessarily that way for everyone. It's only been a month and a half and I completely understand that giving it more time and trying to make the best of it is my only option and that it can improve, but I've learned a lot about myself in the process. A part of learning about yourself means that it's okay to realized you're not the same person you were, or think you are. In college, you're so, so independent. You're constantly surrounded by people, but you're forced to make every decision for yourself. I went out a lot in high school, and to be honest, I don't here. I don't have that urge. My mom knew I partied in high school and she was a really, really cool mom about it. Here, she isn't here to tell me what time to be home or whether or not I can sleep at my friend's house, but I know my limits. I know how to make good choices, and I've learned a lot about myself when it comes to what really makes me happy. That's the thing... it's an environment that offers you everything and you have to learn what to take and what to let go of.

It's hard for me everyday to wake up, go to class, and walk around campus thinking that I applied Early Decision to this school and I put myself here. It's hard to dislike it when I have so many incredible opportunities that other people might not have. It's hard to miss my friends, to miss Jack, to miss my mom and dad and to miss home. But it's all a part of the process. There are so many opportunities that come out of it, and sometimes you have to suck it up and take it day by day because it's all you can do.

Freshman year of college is hard. There are so many changes all at once, and sometimes it can be really, incredibly overwhelming. To be completely honest, I am so scared to go home this weekend. I am legitimately afraid to be reunited with people I love and to be home because I am so scared that I won't be able to get on that plane on Tuesday and come back. This weekend when my dad was in town I even begged him to help me find somewhere to transfer in January so I don't have to return at the semester. Freshman year is just hard. It's something to power through. It's something that you have to stick through to realized in the end what you want. Maybe Lehigh will turn out not to be the perfect fit for me... but maybe it will. I need to give it more time, and the solution will appear, no matter which direction that solution takes me in.

Thank you for letting me vent and for being the best listeners. To anyone going through a similar transition experience, you're not alone. SO many people are feeling this way and it's so valid to be uncertain of what you want or how you feel. 

Hopefully I didn't ramble too much :)
xoxo

22 comments :

  1. I'm a recent college grad from West Chester Univ. in PA, it breaks my heart to read this because I've been there! I transferred after my freshman year to West Chester (a place I adored), you're feelings are valid and I know it's so so tough but you will come out of this year looking back knowing you needed it - you'll learn more about yourself than ever before and in the end it'll all make sense, I promise! I love your blog and if you ever need an older reader to chat I'd be more than happy to :-) hang in there, it'll all make sense someday... xo💕

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  2. We have all been in your shoes especially freshman year! Please feel to read out at any time if you want to chat!
    XO
    https://splashofpreppy.wordpress.com

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  3. So good! Honestly, freshman year is hard for everyone- the difference is how they hide it. I know so many friends who seemed perfect on the outside, but they really struggled adapting to the change. I'll be praying that you find your place and love college so soon! College is such a wonderful time and I wish I could switch spots with you and start over again. Sometimes being vulnerable with others brings you closer in friendship. Best of luck! I'm here if you need to talk about ANYTHING! I know some friends at Lehigh, too :)

    Sweetly, Sally // www.sweetlysally.com

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  4. Love this - I feel you girl. I transferred. I don't think the "typical college" experience is for everyone. I'm a super independent person but even so it's so hard to get used to dorming - I had a terrible roommate experience Freshman year - and would much rather like have my own little apartment or something

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  5. I transferred after my freshman year, and, if I may offer some advice, I would suggest that you give it at least through sophomore year before you make such a huge decision. Though I was never homesick when I lived out of state for a year, like you, I was really disappointed with what college turned out to be and that it wasn't what I expected. Looking back, I understand that transferring played a bigger role in my life than I imagined it would (I know that, in retrospect, that it was part of God's bigger plan), but almost on a daily basis, as a junior with two and a half semesters left, I think on all the "what ifs?" had I stayed in NYC to finish school (a friend of mine in the same boat freshman year stuck out sophomore year, and she'll be graduating from there because she's so much happier now). Of course, whether to transfer is still solely up to you; either way, you're going to be okay and make it through your freshman year, I promise :)

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  6. Thank you for sharing this!! I think everyone in college can relate to something in this post...I know I have! College comes with a ton of adjustments and it is definitely something that everyone handles differently. You are acknowledging what does/does not make you happy and that is something really important...especially in college when you are trying to understand yourself and what you want to do. Do what makes you happy...and if that's at Lehigh then that's great! I really hope everything works out for you...I know it will!
    -Jessica

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  7. Im not sure what greek life is like at Lehigh but joining a sorority helped me really find my place in school, not just in finding friends but helping my focus on academics. Maybe it is something to consider!

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  8. Hey! I'm at UGA and have been feeling the same way this year. Everyone tells you college is the best ever, but then you get there and the change and craziness gets to you. I called my mom crying for the first few weeks and have totally thought about transferring 1000 times, so I totally feel you. Unfortunately, I think the only thing we both have to do is give it time and hope for the best. I've found a church group and some extra-curriculars I like that help get me through the week, but weekends are still definitely tough because I'm also not super into going out. I don't have much advice, but I know I always feel better when I find out I'm not the only person feeling a certain way. I wish you the absolute best and I'm always here to talk if you want to!

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  9. This post was seriously so eye-opening Frannie. My sister went through a similar transition where she ended up transferring after two weeks of her sophomore year because she solely went back to school for her friends. It's definitely a hard decision, but something to consider if you're unhappy. My college experience has been quite the opposite of yours, but it's inspiring me to write something about my reality about college as well. This post was really refreshing to read and I absolutely loved it. Amazing job! I hope everything works out for you Fran!

    Xo, Kate // asprinkleofkate.blogspot.com

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  10. Just remember that transferring is OK. A lot of people from your hometown may think that if you don't go to school far away that you can't make it in the world, but there's nothing wrong with loving your home and wanting to be close to it!

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  11. This was such an inspiring post! I give you so much credit for being so real and transparent with your readers, especially with something thats built up to be such a positive thing. I can't relate to your freshman year experience because mine was truly a positive one, but I can tell you that you shouldn't try and make Lehigh work if you have to sacrifice your happiness. Every college is completely different and even the smallest changes can make a world of a difference. One of my good friends went to Colgate for the first two years of college even though she was unhappy from the start because she wanted to keep giving it a chance. She thought she'd stay for rush because maybe being in a sorority would make things easier, but for her it just didn't happen. She ended up transferring to Pitt this year (her junior year), which is completely different from Colgate in so many ways and it's clear she's so much happier and has room to grow in that environment. I don't think that vision you probably had of college before you went is completely lost. You can definitely find it, even if it's not at Lehigh. You're so strong for writing this post and I hope you are able to figure out what will be best for you!

    - Emma | www.dashofserendipity.com

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  12. I have been following you and your blog for a little over two years now. We are the same age, but I have always thought of you as such an inspirtation!
    I am a freshman at Iowa State University, and I love it here, but I know many of my friends from back home are feeling the same way as you. My only advice is to hang in there, and try to make the best of your situation. I think it is very admirable, that you were able to sit down and write this post on such a difficult topic. I wish you the best in finding happiness with your college experience.

    - Emma | Fashionablyemma.blogspot.com

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  13. The transition to college is definitely not an easy one. You will get through it. Lots of people exaggerate their real college experiences. I've been through it- you're not alone!

    XOXO
    mQs
    www.shorelifeofm.blogspot.com

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  15. Reading through this post brought back all the awful memories I have of my freshman year. I had a lot of the same struggles you've brought up here, especially when you say college isn't what its cracked up to be. I went home more than any of my friends and found it so hard to go back to school at the end of the trip. That being said, I did end up transferring. Even though I went to a school where most people love it, I had friends (and actually was having fun the majority of the time), and I was near DC, one of my favorite cities, I just knew that it wasn't where i was meant to be. This year I am a sophomore at Virginia Tech and while its been another hard transition, I love college so much more than I did last year. At first when I left for school I thought I was making the wrong decision, leaving my friends at my old school and starting over, but I have never been so proud of myself as I am now. I hope you can figure out what the best move is for you, whether it be staying at Lehigh or leaving. Its a hard decision, but its so worth it in the end! Good luck!
    Also if you have any questions about what life is like as a transfer student and what to expect, please email me! I would love to help, because I know last year I was in such a rough place and I would've loved to talk to someone who was going through the same thing!! :)
    pageepoo68@gmail.com

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  16. I know exactly how you felt. You basically described my first semester as a freshman to a tee! I stuck it out, but still sometimes wonder where I would be if I would have transferred schools to attend where all of my friends also went. I grew to love my school and made awesome friends the second semester. Once sorority recruitment comes around, you may change your perspective a bit like I did! Stay strong and make the best of your freshman year.

    xoxo, Veronica
    vernsavestheworld.wordpress.com

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  17. Hi Fran,
    I just wanted to let you know that this blog post resonates with me on so many levels. I go to Emory University, which I also applied to early decision and now I am asking myself why? I am really homesick as well and cry every time I talk to my mom. I just wanted to thank you for being so transparent because often I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't get how great college is. It is so nice to know I am in the same boat as someone! And please reach out if you ever want to talk! I am 100% going through the same thing as you right now!

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  18. you're my inspiration i love you so much

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  19. No one tells you that adjusting to college takes time, sometimes a lot of time, so don't beat yourself up for having a hard first few weeks. Be ok with being homesick and missing your friends, but also remember that it gets easier every week to start forming a life away from the one you have at home. You're definitely doing the right thing by talking about how you really feel from the very beginning! If you ever need someone to talk to, please reach out!

    Caroline
    www.whenwear.com

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  20. Thank you for sharing this! I know that it probably wasn’t an easy thing to do. Freshman year is such a huge adjustment. I chose to go to a university 6 hours from home and I specifically chose a school that no one from my high school went to, so I was on my own. My roommate situation wasn’t the best and by the end of the year we would go days without speaking to one another. I wasn’t sure if I liked my program and I would skip classes all the time. I would go out every single weekend. I stopped working out completely, ate so badly, and gained the freshman 15. In the end I almost failed a few courses, so overall I wouldn’t say it was the best year. Now that I’m in 4th year I absolutely love my program and I’m excelling academically. I found a great group of girls to live with that and I didn't know any of them in first year. So my advice is to give it another semester, as things can get better, but if you really feel like transferring, then do what’s best for you.

    Erin // Plaid & Pearls

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  21. Reading this post brought back so many memories for me! I attended Tulane (I am from outside Philly) and I had transfer applications (to Lehigh and Villanova) filled out. I was depressed, unhappy, and thought I was the only one. You're not alone, I ended up not transferring and fell in love with Tulane but it took the full Freshman year. My best friend from high school transferred from College of Charleston after sophomore year to be closer to home and she is so happy she did. One size does t fit all. If you ever want to talk to someone who understands please email or tweet at me, and just know that you're normal and not alone. Have the best time visiting home this weekend!!!

    Laura | www.lauraaimevous.com

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  22. I feel like I could have written this post myself. I currently feel the same way about Miami University and have basically written my transfer essay. But it's such a tough choice for me still. I'm definitely giving it the full year here but it's hard and I completely empathize.
    -mary

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