In just under 3 weeks, I will no longer be a first year at St. Olaf College. Upon realizing this, I created an extensive list in my journal (which is mostly just a slew of inside jokes, wrongly placed newspaper notes, French verb practice, and interesting conversations) of things I've learned in college. While I now know more about Abraham Lincoln, Machiavelli, French ANYTHING, and the covenants of the bible than I'd ever care to, I also feel like I've learned a few things worth putting up on here, if only for my own benefit/sanity.
1) For the most part, I love people. And, if pressed, I would probably define myself as a "people-person". However, human beings, for a lot of the time, really suck. They're awful, they lie, they manipulate, they gossip, and they let you down again and again and again. But, every so often, you'll find an exception to this rule. And it's these people that make it all worthwhile. So love them, let them love you, and everything else will fall into place.
2) Every. Single. Thing. happens for a reason. I've been living with a hippie for the past year (love.) and--besides the knowledge that I'm horrible with plants, that sometimes (supposedly) primal noises are apparently needed to alleviate stress--she's taught me that absolutely every little thing happens for some greater purpose. And, although the first or second dozen times she told me this I just laughed it off, she's totally right. Every disaster along the way, every earth-shattering piece of drama, every break-up, every failed test, every fight, EVERYTHING happens for some greater purpose. So wallow in self-pity, vent to your bestie, and move on. You'll understand later.
3) Apparently, itunes has this thing called "shared libraries", allowing everyone in your general vicinity to see your music. This can be either a very good thing (instant coolness), or a very, very bad thing (fact: very few people want to chill with the guy who listens to nothing but bad hip-hop and Nickleback. Actually, on second thought, there are some people who would. And most of them live in my dorm...) As the girl who has college a capella and 80's one-hit wonders interspersed with her indie/alt rock, I learned the hard way to make sure you "unshare" your library. (Yes, never be ashamed of who you are, blah, blah, blah. But somethings are better left a mystery.)
4) Staying up for literally days on end may SEEM like a great idea at the time but, I promise you, it's not. You--and your sleeping schedule--will pay dearly for it. (And it explains why this is being written at 3:00 am on a Monday morning.)
5) Sometimes, your closest friends are the ones who live the furthest away. Although there's amazing people on the St. Olaf campus--people who I am ridiculously happy to spend my every waking moment with--there's also a reason why I've kept in contact with so many people who live far away: I love them. Dearly. Which explains why I aim with Julia every single morning, why I text Katie whenever anything even remotely interesting happens (and expect her to do the same), why I run straight to Caitlyn the second I need advice/analyzation/someone to talk to about ANYTHING, and why I routinely talk to Kelley for hours a night. So the lesson here is, as difficult as it may be to maintain a long-distance friendship, it's always worth it.
6) Don't mess with the Caf ladies. They will find you. And make the rest of your meals for the duration of your years at school awkward/scary as heck.
7) You will mess up. And people will talk about you. And it sucks, and you'll want to transfer and just completely escape everything. But, as dire as the situation may seem, they'll get bored and move on to someone else. And you'll be left a stronger--and probably a more interesting--person. (This one's probably especially true at a small school like Olaf, where people literally at times have nothing to do but homework, Facebook, and gossiping. And usually a combination of them all.)
8) EVERYTHING you do will somehow lead to a Harry Potter reference. Maybe it's Olaf's uncanny similarities to Hogwarts (Fact #1: We're not freshmen, we're "first years". Fact #2: All dorms fit perfectly into the Hogwarts houses.), maybe it's simply because we all grew up right alongside Harry and the gang. Either way, I strongly recommend brushing up on your HP trivia before college. You'll definitely need it.