Marium Saeed is a journalism student at Northwestern University’s branch in Doha, Qatar. She is currently working in Lyon, France and loves to write, read, and discover new cultures.
Musings of a soon-to-be Senior
It seems like it was just yesterday that I was sitting in my university’s forum, being welcomed as part of the class of 2015. The first day of orientation was a weird and wonderful mixture of emotions where I felt both happy and anxious; happy that I was starting this new journey, but anxious (and let’s be honest, a little terrified) about what lay ahead.
Now for all you freshmen out there, people are not lying or being incredibly cliché when they say that these will be the best years of your life. You get an enormous amount of knowledge, opportunity, friends and fun laid out in front of you just by walking through those university doors. What I don’t recall hearing though is how fast those years go by. I remember having a moment of shock at the end of my sophomore year after realizing that I had just finished two years of university. I was already done with half of my time at college when it felt like it had been mere months. Although I’m still asking the question “where has the time gone?!” I’m writing this as a university student in my third year of college who is in awe at how many new experiences I’ve had and the number of lessons I’ve learnt from those experiences.
So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present to you the musings of a soon-to-be senior.
Don’t be afraid to stumble (and maybe even fall)
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a free invitation to fail all your classes. But I feel like a lot of students go into college with really high expectations. They expect it to be a smooth transition from highschool to college. But let’s face it, college is a completely different ball game from highschool and sometimes you don’t always land on your feet; I certainly didn’t. It took me a while to get used to being away from the friends, teacher and atmosphere that I was used to in high school. This was especially hard for me because I had been in the same school my whole life and let’s just say I didn’t realize how comfortable I was there. It takes a while to get a hang of university life, including making new friends, doing well in classes and being able to juggle between the two. I spent the majority of my freshman year in the library stuck behind a mountain of books. Needless to say, it didn’t feel like the amazing, life-changing experience everyone said it would be. Regardless, I’m really grateful for that experience because it taught me how crucial time management and having a healthy work-life balance were in allowing me to have a memorable university experience. To any of you freshmen out there who have now set up residence in the library while others are out there making friends, don’t worry, you’ll find a balance that works for you.
Be open to new experiences
It’s mindboggling to me the amount of opportunities that are within your reach when you’re in college. It’s an experience that, despite its ups and downs, provides you with four years of potential. All you have to do is grab it by the horns and make the most of it. I’ve found that the more anxious you feel about taking part in a new experience the more satisfied you feel when you decide to finally take the plunge and be a part of a new adventure. The most satisfying thing for me is the people who I end up meeting, those who I otherwise would not have had the chance to connect with. Having said that, let’s take a moment to collectively take off those rose-tinted glasses. It’s not guaranteed that you will always come out of the other end of those terrifying new experiences feeling like a completely new person. It may not even come close to being the most satisfying experience you’ve ever had. But the way I see it is that you will have learnt something new either about yourself or others. That makes it more than worth it in my book.
Never make up excuses that will keep you in your bubble
This one is pretty closely tied to my previous point. The only moments in my college career that I regret are those where I don’t take part in opportunities just because I didn’t feel like it at the time or because I was too afraid. We spend way too much time using (really lame) excuses just to keep ourselves in our little comfortable bubble. But I think what everyone should realize is that your years at college will feel like a blur and before you know it, it will be your class graduating and saying their goodbyes. The last thing you want is to have a list of opportunities in the back of your mind that you wish you had taken part in. If the experiences of my now-working friends are any indicator, it’s very unlikely that life after graduation will provide you with as many wonderful experiences as you have now. Make the most of it.
It’s okay for your plans to change
As I said before, you go into college with an idea of how it will be, how you will perform, and who you will be when you put on that cap and gown and walk across the stage to receive your diploma. When that image shifts, which it most likely will, don’t panic! It’s okay for your plans to change from one day to the next and you know what? It’s even okay for you to have no idea what you want to do after college. For some reason, we have this idea implanted in our brains that when we’re at college we will magically ‘discover ourselves.’ But realistically, that’s not going to happen for everyone, and that’s okay. The more experiences you have and the more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll begin to understand yourself and that doesn’t have to happen while you’re at university. Just remember, there’s no deadline for when you should have a definitive answer for who you are. In fact, you may never fully understand yourself, but is that so bad? As long as you focus on acquiring as many skills and experiences as possible throughout your time at university, you will ultimately find what it is that you most enjoy (even if had nothing to do with what you saw yourself doing/who you saw yourself being in the first place).
Phew. So that’s my spiel over and done with. I still have a full year of university ahead of me so I’m sure by the end I’ll have a lot more to add to this list…unless I contract a serious case of senioritis and decide to hibernate until graduation…
Let me know if there are any other lessons you’ve learnt from your time at college! I’d love to hear your thoughts.