Throughout high school I was known as one of the busiest people in my class, as well as the girl who always had her “life together”; no one understood how I did it. I honestly don't even know how I did it. As college decision time came around, I was one of the first in my class to commit to a school (Clemson University), but as soon as I got there, I realized I no longer had my “life together.”
I always wanted to go away for college, not because I wanted to escape my family, but because I wanted to experience a different part of the country. I knew I wanted to go to the South. I knew I wanted to major in Biology. I knew I wanted to get involved. Once I got to school I automatically fell in love, but soon I realized that for the first time in my life, I didn't know what I wanted. It turns out my “wants” changed. I realized that science wasn't for me, but it was too late in the semester to switch my classes, so I had to stick it out. It wasn't horrible, but I didn't love my classes like I hoped I would.
I struggled. A lot. And I thought I was the only one going through this. But it turns out I wasn't alone. I talked to my friends in the marching band, which I had joined at the beginning of the school year. Little did I know that most of the freshmen were struggling and that most of the upperclassmen went through the same thing. It was such a good feeling knowing I wasn't the only one. If this happens to you, I recommend talking to your new friends about it—you may have more in common with them than you think. So, I did the best I could and made it through my first semester.
I’m not going to lie to you: first semester was hard, but not impossible. I was 800 miles away from home, missed my friends and family, and wasn't doing well in my classes. But as hard as it was, I loved every minute of it. Yes, I was struggling with my coursework, but I got help. I used my resources. I got a tutor. I talked to my professors. I studied with my friends. And guess what…I survived!
Regarding homesickness—everyone told me it would happen, but I thought I was the exception. I thought to myself: “I’m strong willed; I can handle being 800 miles from home.” I was ready to go to college and start the next step of my life. Since I joined the marching band, I had friends before classes even started. I was off to a great start. A few weeks in, however, I realized that I wasn't the exception. I missed my friends, my family, my dogs, my horse, even my bed. I was homesick.
Most people I knew from high school went to college close to home; they could drive home on the weekends. Most people who go to Clemson are from South Carolina; they could drive home on the weekends. I couldn’t. But I got through it. I face-timed my friends at home. My family came down for a football game here and there, as well as supported me in all of my decisions. Because my friends here at school are amazing, after a few days of feeling homesick, I got over it. I realized that it’s a part of life and that everyone will go through it, so there’s no use dwelling on it.
A big thing that helped me get over being homesick was Tiger Band. I love being in Clemson’s marching band. It kept me busy and allowed me to make amazing friends and improve my musical skills. While I was sitting in my classes (the Biology ones that I was no longer interested in), I would remember that I had band rehearsal that day, and that drastically improved my mood. Having something to look forward to after class is huge. Whether it’s a club, sport, tutoring fellow classmates, or another activity, I highly recommend getting involved at your school. I have friends who don't do anything, and they seem to be bored all the time and don't love school nearly as much as I do.
I realize the tone of this article can be interpreted as negative. Please don’t think that. I’m just here to help you out and tell you about my experience along with some advice. I love college. Clemson is an amazing school and I love my friends, but freshmen year was a struggle for myself as well as others. I have switched my major to Political Science and I could not be more excited for my classes and to continue my career at Clemson. My overall advice for your first semester at college is to get involved, make good friends, work hard, and remember—you're not alone.