Columns, Opinion

Culture Shock: College isn’t always like the movies

Going into college, I imagined my experience would be similar to every coming-of-age film I had seen. College is for dancing with the music blasting, riding with the windows down and finding the friends you’ve always been waiting for. My life was going to be a movie and I couldn’t wait.

But that was not the case for me, and it most likely won’t be the case for you either.

College is typically not how the media portrays it. It’s not a seamless transition into adulthood with an alternative soundtrack playing in the background.

Some things the movies don’t show you include the communal bathrooms with hair on the walls, all-nighters while studying for finals and walking to class in the middle of a snowstorm because the bus was full.

Sometimes, the media also fails to show the struggles with mental health, identity and loneliness that many college students face.

If you feel isolated or alone in your experience, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I’ve learned that it is imperative to prioritize your mental well-being, at all times but especially during such a transitional phase of life.

While I believe Boston University needs to invest more in its mental health resources to give students the proper help they need, Student Health Services is at least a starting point. Meet with a counselor there and talk about the next steps of your mental health journey.

Keep in mind that you are also going into college during a global pandemic. Your senior year of high school didn’t end the way you expected, and your freshman year of college won’t begin the way you’ve dreamed.

Even with the experiences I had my freshman year, it’s hard to give you guidance on what to expect this Fall; I am uncertain of the future as well. Those of us who hail from less populated areas are seeing substantially fewer COVID-19 cases than Boston — it’s scary to think we will be going to a city where the disease is so much more prevalent.

We don’t know how the virus will grow in the coming months, but experts are expecting a surge in cases during the fall and winter. This will undoubtedly have an effect on our education and health, which is frightening and disheartening to think about.

If you don’t feel comfortable coming back, take advantage of remote learning through BU’s Learn from Anywhere plan. This decision will, of course, affect your social life and ability to make in-person connections, but we will all struggle to some degree with the social scene next semester.

My freshman year was upended by the coronavirus, and that could potentially happen again for you. So, understand that this year is not going to look like anything you could’ve imagined. But that’s okay — we are all adjusting to the “new normal” of life in a pandemic.

Now that I have bogged you down with some harsh realities of freshman year, I can tell you the good things the movies don’t show.

For starters, there’s diversity — something Hollywood should really work on. You’ll meet people from all over the country and world at BU, so take advantage of that. Diversify your friend group if you have never done that before; it’s important to surround yourself with people of different races, cultures and religions because that is how you gain a deeper understanding of how this world works.

You will learn from others and become more educated on important topics that maybe you have turned a blind eye to, as well as perhaps change your existing perspectives. Remember that your parents’ beliefs on politics and life can no longer dictate the way you think; it’s time to form your own opinions.

Movies also don’t show you the exhilarating, little wins in life, such as getting your first A in university, beating Boston College at a hockey game or catching the bus on a rainy day.

College is a quick change: one day you are living in your childhood home surrounded by all the people you have ever known, and the next you’re packing up your things and leaving. Or, maybe, you’re staying in your bedroom come September to continue online learning.

Either way, you are moving onto the next phase of your life. It is okay if you don’t immediately click with your roommate or have an easy time with your classes — don’t let slight negativities overshadow your experience.

Freshman year will be a learning curve, and it’s important to normalize that. Accept the realities of adjusting to college, struggling with friendships and growing tired of mundane routines.

It’s okay if your life doesn’t look like the movies, because reality is much more fulfilling.

Comments are closed.