The second I woke up on Aug. 1, two things happened: I blasted “august” by Taylor Swift on repeat, and I felt a tornado of sorts forming in my brain.
August has always been a month of transition for me, especially in the last couple of years. As I’m writing this in the midst of packing to return to BU, packing up simultaneously feels familiar and completely different. Long-time family friends keep asking me how old I am now and what year of college I’m going into, and it feels weird to tell them that I’m a junior.
For new students, I do have a couple of recommendations for actual things to pack. Print out a couple of photos to hang up that you can look at when you need an uplifting moment (but be very careful of what kind of tape you put on the walls). Next: you can never have too many pens. And even having one plant can do wonders. But when it comes down to packing specifics, I am the worst person to ask because I change my mind too often and forget what I’ve done the year before.
However, as someone who fixates on time and life transitions, it only feels right to share some things I’ve learned as I come back to Boston University for my third year. I like to remind myself of these tips whenever a new semester starts.
These pieces of advice have helped me personally, so it’s likely everyone won’t agree or relate entirely. But I hope they will help at least one person feel less overwhelmed as the semester begins, especially a semester as intimidating to any student, returning or new. I also strongly believe that even if you can’t relate to specific situations, you can find something in every story told to relate to and apply to your own life.
1. Embrace naps. I didn’t take naps during my high school years because I never had the time. In college, you have more time than you know what to do with (at least initially, before you realize how to fill it). But take that nap before class. Heck, take two in a day if it’s one of those days. Your body knows itself, college is tiring and that assignment won’t get done unless you take a break. So sleep, please.
2. Speaking of breaks, find your outlet. Find that thing to do in between assignments to relieve your mind and soul, which you’ll rely on when times get hard. Some of mine are making niche Spotify playlists, coloring in adult coloring books and writing in my journal. They look different for everyone, though. But I strongly encourage you to find something to do that isn’t academic. College is more than just studying for tests and writing papers.
3. Rely on your friends. The first semester of my freshman year was incredibly difficult for me. But when I look back now at what got me through those tough moments, it was my friends. Between all the stresses of late nights, piles of assignments and worries about the future, my friends and their laughter, humility and overall well being are what make those hard times doable. Don’t be afraid to lean on them from time to time.
4. It’s okay if it takes you a while to find your people. I’m still finding different friendships to this day, and I know I’ll continue finding more. It can be exhausting and emotionally taxing to sense where you fit in and what people you want to surround yourself with, but if you’re as lucky as I have been, you’ll find them. There are truly so many wonderful people in this school. Keep an open mind when meeting people.
5. Embrace missteps. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve messed up and felt like I was a failure. But during those moments, no matter how horrible you feel, try to make yourself believe that it’s going to be okay. Life is literally just one misstep after another with some successes in between. We wouldn’t be able to grow if everything was fine all the time. Don’t be afraid to fail. Even if it doesn’t seem possible, we always get back up.
I realize that this may not be your typical “move-in” guide. I still don’t have the whole packing thing down to perfection, and I bring more dresses than I need. But I hope, no matter if you’re coming to Boston for the first time or the fourth, that this year is everything you want it to be. I know I’m excited, but I also am a little nervous as well, and that’s okay. As we step back on Commonwealth Avenue again, it’s going to be a refresh for all of us. So take it all in, keep pushing through and enjoy it.