Looking Back, Stepping Forward

28 Dec

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I don’t know about you, but this the semester we just finished felt like an epic journey that any great writer would’ve been proud to have penned. You may have been like me and summoned the Dory mantra “just keep swimming” during the tough times of the semester. Well, yay! We made it friends. One semester down and another to go until summer break! I have been in college for four years and as a senior, I am here to tell you a few things that I learned while here.

I am here to tell you that:
If you can make it through the fall semester, the spring semester will be easier.
Every semester, gets a little easier.
You still have to work hard.

Like I said, I have been in college for awhile. I am practically a professional by now. There are a few things that I wish I would have either known coming into or going through college, and I am here to share those pieces of golden evidence with you as I approach the end of my student career.

First off, breathe. My father’s side of the family is from a different country and college was something that was unknown until my father went. When I left for college I remember that the whole week before family friends and relatives called to tell me what they thought was the Holy Grail of advice; their opinion. I am here to say that although this advice was used, it wasn’t the universal Holy Grail and you will figure out what the biggest and most helpful advice is for you.

That being said, the advice that I have valued the most was given to me by my now 84-year-old grandmother. She not only survived a world war, but left her home country in the dead of night with her two-year-old son to start new in Canada with a suitcase. She took my hand the day I left for Arizona and said, “You are never given anything in life that you can’t handle, and you must not cry because you, my granddaughter, are going to college and there are far worse things you could do.”

Looking back on this memory and her advice, I can say that there have been both incredibly high highs and low lows throughout my college career. Despite grandma’s advice to not cry, I will be the first to admit that I have cried. I have cried after receiving a D in my calculus class freshman year, and after I learned that I would have to work hard to compensate for that D. I cried when I found myself feeling lonely freshman, and yes, part of sophomore year. I want to make sure that you know that more importantly than sad or frustrated tears I have also cried tears of joy. Those tears came when I got my first 4.0, when I was chosen to intern at the state capitol, accepted to study abroad in Cuba, and most recently, when I figured out what I wanted to do after college.

College is more than the classroom, lab or piles of endless homework. College is where you work out the kinks that make you an adult. It is where you learn to forgive yourself as well as keep yourself on task. It is where you learn to have fun, but also study hard, and most importantly, it is where you learn who you are.

Looking back on the last four years has given me great insight into who I am and how far I have come, as well as allowing me to see where I want to go and how I want to get there.

My biggest advice to you is to take everything in, take a deep breath and continue to swim. You will make it. It may not be the exact way you envisioned it, but it will still happen and you will be okay. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to be or do, but you have to know that you are capable of doing it all.

What you can do is be as organized as possible, plan out what you can and be flexible when those plans change. Four years from now, you will look back on your college experience and realize you’ve done just fine and that moment is when you should share your advice with a new student, friend or family member going to college. Until then, just keep swimming and when you have to look back, make sure to take a step forward at the same time.

–Lauren Erdelyi

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