Friday, May 13, 2016

What Freshman Year Has Taught Me

Move In Day back in August
It's so weird that I'm officially finished with my first year of college. It seems like I was just deciding on what college to go to and now I'm all packed up and planning on entering my second year at the University of Florida. I've learned a lot over the past 10 months, like living on the fifth floor of a residence hall is probably the hardest thing ever and eating Chick-fil-A every other day sounds good in theory, but it's really not.

Joining a sorority was the best decision I could have ever made:

I knew I wanted to be in Greek life ever since I applied to colleges. After reviewing academics and overall living conditions, whether or not a college had a great greek system was a priority of mine when choosing my college. UF's Panhellenic Council is second to none. I went through formal recruitment in the fall, a week before classes started. 

My Big and I on Bid Day
Sorority recruitment is probably the most exhausting experience of anyone's college career. Mine was eight days of sweat, tears, and overall exhaustion. I was so beyond blessed to be welcomed into Phi Mu and I don't regret anything.

My sorority has made me step out of my comfort zone more than ever. When I wanted to stay in, holed up in my dorm, my sorority sisters would drag me out of my funk and take me to go get frozen yogurt or have a movie marathon. I ended up with 250 new friends, girls who I probably would never have approached or formed friendship without Phi Mu. 

I found best friends within my chapter: my big (of course), my best friend (who I met on bid day bc we were excited/nervous/had no idea what was going on during a group picture), my future roommate, the girls in my residence hall. It's insane that I get to spend three more years surrounded by the best sisterhood. 

Go to all the sports games you can:

The cool thing about UF is that every sports game is free to students (excluding football tickets), meaning there is no excuse why you shouldn't go to a game. Gamedays are the best, being an obnoxious fan is actually fun, and nose bleed seats are still great.

I only missed one gameday this past football season (FSU vs. UF and I'm still kicking myself about it). Football season in the South is unlike any other. It's hot, yes, and your hair will get frizzy and unmanageable, but everyone is in the same situation. I've been rained on, sweated for six hours, froze my tail off, and had sore feet from new cowboy boots, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

I wish I would have gone to more basketball, baseball, and other games. Schedules get busy and sometimes you're just down right exhausted, but honestly, I'm sad I missed out on some of those events. For the next three years, I hope I take more advantage of going to sporting events (especially baseball games). 

Don't take yourself too seriously:

Yes, that is a piƱata costume. Yes, I did spend four hours making it. And yes, I had to throw it away after three hours after wearing it (also lost my hats 30 minutes into the night). College has taught me not to care about what other people think. I'm guilty of wanting to appease people, but it's exhausting. Being yourself is far more fun, I've found. And finding people to share in the fun is even more rewarding.

Also, I used to worry about how boys would view me and I tried my hardest to be on my A-game at all times, but that's not what college is about. College is about developing who you are and what you want to be in the future. I'm tired of trying to find a boy to fit into my already busy schedule. If one comes along, great. But in the meantime, I'm gonna have fun with my friends, dressing up in ridiculous outfits and brainstorming Instagram captions to accompany them.

Stick to your beliefs and don't let things lose priority in your life:

First semester was hard. I was thrown into a new life: independent, figuring how to navigate a new campus/city, all the while trying to stay true to myself. I worried about being social enough, being friendly enough, and trying to hold onto my friendships back home. I was homesick and didn't want to acknowledge it, so I would avoid staying in and crash in the library or at my sorority house, which led to less interaction with my roommate. I didn't read my Bible frequently like I had once done and I would find excuses to not go to Bible study. 

I found myself in mood swings, getting down about the smallest things, and I didn't feel like myself. I hadn't gone off the deep end or turned to a life that my parents didn't approve of, but I was only about 80% me.

Second semester came and I wanted a change. I didn't get upset if I had to stay a weekend and couldn't come home. I stopped skipping Bible study and started meeting with one of my sisters for a weekly discipleship time. I got closer to my roommate and didn't mind staying in my dorm. I stopped getting homesick and actually grew to love my campus. I camped out in the library when I would have rather binge-watched Netflix. I found a core group of friends and stopped trying to become best friends with every one I met. I was overall more happy and more myself. 

Go into college with your priorities in check and when you feel yourself putting silly things above those priorities, take a moment and reflect. You'll be a lot happier and less stressed. 

GPA doesn't define you:

In high school, I was a straight A student since Kindergarten. I had over a 4.0 going into college and graduated 4th in my class. So you can imagine my surprise when I received my first ever B first semester of college. 

College courses are hard. They don't lie when they tell you in high school that college professors don't care if you pass or fail. I excelled in high school, but I felt extremely challenged when I arrived at UF.

I quickly had to change my attitude and my study habits. I typically spent anywhere from 8 hours to 24 hours in the library a week. I pulled all nighters when I didn't even procrastinate. Deadlines were quicker than I had expected. And even when you study for three full days, you can still get a less than desirable grade on your exam.

So I took the B (shoutout Microeconomics) and moved on. I was upset and confused, but it's college. You're just thankful you don't have to retake the class and spend hundreds of dollars. 

I did better second semester, but it's still challenging. High school is nothing like college. You are at liberty to skip class (only did that once because I went to Disney) or not do assignments or even show up for an exam, professors could care less. Sometimes you spend 14+ hours in the library and beg your friends to bring you food. But it's all part of being a college student. No other time in your life can you drink 3 cups of coffee and smuggle chicken nuggets into the library during finals week and not be judged for it.

So to all entering college, good luck. It'll be the greatest and worst times, but the best time of your life. 


  1. Bailey, this post was so great, and it made me even more excited for college next fall!

  2. Congrats on finishing your freshman year, Bailey! I loved seeing all of your pictures about college on Insta this past year!


  3. Definitely agree on the academics aspect, it was really hard for me too to adjust. Hope you have an even better sophomore year :)