The difference between freshman year to junior year is, well, two years. Two may not seem so monumental, but when you are no longer struggling to map the quickest way to class and you have mastered which dining halls are serving your favorite meals during the week, the difference becomes much bigger.
Firstly, navigating your way through campus as a freshman can be occasionally overwhelming and stressful. For me, I gave myself extra time in the morning to rule out arriving to class late as a possible scenario. As a junior, I have memorized down to the minute how long it takes me to walk to classes, no matter the route; I have walked them all. This may not sound so important but when it allows you to catch a few more ZZZ’s and snag a bacon, egg and cheese on your way to morning lecture, you will certainly see what I mean. Speaking of lecture, your class materials play a part as well.
At the start of freshman year, it is common to buy notebooks, folders, and maybe even a binder for every class. Do not forget textbooks! Your bag will undoubtedly pack on weight. By junior year, however, you may wait until the first couple classes have passed to decide whether the textbook is necessary and what materials will be most beneficial. This concept extends to residency as well.
It is common as a college freshman to live in a dorm-style living space. This often consists of community bathrooms, a shared room with one or two roommates, and a hall director. I remember being unable to see out the back window of my car as we drove to school for move-in day because I packed so many belongings. It feels like just yesterday I knelt on the ground beside my bed frame, tearing open boxes and setting up my closet-sized space with organizers and
pictures of my friends from home. As a Junior, my living space changed. Given the option to live almost anywhere on or off campus, I chose to live in an apartment with one of my good friends; a rose and thorn situation if you will.
1. Roses: cooking for myself, being off-campus, air conditioning, near downtown shops and food
2. Thorns: no meal plan, farther from classes, dorm community-feel is gone These differences are major, but in my opinion it is a part of college life to experience living in a dorm, followed by possibly picking your own reasonable place to live. Alongside that comes friends.
Freshman year all students are sitting in the same canoe, with similar paddles. The current is steady, you are all in a familiar place, with a paddle to steer where you would like to go. I remember as a freshman being introduced to all extracurriculars from clubs about baking, saving the bees, karate, and tie-dye. In other words, everyone was looking to branch out, engage in an interest and meet new faces. As the years in college pass by, clubs are always welcoming newcomers. Despite this, freshman is much more willing to put themselves out there and take the time to connect with peers that are Juniors (not always the case). Overall, socializing with those around you I would say is the golden ticket to a rewarding college experience.
College is one of the few opportunities where everyone is relatively in the same age group and has similar goals. Try not to shy away from putting yourself out in a place you thought you would not. The college atmosphere can be an exceedingly inviting place to grow, motivate, and inspire. It is normal to feel lonely in a place that is so anomalous and unknown. Isn’t everything this way until you explore?