I am about to (finally) graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.A. in International Studies. Recently I was completing one of my requirements for the Global Engagement Fellowship (besides keeping this super awesome blog) and I attended a panel that was discussing “Strategies for Surviving and Succeeding as a Freshman.” It was pretty standard stuff: use your planner, go to class, take care of yourself, et cetera… But it did get me thinking about the last five years. What do I wish I had been told as a freshman, and what would I pass on to younger students, specifically about the international community, studying abroad, and global engagement? So here are my two cents 🙂
What I wish I had known: No one really has it all together, they just look like they do. People pay about as much attention to you as you do to other people. Be adventurous. Your language skills will never get better if you don’t practice. No one cares if you mess up their language, they’re just happy you’re trying to learn it. Make time for your international events, you’ll miss the fun ones if you don’t. Take a deep breath, it’s over before you know it. Most people don’t end up where they thought they would. 23 is not as old as you used to think it was. The international students tend to stick together, so you’ve gotta work your way in.
What I would pass on to younger students: Take everything one day at a time. Ask questions. Make mistakes, but not regrets. Be adventurous, none of this will matter by the time you graduate. Travel while you can. Take vacations. Do something crazy for spring break at least once. Take care of yourself, but also your friends; you don’t get through college on your own. Don’t take yourself too seriously. International students want to make friends, but it can be hard; help them out.
There’s probably a thousand more pieces of advice I could give, but there’s honestly just one you need to remember:
Whatever you do, do it your way.
Don’t worry about how anyone else is doing it, because they’re not you.
Also, please go to class, get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and do your homework 🙂