The First Year of College: An Honest Look at My Experience

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Madeleine, Hydrocephalus Association Teens Take Charge bloggerBy Madeleine Darowiche, Teens Take Charge Mentor Task Force Member

One of the biggest lessons I took away from this past year was that this first year in college was hard in ways different than I had expected. There were times I thought I wouldn’t make it through the year. I wasn’t even that far from home, but it was still difficult.  In the end, I am very proud that I stuck it out and stayed because I needed to, for no one but myself. Here is an honest look at my experience over this first year.

Friends. In movies and TV shows, it often seems like roommates are the best of friends. Well that definitely isn’t 100% true.  Unfortunately, my roommates and I were beyond incompatible, so I ended up moving twice due to some personality conflicts. Also, before I arrived at college, I had the mindset that I was going to immediately make many friends, which didn’t happen because, by the time I got there, I was too overwhelmed with the new environment and all the adjustments.

I ended up becoming really good friends with one of my roommates from the summer semester, and for a while, she was my only really good friend. Eventually, I met some of her friends and got to know them more, but she is still the one I’m closest to. Finding friends is still challenging for me, but I hope that things will get better. I’m in a lot better position than I was a few months ago, considering I never thought I would make any friends at some of my lowest points.

Courseload. As far as coursework load, I was surprised. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be; although that also depends on the courses being taken. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have to work hard; I definitely had to! I think I found the workload easier because of my expectations and the fact that I put in a lot of extra time and effort. I also found I had a lot more free time than I had anticipated, even with all the studying I did. In the beginning, all that free time was difficult because it just made me think about home and miss it even more, but eventually I just got used to it.

Finding my path. I thought I would know where I fit in and find my place immediately, but I didn’t. Even now, after the year has been completed, I still don’t really know my path or where I fit. I’m thankful though, that I knew what I wanted to major in before I started, and I know I made the right choice. If I didn’t know my major or if I had to change it, I think it would just make me feel more out of place.

Missing home. Homesickness was one of the most difficult challenges I had during this first year. I called home often in the beginning, but, like other aspects of adjustment, it improved with time.

Math. I accomplished a few things this past year, and the one I am most proud of is that I managed to get an A in math this past semester. I know many people with hydrocephalus struggle with math, so let that be a lesson: never let hydrocephalus get in the way. Anything is possible.

So, the first year was hard. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it and be independent. I did. And eventually things did get a lot better, but I definitely had my struggles and low points. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of handling. Looking back, I haven’t the slightest clue as to how I got through certain things, but the point is, I did. The first year of college is a learning experience, to say the least. It changes you for the better, I think. I also learned a lot about other people. I went into high school knowing so many people, but in college, I knew no one. I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to completely start over. In the end, though, I’m pretty happy I did it. I have met people of many different backgrounds and ages, which I think is awesome.

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1 Comments for : The First Year of College: An Honest Look at My Experience
    • Kris
    • June 9, 2016

    Congratulations, Madeline! It looks like you have adjusted very well to college life and have not let hydrocephalus limit or discourage you from living your life. It helps to have the kind of support and resources that are available through the Association, and the ability to get access to them through the Internet. I wish it had been around when I was growing up, as it would have made the transition to college much easier. Wishing you all the best as you go forward.

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