Oh man, college move-in. Probably my favorite time of year.

This is back-to-school for big kids, and even though I’ve been out of school for a while now, I still love feeling a part of it. From cruising the college aisles at Target to watching all of the dorm move-in vlogs on Youtube, I love feeling the excitement of everyone as they begin their college adventures.

Instagram, Tumblr, and Youtube didn’t really exist when I was about to be a Freshman at University, so I was on my own as far as decorating my dorm was concerned. My lovely roommate was from New Jersey, and I only met her once before we moved in together. I don’t know that either one of us was super concerned about having a matching theme to our dorm room. We were more worried about how to get that TV (not a flatscreen and it still had a video player) up on the lofted storage area so that we could watch Gilmore Girls, Laguna Beach, and Friends reruns.

At the time this California girl was still in a surf phase, so my decor consisted of a signed Kelly Slater poster and tiki-print sheets from Target that I thought were sooooo cool (and in hindsight just make me cringe). And photos-lots and lots of photos of my friends. While no photographic evidence of this dorm room remains, this is probably what today’s (much more stylish) equivalent would be:

University was the most amazing time! It was so cool to be able to hang out with friends at the student center drinking coffee in between class, or have a group of friends just hanging out in my dorm room until 3 in the morning. That definitely doesn’t happen once you’re an adult in the real world.

There are things I would do over, like spend less time worrying about everything and more time experiencing college life, and things that I am so, so glad I never did, like get blackout drunk and vomit. My college experience was absolutely life-changing. Most of all I miss being in an environment that is dedicated to learning. It might be Hermione Granger-esque of me, but what I wouldn’t give to be able to go back to a time and place where my main responsibility was spending time in the library studying.

Not my University’s library, though the SCU library is no-less stunning. This is my dream library, The Bodlein at Oxford

You can find a million tips online for how to decorate a dorm room on a budget, but here are 5 things no one else will tell you about college:

Friends are everywhere. What I definitely took for granted in college is how easy it was to meet people. Whether in class, at parties, or as part of intramural sports, it seemed like I made friends without any effort. As an adult, the built-in networking arenas don’t exist in the same way, so true friendships are harder to find and require a lot more idle small talk. The same can be said for dating.

Don’t be afraid to explore. I went to school 20 minutes from home, but I wish I had gone further. I loved my University and I loved being able to go home when I needed a break from it all. But I sometimes wonder what amazing things I would have discovered if I wasn’t at school somewhere that was already so familiar to me. Maybe I would have been more adventurous and discovered something new.

Professors are unexpectedly cool. While I cringed whenever I thought about my high school teachers having lives outside the classroom, I always thought it was so cool to run into my profs at the local dive bar or at a concert. My professors had such interesting stories and life experiences that they shared with us in the context of what we were learning. Some of their quotes are still ones that I think about today.

Be active. Be a joiner. Do things your high school self would never get caught doing, whether its going to a school basketball game or taking a ballet class as one of your electives. Sometimes the things you think are so “not you” end up being the most memorable experiences, and at the very least make for some good stories. Don’t be content with doing the same old thing.

Love every moment. College is such a unique time where you are on your own but essentially living in a bubble. You will learn so much, fall in love, and have your heart broken. But savor every moment. You will never have more energy and be able to do more with this little sleep. You will never have such an easy excuse to talk to that cute guy who sits in front of you in class. You will never feel so okay with doing the walk of shame directly to the caf to get waffles on Sunday morning. Whatever you choose to do in college, do it right. Because while you may experience being a student again, you will never be a college freshman again.

 

And that is an experience of a lifetime.