We all know what freshman year is like: full of excitement, you say "yes" to everything and you want to be everyone's new BFF. "Studying" doesn't usually mean learning or retaining information, and you spend a whole lot of time wandering around the Haley Center looking for the same classroom you've been sitting in for weeks. (Well, actually I did that last week.)
But there are some very distinct differences I've noticed as three years have flown by. Not only has my appreciation for my education and close friends grown, but so has my knowledge of how to be a pretty functional citizen of society. Here are some things I've learned:
1. Knowledge of your craft is essential
Freshman year you associate going to the library with seeing your friends or that cute boy from your English class, but now, I go to the part of the library where I can be secluded and actually focus on my work. Maybe it's because you're only taking basics in the beginning, but it's amazing to see the desire I have to learn more. I am in classes where I know the information I learn will follow me after graduation, so I have a passion for doing well in my classes instead of trying to live up to my high school GPA.
2. Your friends are you friends.
Yeah, duh, I know. But seriously. In a new place all alone, you try to be everyone's best friend ever, and you forget what you actually look for in a friend. Through trial and error, you eventually figure out the qualities you desire in a friendship. You realize you want to surround yourself with people who share the same ideals as you and who want to invest their valuable time in you. Those are the friends who stay friends.
3. You find your passion.
Everyone tells you freshman year to get involved with anything and everything. You end up making all sorts of connections on campus and begin filling up your college resume, but you also extend yourself past your limits. That's when you start to narrow down your commitments each following year and invest time in growing with a particular organization or two instead of 200.
4. You get to know the surrounding community.
After living in the dorms and being surrounded by college students 24/7, you begin receiving opportunities to meet the people you were intimidated by the first two years of college: your professors, pastors, boss, yoga teacher or whoever else is not another college student just like you. It's easy to slip in and slip out when there are tons of college students around, but as I have gotten older, I have become more invested in my church and the surrounding community. I have connections to people who live in Auburn who offer me home-cooked meals, babysitting jobs, advice on life and more. It's fun to get connected in Auburn University, but it is even more incredible getting connected in Auburn.
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