The One Thing I Wish I Had Known Before…
The Summer of 2011 was a little different to any other, as I was waiting in anticipation for August to arrive. August was the month that I would essentially discover the path that I would be venturing down, as my college acceptance form was due in.
I spent the Summer in utter excitement as I listened to my elders describe how lucky I was to be heading off to new and brighter things.
When the day arrived and my fate was on a computer screen, I immediately felt amazed and relieved as my first choice appeared on the page. Due to my complete excitement and the encouraging words around me I immediately clicked the acceptance button.
After a long summer of expectations, eagerness and probability, the evening of the 23rd of September arrived. This day was also a little different than any other evening, as I was moving away from home to venture into my new life as a college student.
The one thing I wish I had known before that evening, was to ensure I was both mentally and emotionally prepared for what essentially was the biggest stepping stone I was about to face in my life. Due to people expressing how lucky I was and the word ‘freedom’ figuratively written on my forehead I naturally forgot about the leap I was actually going to be faced with.
I woke up early that morning, feeling nervous but excited. Waking up early was another shock to my system after the long late summer mornings I was just after settling into.
Obviously, I followed the old cliché of packing everything apart from the kitchen sink, after all I would not be home until the coming Friday, when everything would be packed up and brought back home again.
Then the call came to get myself ready for the car journey that I was now beginning to fear. I could sense the worry and anxieties my parents were feeling but trying not to show as they were bringing their first child off to live away from home.
The one thing I wish I had known before was that this experience was nearly as daunting for them as it was for me: after all, the unknown is a frightening tool.
As we reached the house that I was now going to call home for my first college year, we all took a deep breath. I entered the house as if I was entering a new world where I felt I knew nobody. My parents followed closely behind me for support.
The environment that we were now in was completely different to the one I was accustomed to at home.
I was greeted by two boys and two girls who were going to be my housemates for the college year. In order to let me settle, my parents reluctantly said their goodbyes and they were gone.
I was now essentially an ‘ADULT’. No parents to wake me up in the morning for college, no parents to make sure I go to bed early or to ensure I don’t stay out too late at night. The nerves began to settle as I realised this was great.
The one thing I wish I had known before was how hard it was to prepare edible food and edible being the main word.
This was my first taste of college life.
My second taste of college life was a bittersweet moment as I looked at my recent phone call data and my missed call calculus was begining to tally up as my parents were constantly ringing. They had now realised that they missed me hanging around like a bad smell falling over their feet. At this moment I did not know whether this was a weird loving compliment or an indirect insult.
Instead I realised all they needed was to hear positive things about my new life and listen to my new eventful stories, to help them come to terms with what is essentially an experience for them also.
The one thing I wish I had known before was that this was a stepping stone in their lives as they waved goodbye to their now independant daughter.
My next step was to enter into the academic sector of my new adventure.
After reaching college, I found out from the front office that I was enrolled in my first class in John England hall. When I eventually found my class, without even having a glance at the entire class I quickly grabbed the nearest seat to where I was standing.
This was now a far more daunting experience than meeting my housemates because essentially I was on my own. I thought of calling a few friends from home before class began, to break the anxieties I was feeling as I looked around the room at everyone in their cliques.
I felt really awkard sitting in class on my own simply doing nothing.
A few minutes later, a girl sat down beside me. She was in the same boat as me. This helped the nerves to fade slightly as I was no longer ‘alone’.
I was happy with my first day in college as I now had somebody to sit beside the following day. Although first days are meant to be something special, there was nothing so special about my first day.
On second thoughts, I can say that my house-warming experience was a lot more pleasant than my first day as a college student.
I am now aware that there is no magic formula to settling into college apart from focusing on essentially preparing oneself for all emotional features rather than concentrating solely on the excitement and freedom aspect of college life.
The one thing I wish I had known before was that the element and the satisfaction of freedom soon wears off as reality and realistion kicks in as ‘home’ seems like a far far away land.
I am now in my third year of college studying for a BA in Applied Social Studies in Social Care. I have made many good friends in college and am enjoying all aspects of being a student living away from home.
Written by Beth Bergin, Student Placement with Naas Youth Information Centre