How I Realized College Isn’t Summer Camp

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One suitcase, two boxes, my shiny new Keurig and I officially left high school behind for the most anticipated day of the summer: college move-in. Nervous freshmen lined the streets anxiously searching for the check-in table. I stood among them brimming with excitement. After checking in, I excitedly searched for my new home.

I swung my dorm door open to what I thought would be an absolute haven, but what actually looked like hell.

Instead of finding an Insta-worthy room fit for my preplanned caption, “MTV WELCOME TO MY CRIB,” the space greeted me with a poorly-lit shoebox in need of fumigation.

Alright...I can still make do. The decorating committee (a.k.a. my mom and I) got right to work making sure I felt as at home as possible.

My emotions bounced around all day. As we finished our seafood dinner at a nearby off-campus restaurant my family and I laughed and cried at different memories and pondered what my future held. Then the time came for them to leave me for my first night alone. I officially became a college student.

While getting to know the three strangers my university forced me to live with, a feeling of awkwardness fell over us. After hopping into bed just a foot away from my new roommate’s, I fell asleep worrying slightly she would snore.

I woke up at 2 a.m. and, boy, did I feel funny. I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped the light on. Wait, I turned it on, right? A crushing darkness still filled the room and everything spun. Confusion rattled my mind. Without a clue to why I felt so strange, I threw up.

Turns out, my first college blackout wouldn’t be a funny memory to look back on with friends. Instead, it resulted from a bad case of food poisoning. That morning I struggled to get out of bed for my first day of classes. I had never felt more miserable, so I opted to curl up under the covers all day. To top it off, my roomies busied themselves with sorority rush week and barely had time to bond with me over this unfortunate turn of events.

“College sucks” repeatedly ran through my head. After a long nap, I opened my computer to multiple emails from my school saying they dropped me from ALL of my Monday classes.  What?! My heart didn’t just drop—it stopped beating for a minute.

Apparently, big universities require students to show up to class on the first day. Otherwise, the university drops you like you’re hot so fast Snoop Dogg would be proud.

I gave up. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so sick. My room felt tiny compared to my space back home. My roommates were complete strangers. Above all, I wanted my mom.

Immediately I began making plans for when I could go home. I kept desperately calling my mom. Why don’t parents ever answer when we call them? When she finally picked up she chuckled at my hysteria.

“Honey, you’re not at summer camp. I can’t just come pick you up when it gets a little hard,” she said.

The realization hit me. Yes, in some ways college looks just like my Keurig. Everything seems shiny and new, but all the transitioning and adjusting doesn’t come easy. College can feel dark and scary. Sometimes, your head feels like it will never stop spinning because the newness gets so overwhelming. I don’t recognize a single thing or person here. I have never studied more in my life. I refuse to eat more of the same bland foods at the dining hall. And honestly, dorm life blows.

But the opportunity to experience new things makes the difficult parts of college worth it. College gave me great opportunities to pursue my passions like writing and media that my high school didn’t have. It introduced me to some of my now forever friends. Plus, tell me one thing more LIT than college football season.

I may still need a little more time to fully make campus my home, but who doesn’t? I’m slowly turning this summer camp into the best four years of my life.

Julia is a Freshman at Florida State University studying Communications Media with a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she aspires to be a successful broadcast journalist traveling the world with her Australian Sheperd puppy.

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