A look at a beautiful blue sky!
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Nice scenery in Hanover.

First-year fall. What a time. A time of new beginnings, a time to get to know so many new people, a time to completely upend your life, a time to move to the woods and pretty much unlearn everything you knew about life.

First-year fall. Also a time of a lot of anxiety — social anxiety, the anxiety of fitting in, the anxiety of finding the right friends, academic anxiety, anxiety of all kinds. As I stand at the end of my freshman year, here are my thoughts on how it shaped up... and maybe (?) some advice on how to shape yours.

I walked into college with a lot of expectations. I wanted to find the friends that I would know for the rest of my life: you know, the kinds that you see in movies. I wanted to become the best at something, having some kinds of realisations in college that would change my life. When all these things didn't happen on the first day, needless to say I was disappointed.

And that brings me to my first thought about First-year year — college is a marathon, not a sprint. You're not in a constant competition to one-up yourself, or even the others around you that you know. College is a time to figure out stuff, to make real mistakes, to fall down, and then maybe (whenever you want) to get back up.

When you walk in expecting yourself to be "changed," you forget to experience the things that'll actually make you change. These are all thoughts that come with the gift of distance from a situation. That's why I walked away from First-year fall a little confused. I'd had a great time, but not lived the "conventional" college life that I had assumed I would.

That would change — but that's for next week's post. Let's also talk about my academics. Dartmouth … is difficult. That's not going to be a surprise, and most likely: if you've gotten in, it's because you've displayed the academic rigor that this school requires. But the most important thing is — even if you catch yourself slipping up, it is not a measure of your smartness or "how much you deserve to be here." I can't count the number of times I did averagely on midterms and went into spirals — it's never that serious.

The one thing I wish I did academically was explore more. I think I walked in (again, with the college is a race mentality) believing that I had to finish a major and that there was only one end goal. Next year, I expect myself to start diversifying academically, so that I can start really fine-tuning my interests and developing more.

First-year fall, winter, and spring together have been so many things. They've actually made me a very different person from the person I was before I came here. More about why that is in Part 2.

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