As I count down the weekends I have left in college, I can’t help but reflect on the past four crazy years. I am very happy with and proud of many decisions I’ve made here at Winona State, but, of course, there are other choices that have not served me so well.
I’m a firm believer that everyone has to make and learn from their own mistakes, but I hope someone out there can learn a little something from my journey. There are plenty of ups and down in your college years and I hope the good always out-weighs the not-so-good.
Without a doubt, this has been the best decision, possibly of my whole life. Am I being dramatic? Maybe, but probably not– the experience really was amazing. Studying in Granada, Spain for 5 months of my junior year changed how I look at the world and myself. It’s taught me more about the world, my own country and most importantly, myself. I have become a huge advocate of all students studying abroad and can’t imagine my life if I hadn’t of taken the chance to do so. I only wish I had been able to spend a full year abroad.
Plaza de España, Seville, Spain
The other best decision of my college career was getting a job that has given me meaningful experience and opened my eyes to future careers. I work in the Web Communications office working on WSU’s website and social media and I absolutely love it. I’ve learned so much and now I am headed into the workforce with real-world experience and a sense of which field I would like to enter. Don’t get me wrong, academics are very important but my job experience is just as valuable to me as my grades.
Coming to college with my high school best friend
That seems like a dream come true, right? Umm no. Story time: Now, we didn’t choose Winona State because the other did. We both independently made the decision to come here but things didn’t unfold as ideally as I had hoped. Freshman year, we spent way too much time together and I didn’t branch out as much as one should. I didn’t make too many new, close friends and spent a lot of time with her friends.
Fast forward to junior year and this friend and I had a big falling out (big as in 15 months later, I have yet to speak to her). I knew it was time to move on from this friendship but it also meant moving on from many of the other friends I had made and I was left feeling lonely and isolated. It took a lot of resolve to start over with a clean slate but I because I did, I met amazing friends who mean the world to me. If only I had done that my first year.
The Lessons Learned
If you already know some people when you arrive on campus that first day, great! Stay in touch with them but don’t depend on them. Don’t stop reaching out to new people because you never know who could end up becoming an irreplaceable friend.
I was terrified of studying abroad. I almost started crying in the airport because I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I didn’t let that stop me. I took a risk and it paid off big time. You can take risks everyday that can lead to amazing opportunities. Introduce yourself to that interesting person in your ENG 111 class. Go to a club meeting even though you don’t know anyone. Apply for a big internship even though you might not get. Remember: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.