Hey everyone! Today I have a super special and exciting post: my first official collab!! I’m doing a collab with Abby from Story Eyed. We’re both going into our sophomore year of college, so we decided to put some thoughts of what we’ve learned now that we’ve survived a year of college.
Hi, friends! I’m Abigail Lennah, and I blog over at Story-Eyed. I’m a rising civil engineering sophomore who enjoys writing poetry for theater performances, riding Lime scooters, and playing Red Flags with friends. It’s so exciting to do this collab with Hanne, as both of us are rising sophomores at our respective universities. Today, we’re showering some advice and experiences garnered with the first year under our belts.
Hanne and I have different schooling backgrounds which transformed into the transition period between high school and college. I went to a Montessori school in kindergarten, through the public education system, and now attend a private Jesuit university, whereas Hanne was homeschooled throughout the first thirteen years and attends a public university. We brainstormed a bunch of questions. Hanne’s answers are on my blog, so go on out and read them once you finish this post!
What is something no one told you about going to college?
People say this in passing, but the weight of their words never settled until the first several months past: you grow so much in college. For the first eighteen years of your life, you’re swarmed by the comfort of the people, places, and environment. Then, college strikes, thrusting you into liminality where you’re forced to learn about your identity without familiarity surrounding you. It’s scary because you’re put outside of your comfort zone, but if you stand your ground and open to new opportunities, it will stretch your character in ways you never expected to grow.
What has your biggest struggle been since starting college and how have you overcome it?
My biggest struggle is dedicating time to self-care. Engineering is a time-consuming major. Add in balancing five different external commitments, balancing a social life, and trying to get enough sleep calls in for a grand mixture of intimidating proportions. Any one of my friends could attest: yes, I’m out doing all the things. In some cases, I embody Hamilton’s ability of working non-stop. This contributes ramifications such as burnout and poor mental health. It’s not something I’ve overcome—the chart waxes and wanes—but I’m taking steps to try to make it easier on myself this year.
What was one thing you did outside of school while you were at college?
I overcommitted to engaging in different activities, from joining a sustainability leadership group advocating energy reduction education to weekly volunteering at local elementary schools! I spent lots of my time in engineering and writing clubs who helped construct my perceptions on both subjects, but the biggest club I’ve been apart of is the Filipino-American Student Union. Surprisingly, this wasn’t a club I entertained joining when first arriving on campus—I went to the first meeting due to mutual friends dragging me along. I didn’t realize how much I would love learning about my cultural identity until many event planning and Tuesday nights later! Now, I’m one of the festival coordinators for the upcoming school year.
What do you do when you’re procrastinated until the last possible second? Do you give something up, and do one thing well? Do you do two things haphazardly? What goes through your head then?
I seldom procrastinate.(note from Hanne: cannot relate) Putting things off rattles my anxiety to high gear, but when procrastination does happen, it’s usually during group projects due the following day. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in groups with more subdued and calm personalities to balance my franticness. Sometimes, this means spending ten minutes during break laying on the floor listening to reggae. It may also mean listening to choral music at 2:30 in the morning. Usually the work gets balanced out well and we complete it with some hours of sleeping to spare but does become a panic fest for some time.
How has college caused you to readapt your schedule, in comparison to high school?
You have autonomy on how you spend your time. This can be a strange power to wield, especially if much of your time was dictated by an external force. There are over a thousand minutes in a day, and you get to decide what to do. If you want to watch a discounted movie Tuesday morning because your sole class got cancelled, go ahead! If you want to stay in over the weekend instead of going out, that’s fine too. It’s strange to wield what you do in your time, but you are your own self-advocate and dedicate your time however you want.
As a STEM major, how do you balance & partake in activities outside your major?
I’m a civil engineering student who’s crazy about creating sustainable infrastructure in cities, especially moving forward when climate change and our contributions towards it is a big deal. Some of the activities I take part in—such as joining a women’s engineering club and a sustainability leadership program—reflect that. Yet, I’m also a writer, creator, and hot chocolate consumer, too! They’re important identities, and it’s important to give time to nurture them. I try to dedicate at least two hours to other non-STEM related activities, such as writing poetry for theater performances! It also helps give a breath of fresh air, especially when Newtons stress you out.
Time management is a big thing, and in college you’re given independent over what to do. How do you manage your time to have a balance of a healthy, social, & academic life?
The number one tip to balancing everything without falling apart is understanding how much time you have and what your abilities are. Is there truth about choosing only two from the triangle featuring school, social life, or sleep? To some degree. (For me, DEFINITELY sleep.) I’m still able to accomplish a lot because I try not to waste time, knowing the demands of my major. It also comes down to priorities. Sometimes, you can combine aspects together, like group studying, the ultimate combo of socializing and school. But you also need to fulfill your own needs, and if studying by yourself needs to happen, then let it happen. Be honest with what you can fulfill, and don’t take on too much.
College can sometimes be a place to meet new people—discuss how you morphed into the new environment.
The people I met throughout college made the transition smoother than I perceived it. I spent the first several weeks entrapped in my dorm room, gorging on KIND bars and not talking to anyone. It was scary because one, it was a new environment, and two, my senior roommate already had a preestablished group, so I didn’t come in with a buddy. I felt a bit lonely, something which I didn’t shy away from mentioning to others. Spending time in the common room helped, though. It’s funny, because my interactions with my closest friends initiated with me being the enthusiastic outgoing one when the reality of our personalities is quite the opposite. The friends I made aren’t a coherent group, and sometimes, not being in a group is sometimes sad. You don’t have a connection or comradery to be nestled in a comforting bubble. Despite this, I still spend lots of time with them and they bring out the best parts, encouraging exploration, self-care, and a positive outlook on the future.