Advice from a girl who is one year out of college to students who are entering college this year:

*Nostalgia hits hard…

I absolutely loved college. It was hands down the best four years of my (22 year old) life. I gained friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I learned so much more than I ever thought I would. I traveled to different countries and became friends with people from all over the world. I cried, I laughed, I prayed, I struggled and leaned on those who trusted to lean on me. I gained confidence and learned to not care about what others think. I fell in love and grew closer to Christ (even though I thought I was already as close as I could have been). There are a few things that I want to share with those who began their college experience this year, and here they are…

 

-Get involved as much as you can

but don’t overwhelm yourself.

College isn’t only about the classes you take and the lessons you learn. It’s about the experiences you live and the challenges you face.

As a girl who feel in love with ministry as a high schooler, I knew I wanted to get involved with campus ministry at UIW. So, what did I do? I got a job with University Mission and Ministry, became a peer minister my second semester, started my own ministry my sophomore year, was a secretary and president of Catholic Daughters of the Americas sophomore and junior year, was a media minister junior year, DJ for the radio station playing Christian music junior year, a retreat director junior year… anything else any of my friends can remember for me? Oh yeah and I took three 18-hour semesters on top of that. (Can’t forget school haha.)

Yeah, it was a lot. I loved every single thing I did. I slept about 4 hours a day my junior year and had a lot a lot of pimples on my face. Everyone kept telling me that I was doing too much, but I just couldn’t turn down all of the amazing opportunities that kept coming my way. Everything was perfect and I learned a lot with all of my experiences. But just a little bit of advice, learn to say no early on, or else you will sleep 2-4 hours a night and have a lot of pimples.

 

-Don’t go looking for love—love will find you 

Be you. You are beautiful. Keep being the person you are. Find a niche that fits you and stick to it. Don’t change your personality to fit into a certain group that you want to be a part of. Trust me, people will cling to you if you are yourself!

Remember that God is the reason you have the amazing opportunity to go to college and get an education in the first place, so find Him first if you haven’t already done so. Fall in love with Him first, and he will find you your perfect partner 🙂

My post 3 Steps to Find the Perfect Guy is a post that was inspired by my true love story. It was written for my magazine article writing class I took during the time Edwin and I started dating. (That was the best part of my junior year, meeting Edwin :)) Everything I say in there is exactly how I found my soulmate. Just be you.

 

-Be a good student

There is nothing more annoying to teachers (I am a college professor now, so I totally understand this) and fellow classmates than a student who always shows up to class late and sits in the back doing nothing but updating their Twitter feed. Don’t be that annoying student who obviously isn’t there to learn, and is only there for the title of having a degree.

College is more than a degree. It’s about gaining knowledge and learning to better yourself for the future. If you don’t pay attention in class, if you don’t attend class, how are you going to actually gain that knowledge?

 

-Be with people that make you happy

Find friends that share the same interests as you. Don’t be friends with people who tear you down, who make fun of your beliefs, or don’t give you the respect you deserve. A friendship should be 100/100; meaning what you give into the friendship, your friend should do the same. Don’t give more and get less.

I learned that the hard way. Of course during my hardest and most stressful year (junior year). But I didn’t lose myself during that time. I stayed true to myself and just started hanging out less with those people. They are still my friends, but I put my heart more into friendships who valued me more. I hope you are able to do the same. Be a good friend!

 

-Make friends and hang out with the international students

This was literally the best decision of my college career. I mean, of course, that’s where I found my husband! Haha! But I didn’t go looking for one there… I genuinely enjoyed befriending the students from different countries, learning about their cultures, helping them with their English and experiencing a different place in the world right from my university in Texas.

The international students are the easiest people to talk to. They are interested in our culture and want to learn more, so just take the time to meet them. They want to be friends with the domestic students, that is one reason they come to your university in the first place—to be fully engulfed in the culture and make American friends. My advice, don’t be scared to go up to them and introduce yourself! My beautiful roommate of two years, Irène Tombo, was the queen of going up to international students and just talking to them. Even though Irène is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, she had been living in Texas for almost 5 years and was a domestic student. She helped me gained that confidence to talk to the students from different countries.

Every year Irène and I would move back into the dorms a week earlier than everyone else because of our ministry training. The international students moved early as well, and one late night after our training, we saw a group of new international students from Mexico in the lobby of my dorm. It took us about 10 minutes to gain the courage to go up and talk to them, but when we finally overcame our fear and kindly introduced ourselves. We ended up talking to them for about 5 hours! Maybe I am exaggerating, but my Mexican friends who are involved can help me specify the time. I hope they are reading this because we are all still friends to this day! Thank y’all for allowing us to intrude, but we are so happy we did! I still an in contact with a lot of my friends who studied abroad at UIW 🙂

And got married to one. 😉

 

-Study abroad

I was going to call this one, “Try your hardest to study abroad,” but just simply: Study Abroad! It was literally the best decision of my college career. Yes, I know I said on the previous one, but they are equally the best decision I made. They go hand in hand, because when I studied abroad I met up with four of the people I had met at UIW who were international students. Julia from Germany, Brian and Weis from the Netherlands, and Tom from the Czech Republic. They so kindly opened their homes and cities to me when I visited them during my time studying abroad in Italy. Not only did I get to see their countries and experience their cultures, I got to see them again! Which was the coolest thing ever.

My time in Rome, Italy is still so very fresh in my mind. Most people go during their second and third year in college, but I went during my senior year. I spent my first three years doing all of my hard classes, experiencing my university and learning the life in San Antonio. And left my easy elective classes for my last year, therefore I could take as little classes as possible in Rome and have more time to travel and live in Rome as a local—and not be too busy as a student.

Not only do you gain the classes towards graduation, you also gain an experience of a lifetime. You are completely independent and learn different life experiences faster than a student who doesn’t study abroad. You gain knowledge of the world and geography. You see how people of different cultures live and you make friends with people from all over. Not to mention, you have some pretty cool stories to share with people for the rest of your life.

All of my roommates were from different states and different countries. We still keep in touch and share our lives with each other. Studying abroad is one thing I will encourage every college student I come across, so just do it!

 

 -Volunteer

Don’t forget to serve the community around you. If volunteering isn’t something you are familiar with, start now. Gather a group of friends and find an organization that needs help on a Saturday morning. Or during the week in a morning or afternoon when you don’t have any classes or work. Give a little bit of your time and energy to people who need it most. My university required we had 45 hours of community service enable for us to graduate, so lucky for me I had many different opportunities to volunteer. My favorite was always doing something at the nursing home. The community at the nursing home loves seeing young faces. Try that if you haven’t done so already.

Another favorite volunteer experience I was a part of was the CDA soccer tournament that Catholic Daughters put together. A percentage of our funds went to the Battered Women’s Shelter in San Antonio.  Luckily, UIW was BIG into soccer, so we had a lot of players wanting to participate.

Don’t forget about volunteering when you study abroad! There is nothing more cool than volunteering in the community that is hosting you for 4-9 months. I volunteered with neighborhood clean-up and a children’s Halloween event in Rome hosted by my university.

 

-Live in the moment

and make good choices.

This one is so so so important. As you get older, the time goes faster and faster. Don’t let these moments during college slip right in front of you. Live them. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about yesterday. Enjoy the moment you are living right now because that moment will be over tomorrow!

The first time in my life where I actually lived in the moment was during the two weeks Edwin came to Rome during my study abroad semester. Those two weeks are still so fresh to me because I lived in the moment. Nothing was stopping me from experiencing the life I was living with Edwin in Rome!

But you don’t have to have my same experience to live in the moment. Every moment you have is a gift from God, so live it and enjoy it. As a young college student, I know it is hard to do this, but just try it and see how it works for you! I promise it will be rewarding.

 

I hope this post helps you to live your college experience to the fullest! Trust me, it will fly by like a bird in the sky.

 

Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night.

~Job 20:8

 

befunky-collage

 

*Please contact me with any questions or need advice, I will be happy to help! I will also be happy to hear about your college experience as well. Chat with me!

Thanks for reading and God bless,

Darlene

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