College Is Not Like The Movies

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Author: Arshina Remtulla

For as long as I can remember, I romanticized the idea of the typical college experience. The idea of moving out and starting a new, independent life seemed appealing. Especially, to a 10 year old watching Pitch Perfect for the first time. Like most kids, I thought my university experience would be different. I thought it would include: making a million new friends, going out to parties and meeting the love of my life. In reality my experience would include me staying at home my first year because of a global pandemic.
Although, I’d like to think of myself as an optimistic, “glass half full” type of person. I can’t help but feel robbed of the typical college experience due to the pandemic. I never experienced frosh week, never stayed in a dorm room. I’ve only seen the inside of a lecture hall a handful of times despite having two in-person classes.
My first year of university was online and I ended up moving out to my college city for my second year. I intended on making up for “lost time.” Because I still believed in the glorified idea of the “typical college experience”. So far, my university experience included being part of an all girl A Capella group and performing on national television. Something people don’t tell you about moving out for the first time is how lonely it gets. Being homesick is normal and expected. But I never realized how much being away from my family and friends would affect me. I miss out on big milestones and it’s hard being away when my loved ones are going through a hard time.
On top of that, most students are focused on their school work and don’t always have time to hang out. So most of my days are alone, either in my room, kitchen or on campus, where I also do my school work. Eventually, it hit me. Despite what they show on TV, university is lonely. I have 5 roommates and even though we’re friends, we all have our own lives and priorities. Making friends in classes, even if they are in-person, is much harder now. Many young people experiencing social anxiety after being in lockdown for 2 years. I don’t regret moving 4 hours away from home or choosing a university where I knew no one.
I believe to grow, you need to move away from the environment and people you’re comfortable with. But I never thought about the dark side to that decision. I love the friends I’ve made this year. But I can’t help but count the days until summer because I miss the familiarity of my hometown. College is what you make of it. I thought the minute I moved out I would become a party animal and have wild weekends every weekend. But these last 8 months, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I like white wine and would rather spend my weekends hanging out with my roommates, than go to a party. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we’re having fun together.
And I guess that’s what university is all about. It’s not about chasing after some glamourized vision set by the media or doing things that don’t appeal to you, it’s about finding the people you click with and learning new things about yourself. To experiences and fun memories, (whatever your idea of “fun” may be).
There isn’t a handbook (trust me I’ve looked), but that’s what makes it exciting. I would be lying if I said part of me didn’t want that movie college experience because it looks like a lot of fun. But I’m glad I’ve found people who make moving out a little less scary and lonely. Without them I’d be stuck in the library all day.
And I still have 2 years left of my undergrad, who knows what’ll happen by then?
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