To most newly graduated high school students, college is unrealistically envisioned. The thought of independence and living more than a few doors away from primary caretakers sound appealing… at first – until the responsibilities hit at full force (just so you know, first year residences have resident advisors, so you’re not fully free just yet). This hits even harder with us Bangkok kids who are used to having house-help. Life’s easy when you come home to a freshly prepared meal, folded laundry, and a made bed. Adapting can be challenging and may take time, but it will happen; take it from me, a rising senior (and Ruamrudee International School grad).
First year is the adjustment year and here’re a few tips:
1. Join clubs and get involved
But don’t join a club for the sake of it. It is easy to write your name on a piece of paper and not show up. Find a club or two that you are interested in and follow through with them. It will help you make friends, build connections, meet seniors, and allow you to explore your interests. Moreover, it looks great on that resume you’re about to start building!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
All colleges/universities have incredible support programs whether it may be in regards to wellness counselling, jobs, class scheduling, tutoring, or other difficulties that may arise. Use these facilities as they will one-hundred percent benefit you. If your friends are not keen on using such facilities, that is okay. In college you will learn that the saying, “to each their own,” goes a long way. It does not mean that you are lost or falling behind. With time, all students eventually use such facilities.
Personal anecdote: When I was in first year, structuring a resume was foreign and seemed impossible. Reaching out to my siblings and parents proved helpful, but not helpful enough. I decided to go to see an advisor, who sat down and thoroughly read through each sentence proving advice, tips, and corrections. In the span of two weeks, I found myself at the advisor’s office 5 times (obsessive, i know)!
3. Shuffling is normal
Orientation week is filled with socializing and you’ll find yourself making many friends. With time, such circles may change and that’s okay – do not be alarmed. College is about figuring out who you are and who you may or may not be compatible with. This is part of the fun! You’ll learn more about yourself, what different people bring to the table, and how to interact with different types of people. You’ll also learn to understand and accept people more for who they are.
Side Tip: Always be kind.
4. Time management – use a technique that works for you!
Always remember your priorities. In the next four years the famous friends-study-gym triangle comes to life. How is it possible to manage all or pick between the three? They’re all SO important. If it feels as if everything you want to do in the day does not fit, that’s okay. There will be days where you’ll have to give up fun for work or work for fun (sorry, parents). The best way to do everything you want to do is to make a realistic schedule and stand by it. A routine that works for you. Perhaps even find an encouraging friend that can help you work to meet all your goals for the day.
5. Don’t be overambitious when registering for first year courses
Make sure you keep your grades up. This is an adjustment year which means many things will be taking place emotionally, mentally, and physically aside from the stress of school. There’s no need to rush into second or third year classes unless necessary. Take classes you have interests in and keep an eye on your percentage!
6. Remember – it’s okay to feel homesick
Find that Krapao or Phad Thai and eat it. Facetime/Skype your parents, siblings, and friends from home. Share your feelings with your friends. Watch a comforting movie. This is a completely normal feeling! Homesickness dissipates with each semester in college, so don’t you worry about it.
7. And winter is coming…
This is the time of the year where grey replaces all, and home feels so close yet so far away. Keep warm, exercise, and eat vitamin D pills to refrain from feeling the symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder! Socialize and do not hibernate. Keep your spirits up!
8. One last thing: laundry
Last and definately the least favourite, laundry. One simple word but oh so many problems. I suggest learning how to use the washer and dryer before college (because I found that much of my whites were turning colourful) or paying close attention to YouTube instructions. It is also important to fold and store clothes into neat, organized piles. College dorms are small! Storage space is little, so managing laundry before it piles up goes a long way.