Turning 19, Finishing my First Semester at a University, and More Life Changes

Ya’ll! It has been far too long since I’ve properly sat down updated / spent time on this blog in general. Finals are over (hallelujah) and it’s officially winter break. I’m going to try to rapid fire catch ya’ll up on everything.

Back on November 17th, I turned 19! It feels really weird to say I’m nineteen, as it sounds both far too old and too young at the same time. My birthday was on a Saturday, so I went home for the weekend and celebrated with my family. My older sister couldn’t come that weekend, so she came the weekend before to my apartment and we had a lot of fun hanging out. She lives four hours away from me, so I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like. We went to a queer coffee shop in the city my university is in and played Drag Queen Bingo, which was really fun!

School has been a whirlwind. I can’t believe this semester is already over. As a whole, I had a pretty good semester. I took Biology II with lab, chemistry I with lab, and Spanish II, which totaled to 13 hours.  Chemistry was HARD! Since I didn’t really go to high school, I practically didn’t take chemistry, so everything was new to me. However, even all the other students who had taken chemistry previously also struggled; I guess it’s considered a “weed out” class for a reason. I managed to pull out an A, but there were definitely times that it felt like I was holding onto that A by a thread. I’ve never studied so much in my life for one class, but I feel very proud that I was able to do it. I’m very pleased I was able to keep my 4.0 this semester!

After many conversations and months of internal conflict with my college major choice, I’ve decided to change my major to nursing. I think the nursing approach better envelops my ultimate goal of taking care of chronically ill patients and being their advocate, than the general approach of being a doctor does. I do however still want to be in a provider role, and plan on getting my masters to become a nurse practitioner later down the road. It took me a long time to get to this conclusion, but I’m really excited about it. Realistically I knew Med School would never work out anyway with my health issues, but I didn’t feel peace about letting go of that dream until recently. The only downside is that my university does not have a nursing program, so I have two options: 1. finish my prerequisites at my current school and then apply directly to nursing school for Fall 2020, 2. transfer next fall to a school that has a nursing program to finish my pre-reqs there and then go to that universities nursing school afterwards. I am planning on re-applying to my dream school because they have the best nursing program in the state, and if I don’t get in then I’ll just finish up at my current school.

I’m a little bit sad about the possibility of me leaving my current university. Although this semester has been tough, I do really like the school. On the other hand, the school I’m applying to has been my dream school for so long and it’s in the city I’ve always wanted to live in. I have not made the friends I was hoping to this semester, so the idea of starting all over again is both intriguing and terrifying. I’m really hoping I make some friends next semester, as I’ve been incredibly lonely.

Overall I am really grateful for this semester, and everything it has taught me. Thank you for sticking with me, even with the lack of posts these last few months. I’m hoping to be able to post more in 2019. How has your life been? If you are in school, how did your semester go?

I hope you all have / have had a very happy holiday season!

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Advice for College Freshman

Since my first semester of college just ended, I thought I would share some of the things I learned. For reference I go to a local community college, I’m a biology major, and I got a 4.0 my first semester:

  1. It’s literally just lecturing most of the time

Maybe this is because I only look core classes my first semester (history 1301, biology 1406, english 1301, and math 1314), but all we ever did was lecture and test. In high school you do a lot of busy work and activities, but there is no free time or “fun” days in college. The only class that broke this rule was my English class, where we did a lot of group discussion.

2. Give yourself time in-between some of your classes

Monday, Wednesday, Friday I had History from 10:00-10:50, and then my next class, Algebra, wasn’t until 12:00-12:50. I used the hour in between them to study and do homework, and it was so helpful! It was a designated hour to just work, and it really helped me stay on top of everything. It can be difficult to work at home, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of staying after class to work, so making your schedule with breaks in between is ideal.

3. Take good notes

This sounds like a no-brainer, but honestly it’s so important. I basically spent the entire semester trying to figure out what note-taking strategy worked best for me. I would recommend doing hand written notes if you’re able to, because I definitely retain more info when I write something verses when I type it. I also really like the strategy of condensing your notes down to key information that you’re still working on learning before a test or major quiz. It’s much more effective to study the most important/most difficult information alone, than it is to study everything your Professor lectured over.

4. Take advantage of your resources

This is something I wish I would have done more of. At my college, we have a writing center, and free math tutors which I never used, but should have. Having free resources is something you will probably never get again after college, so take advantage of them! Also, if you have a disability like me, sign up for disability services. They may not be able to completely accommodate you, depending on your needs, but in my case they were super accommodating and happy to help.

5. Do Practice Quizzes/Tests

Taking practice quizzes and tests online is the main thing I used to study. Just reading and highlighting your notes if often not enough. My biology textbook came with a code for online study materials, which is what I used to practice. I like practice tests because you not only need to know the information for your exams, but you also have to know how to apply it.

 

These were the most important things I took away from my first semester in college, academically speaking. Are you in college? What are your tips for college freshman / college students in general?

Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa