Starting at a new place is never easy and it typically comes with a mixture of excitement and a bit of dread. Starting college is no different. Surely you must orient yourself on the basics, find your way around new places, and figure out how to navigate a whole new environment full of new and unknown faces. The exciting part of the experience however, has some unique characteristics worth noting!

Your new college experience is shaped by the combination of some very unique circumstances! It is likely to be your first time away from home, you are probably there because you want to and not because you have to, you are there to study something you actually want to study, and you are there to prepare to do what you want out of your life. Moreover, you are no longer treated as a child by some, you have more freedom than you ever had before, and for a brief period of time you are part of a group of people just like you in the absence of too many social preconceived notions, social circles, lifelong friends and all the other barriers to making friends with just about anyone! You are all together on the same boat! Nobody knows anyone else, everyone is new and everyone wants to fit in. You are likely to never have such an opportunity again to make friends and acquaintances at every turn!

Since college is the place where most of us mature at a totally different level compared to high school, the friendships we forge there are likely to be with people much more compatible with our adult personalities. How many times have you been shocked to find how much your high school classmates have changed when you catch up with them at a reunion? Most of us “define” our mature selves in college. In other words, the friends you make there are likely to be your life-long friends!

As for ‘defining yourself’, all you need to do is remain open-minded and suspend your preconceived notions you might have another people unlike yourself. Of course, remain steadfast to your core values and principles, especially because they may get tested! So college is also a time to fine-tune your beliefs, have lively discussions with others and broaden one another’s perspectives about the world. But hold your judgment of others since there is something valuable for you to learn from every person you meet. It’s up to you to spot the lesson in the encounter.

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