by AARON MEGAR
As I come to the end of my freshman year of college, I’ve begun to reflect on my first two semesters, thinking about where I once was and where I am today. My dorm room is the same; empty beer cans and piles of clothes lining the floor. But everything outside of that room has changed drastically. In the past seven months, I’ve gained and lost more acquaintances than I could possibly name, formed more habits and routines than I’ve ever had in my life, and most importantly, I have come to learn that the University of Maryland is, at least for seven months per year, my new world. My new ecosystem, my new society, and my new home. This, I believe, is the single most important mindset that one has to have when they come to college; this is your life right now, so you must embrace it entirely and not waste time thinking about home.
High school seniors dream about college, especially if they’re going to a school like UMD, where we clearly know how to have fun. There are few things I have ever been more anxious and excited for than driving down to this school on that hot day in late August and beginning my life as a freshman Terp. UMD is what one would call my “dream school,” and as much as I missed my life at home, I knew Maryland was going to be really sick.
And it was really sick, right from the start. The campus, the academics and the social life were all exactly what I had imagined. But for a while, something small was missing. It wasn’t that I was in any less contact with my friends in Massachusetts than I am today, but my life at home was still what I’m going to call my “primary life” at the time. It wasn’t that I felt held back, nor did I feel like I had any obligation to satisfy any expectations from my high school life. But what I called “my school” was in fact Needham High School, and whom I called “my friends” were in fact my boys from home.
I don’t know where or when it changed, but I eventually came to the realization that being at the University of Maryland – my life in Centreville Hall and everywhere around it – was and is my “primary life.” What does that mean? It means that my mind wasn’t on summer, winter or spring break, it was in the moment and the couple moments that would follow while I was at school with my friends. It means that my high school grades no longer mattered. It was about becoming an active journalist on campus, reporting men’s lacrosse games, Art Attack, and other events. Getting involved and engaged in what is now your “primary life” as early as you can is, I think, the most beneficial thing you can do at the beginning of your freshman year.
This conclusion may not necessarily materialize in your daily life, but it has a powerful impact on your mindset and the way you’ll experience college. It did for me, at least. Never lose touch with home, never lose touch with your high school friends, but make college your “primary life” the second you step on campus on your hot August day.