Simone Mansell / Daily Nexus

This article continues a three-part retrospective about the freshman experience. Read parts one and two here. Check out this Spotify playlist to enhance your reading experience.

It would be so easy for me to say that during spring quarter of freshman year, my life satisfaction exponentially grew, and my struggles in fall and winter meant something because I’m finally — 

I can’t even finish that sentence without cracking up. Metaphorically, of course. 

The truth isn’t too far off. I’m taking things as they come, or at least trying to, which is such a cliché, end-of-a-series thing to do — but it’s the truth. I needed to accept that the picture of happiness that I aspired to wasn’t ideal, or actually attainable. Previously, my definition of happiness was a consistent state of bliss, no bad news or bad grades or bad things ever interrupting it. But that wasn’t reality, it was just some utopic fantasy I had concocted in my head.

It’s spring 2022. I’m extremely interested in the communication classes I’m taking, particularly “Theories of Communication.” The material is incredibly interesting to me, and I find myself never feeling bored at lectures. 

I go to L.A. and see my friend again. We both lost our matching jackets. I eat focaccia and we catch up. After I get back to I.V., I have a COVID-19 scare and cry about it, but I end up testing negative. 

I watch my friend’s acapella concert and nod my head along to all the songs, even the ones I don’t recognize. 

My “A Case Study for the Ages: Passion v. Profit” article runs in print (with amazing art, once again) and I hog six copies to take back home. My mom playfully scolds me because I only really need one. 

After stressing all day, I receive an email congratulating me on being the new assistant opinion editor (now editor), and my friends take me out for ice cream to celebrate. 

Soft serve and frozen yogurt make their long-awaited return to Carrillo. 

I suppose I’m biased toward mentioning the better moments, as I’m nearing the end of my freshman year and I want to assume that there was an upward trend. I’d like to think that there was. 

The fact of it is that there are still bad moments — bad days, awkward encounters and times where I’m reminded that many good things are temporary. I don’t think bad moments entirely leave your life, even when you are unbelievably happy. 

The checklist I wrote before coming to college is somewhat completed. Unfortunately, no love of my life is in sight, but there are definitely some sit-com worthy moments with my friends. As for that third point, becoming the most “intelligent, attractive and fulfilled version of myself,” I’ll leave that up to the next three years. 

When I head back home for the summer, I will not be playing “Bitter Sweet Symphony” in an attempt to transition into the end credits of my freshman year. There’s more to come, and I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I’ll do my best to take it in stride. I will, however, blast Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” as I return to my hometown for the summer, as to perfectly encapsulate the feeling of driving back to my childhood home.

The day I move out is like the day I move in: cloudy and bright. This time, though, the sun peeks through later in the day, golden and warm and utterly beautiful. 

So, here’s the opinion, since that’s what you came here for. 

People will offer you infinite pieces of conflicting advice about college. You’ll hear that it will be the best/worst/enlightening/lonely/beautiful/isolating four years of your life. You’ll hear from people that “college is what you make of it,” which will be immensely frustrating because you won’t really know what that means. You’ll hear people tell you that if you don’t love college as soon as you step foot on campus, you’re lame and you peaked in high school. 

None of these things are entirely true. That last one is entirely false. You don’t always have control over how things go down. Sometimes, you don’t even have control over how you feel about the things that go down. 

This is my advice for your freshman year, which is guaranteed to conflict with someone else in the college-advice echo chamber. 

Try not to fixate so much on other people’s experiences, because it’s guaranteed to make you feel like crap. 

Keep working out and keep writing in your journal, as stupid as that may feel at times. 

Join every club or organization on campus that even remotely interests you, because the connections you make with the people you meet there might surprise you. 

Ask your friends and acquaintances to hang out with you, because they’ll most likely say yes. 

Decorate your dorm room with pictures from your favorite movies (“The Social Network”) and mementos from your time here, whatever those are (for me, they’re Nexus articles). 

Shoot your shot when it comes to applying for positions and opportunities because you never know who you’ll meet once you get it. 

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to meet some quota when it comes to how many friends you make, just make sure that the friendships you do have last

Go to events that your Resident Assistant puts on, because I met one of my good friends at a pebble painting party that I had to call my mom to gain the courage to go to by myself. 

There are a multitude of other people who feel the exact same way as you, and you’re probably going to come across some of them, during which you can vent your frustrations and truly feel understood. 

When you feel jealous, binge-listen to “jealousy, jealousy” by Olivia Rodrigo because it is cathartic. 

Go to socials and optional meetings, because it’s something to do, you can meet more people and, if all else fails, you get some free food. 

And finally, go to the beach, sprint into the water and then shriek at how cold it is. 

And with that, I bid adieu to my freshman year of college. You were definitely an experience. 

And with that, I bid adieu to my freshman year of college. You were definitely an experience. 

Amitha Bhat recounts her freshman year of college: an experience she deems worthy of its own coming of age movie? Sit-com? She’ll figure it out eventually. 

A version of this article appeared on pg. 12 of the April. 13, 2023 edition of the Daily Nexus.