The end of summer is almost approaching with a new semester just around the corner. For some, the first day will be their first day of their high school experience; for others, it'll just be another first day of another year. For those recent high school graduates, it's the daunting first day of college. As a fellow college student myself, I'd like to share a few basics about college - what you need to know and how to prepare for it.


Before delving into my college101 guide, I'd like to let you know that my insights and experiences that I'll write about is based from community college. Since living in the US, I've always been confused by the word "college" because it's used interchangeably between "university" and "community college": so to clarify, I'm currently in a two-year community college. The degree I'm doing is a Transfer Associates where, since my school is an affiliate, I'll be transferring to University of Central Florida when I graduate.

Now that we got that in the way, let's go on to the basics of college and anything you need to know!

College is much more chill

I don't know anything about American high schools since I didn't go to one, but college is the most chill place. You could walk into campus wearing a unicorn onesie, or ride your light up hover board, or even roll into class in your Heelys and no one will give a damn. It's a place with no judgement, so if high school made you uncomfortable I'm pretty sure college will be a more relaxing experience.

Even the teachers are very down to earth. I've noticed from my time at my college, teachers are much more lenient to punishment; an example is my Spanish oral exam. My professor understood that I've never taken a class nor spoken a word of Spanish before in my life, so he was lenient towards how I was graded. Y'all probably know, but there are also memes all over Instagram and Twitter of students sharing funny and casual emails received from professors.

via buzzfeed
But take this with a grain of salt - as a student, you still want to display a good image to your professors for good references. Just because they're acting nonchalant, it doesn't mean you should too!

Make sure you're able to finish a course

One mistake that students tend to make whilst in college is dropping out of classes. It's understandable that for some, it's inevitable due to certain circumstances. But dropping classes is a big risk. It would go on your record and you would waste money on course resources and materials like textbooks. So before picking your classes, ask yourself if you're able to do this for the whole semester.

It happened to me in the last one. I was taking Earth Science fully online, but decided that online classes weren't for me (especially with a heavy subject like earth science) so I decided to drop it. I wasted around $150 on the textbook and the login to the website with the all the course materials. Don't waste your money! It's important to be frugal and cautious with your money, especially with any student loans you may have taken out - you don't want to be reckless with that, otherwise it will be harder to pay back your student debt!!

Watch your budget

I've already mentioned this in my previous point, but this is an important part when you're in college. If you're reckless with your spending and spend your loan money on unnecessary stuff, then you will regret it when your student debt is quietly hiding in your shadows, following you everywhere until you pay it back. Ensure you pay it back in time as well - some student loans have interest (meaning that the longer you wait to pay it back, the bigger the debt will become).

Researchers have shown that, for the average person with a bachelor's degree, it will take them at least 21 years to pay off their student loan debts. So if you're still a high school student, avoid getting stuck in debt by ensuring that you're saving money!

Be a good student

Even though I've said that college is chill, it does not mean you should be too relaxed. College is still a school that takes your education seriously, so don't miss any opportunities to maintain your GPA and a good image! I know that in college, you gain more independence and freedom and, of course, there's the stereotypical college parties, but don't forget what your priorities are!

Make friends

College has a diverse range of students - from older people who are married with kids, to recent high school graduates, to transfers, and people of different backgrounds. Take the opportunity to interact with interesting people and make friends! It's a great way to make your college experience more fun, as well as be with people with whom you'll make memories with.

Join clubs, form study groups in your classes, and talk with people! If you don't make any friends, then that's completely fine! It's okay to be alone sometimes; there's no agenda to be consistently sociable, so it's not mandatory. And plus, college is a non critical place after all, so no one will judge you.

Always talk to your teachers/advisors

I cannot stress the importance of keeping regular contact with your professors and academic advisors - they are the key to your successful graduation! Talk to your teachers about extra credit, if you're confused about some of the assignments, or how to improve your work. Talk to your advisors once to twice a semester to see where you're at, how your courses are going, and how close you are to graduating. If you're confused about anything, talk to them!

It's also worth considering that you also need references for when you're transferring to a different college, or if you're, perhaps, applying for jobs. So also make friends with your teachers and counsellors!

And have fun!

Despite all seriousness, have fun! I mean, college will be your last few years of education until you can find your career and finally live the adult life, so let go every once in a while! Go wild at parties and travel to places you want to go to, enjoy your freedom as the young millennial for a while until you hit the road after graduation.

As I continually mention, I am no professional. I'm not a qualified college advisor and most of my statements are based from general knowledge and my one year experience as a college student.

If you're like me, in college, and have tips and advice that's not mentioned then feel free to leave them in the comments!

In a society that's filled with hatred and prejudice, divided between the two extremes, keeping a smile on your face with a jovial sincerity must be difficult. The image-obsessiveness we've gained from the snapping scrutiny we receive from social media as well as the pressure to fit into the standards of society has abstained us from self-love and true happiness.

From my observations and self-revelations, I've come to realize that happiness doesn't stem from being Mister or Miss Perfect: surrounded by perfectly outgoing friends, flexing the ideal body, being in a relationship, and overall living in a constant positive environment. Like the concept of beauty, happiness is subjective and people find all sorts of way to define it.

Growing up, I thought perfection was the key to happiness - and so I would always perfect the way I looked, how I acted, how I spoke, and I micro-managed every detail of myself to appear perfect. It's how I defined happiness. Perfection, to me, was defined by a "hot body" and the perfect way of talking, the charming and humorous personality and the innate ability to be sociable. I often compared myself to the likes of successful celebrities and wealthy models with perfect cheekbones and slim bodies. I wanted to be that, and then I'd be happy.

Unfortunately, I was born as me. An awkward and clumsy girl who grew up in a suburban town in the UK, with a lack of ability to make friends and who has a lisp and a voice that cracks when I'm nervous. I have dark armpits and stretch marks on my hips and a protruding belly that I became so insecure about that I never wore bikinis. I have a big giant forehead and a round baby-looking face that's covered in redness and acne. I have small breasts, wide shoulders, and I'm not tall enough to be considered a model. This is me. But I've slowly come to encompass that.

I decided to share aspects of my appearance that are considered 'flaws', to remind you that people are not Barbie or Ken dolls with perfect skins and perfect lives. I felt that most of the unhappiness within the youth mainly comes from insecurities. Instagram and the fashion industry have imposed a delusional idea of what perfection is supposed to be, which I believe leads to the sad loss of self-love and genuine happiness in people.

I used to be unhappy with myself because of how I wasn't like the pretty women I see on my phone; how I looked and how I turned out to be as a person. But, it took a while for me to recognize the beauty and value of who I am. That my deadpanness and sarcasm revealed my British upbringing, my bulging belly showed that I'm healthy and eating well, and my face filled with baby fat reminisces the features of our heritage. I slowly but progressively walked the path of self-discovery, love, and happiness.

So here's a lesson for all of you who struggle loving themselves: don't allow the toxicity of social media and the ideals it imposes dictate your perception of yourself. Continue to look at yourself in the mirror to admire and idolize the person staring back, rather than shaming it for not fitting a certain template - because you are unique! You are beautiful! And you are worth it!

For me, I came to learn that happiness always starts with self-love. Before loving another person, or striving for your goal, or doing anything else, love yourself first. It may not be easy at the beginning, but life isn't easy; emotion, anger, and sadness are inevitable in every journey, so embrace your tears and angry outbursts.

I hope this has inspired you to start or continue your journey of self-love. Putting yourself first is more important than anything else.

Instagram