How My First Semester Taught Me to Take Care of Myself

My first semester of college, without a doubt, has been a wild ride. I have made a lot of new friends, found what I feel is my niche, joined eight clubs around campus, and I’ve been studying hard for my classes. I’ve been weeks ahead in homework and also accidentally missed a couple assignments; I got nearly a 100% on a midterm, and then proceeded to fail another. The first several months of college, I struggled to balance a social life and my academics. I took all honors and AP classes in high school and had a limited social life. Coming to college, not only were classes significantly harder and faster-paced than high school, but I also now had a social life to maintain. It took awhile to adjust and learn my priorities.

In order to compensate for my new academic, social, and extracurricular lives, I began to lose sleep and skip meals. I didn’t have the time and, quite frankly, forgot about their importance. The first time my parents came to visit me at college, they commented how visibly thinner I was and the dark circles under my eyes. I was having a great time, but my body was falling apart as a result.

I finally hit a week that I would have to call the worst week of my college career so far. I received poor scores on not only one, but two midterms, and I had an abundance of homework that included two lab reports. In all honestly, I spent most of the week crying, skipping class, and barely sleeping. However, I made it through the week. As soon as the weekend hit, I looked back on the week and realized I needed to change what I was doing. This was not working for me.

I decided to skip my social plans for the weekend (which my friends fully supported after witnessing firsthand the previous week), and I spent as much time as possible working on homework. I took small breaks as to not burn out and I cut myself off to go eat meals with friends and sleep at a proper time. I got over a week ahead on my homework. This allowed me to spend the following week learning to sleep at a better time, spending more time actually studying for courses instead of merely doing homework, and allowing myself the time to relax and recover.

I now make schedules for myself. I schedule in my meals, time to relax, time to socialize, plenty of time for homework and studying, and time to sleep. I may not have a perfect sleep schedule, but I go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning, and get at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night (the amount recommended by my doctor). My experience from the beginning of the semester may have been terrible, but it was worth it since I now schedule time for at least a little bit of everything I want to do and am now properly taking care of myself.

Fall Break

Over fall break, I had the chance to visit home for the first time. Fall break began on October 11 and as soon as I got out of class on that Wednesday, my mom came to campus to pick me up. Up until the week before fall break, I was not planning to come home. I was enjoying every moment of college – from the free time with my new friends to even my difficult homework assignments. I didn’t miss home at all. I was so busy and absorbed in my new life that I didn’t have time to even think of home. However, midway through the week, homesickness hit me hard. I’m from Cincinnati, OH, and I wanted nothing more than to go to Skyline with my two close friends, just as we had done nearly every week last year. So, I immediately called my parents and they jumped at the chance to see me for the first time in weeks.

Coming home was a strange feeling. I felt like an outsider in a place I had lived in for the past 15 years of my life. The yellow hue of the kitchen lighting hitting the wood floors and the smell of whatever takeout my dad brought home after work this time hit me as I walked in the door. I never thought I would miss that feeling, but I did and it felt so good to experience it again. Over the next two days, I spent as much time as possible with my family and my old tennis team, and I went to Skyline with my friends (of course).

I was so glad to be home, yet after those two days, I was ready to go back to campus. I was so confused why I loved being home so much, but I wanted to go back to campus so badly. That’s when I realized that I, without a doubt, picked the right college for me. The fact that I was so homesick, yet wanted nothing more than to be at my college showed me how much I love it here at Ohio State. I truly picked the school for me and, while I’ll still visit home every now and then, I have found my new home here in Columbus.