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Ongoing Lessons

By Elshaday Yilma

Dear Beloved Freshmen, since your first year is coming to an end you may find yourself overwhelmed by your journey and you may wonder what the next three years have in store for you. You may also want to either record your ups and downs or give advice to next year’s incoming freshmen.
A group of upperclassmen at University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) shared a similar sentiment during an Organizational Behavior class which led to the creation of “Dear Penn Freshmen.” The “Dear Penn Freshmen” website contains a pool of letters written by U Penn upperclassman addressed to themselves as freshmen. The letters, which are filled with honest observations, quirky anecdotes and self-deprecating humor, are meant to expose incoming freshmen to the realities they may face and how they may deal with them.

As Bereans there are challenges we openly discuss with our friends such as family problems, stress from school work and relationship issues. There are also lessons we consistently learn throughout our college careers that, if shared, might lessen the anxiety that most of us suffer from.
“Be kind to yourself,” was the first unexpected advice I received from a friend. He had noticed me dozing off in the library after two consecutive all-nighters. Your body is the one thing you will truly own at the end of the day; treat it well. Another lesson is to recognize your own growth. As we try to structure our lives and come across some drawbacks, it’s easy to assume that everyone else has their life together when yours is falling apart. It’s important to stop yourself and acknowledge that your life, however chaotic or peaceful it may currently be, is yours to change.

Your growth is not as obvious to you as it is to them, and you may not realize it until they point it out. I left for college as an Orthodox Christian, conservative, bi-lingual, Sociology major who enjoyed coffee. What didn’t change? I still love coffee. You should also be patient with yourself as you are with your parents. Senioritis may hit you during your sophomore year and you will notice it when it takes you more energy and time to start your assignment than it does to complete it. During this time, you may also redefine the concept of naps and how long they actually are. So what? Don’t be harsh on yourself. It simply means you are exhausted from having invested yourself too much your previous year. This concept of patience and understanding should also apply to other students.

Don’t judge that guy who arrived in class two minutes late in his pajamas for a Psychology final exam. That may be you at some point.
Lastly, the most treasured lesson I learned was from my freshman mentor professor. She told our class one day that a well-meant action without true intention is futile. If you have time, turn empty hellos into honest meaningful conversations. Somewhere in between running to my next class and always wearing earphones, I fell prey to the old smile and the polite, “How are you?” formula. I already knew the answer before I asked the question and that made me realize how much was lost in that script. If you can help it, ask with intention. You’d be surprised to learn how much a person is willing to share if you asked one more question.

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