Classes are about to end, but the damage from the mental stress will remain with me forever. In addition to the fact that the world is flooding, we’re going to blow ourselves up and that artists in the 16th century were undeniably sexist, I’ve learned important life lessons that have changed me whether I wanted to be changed or not.

Appreciate your family. I’ve always considered myself appreciative and loving of my family, but not enough that I actually listened to their advice. I text, call and visit them as much as I can but it’s still not enough. Some international students don’t really have the ability to go visit their families, so I can only imagine what they’re feeling. The lesson here is, you don’t know when you’ll have dinner with your parents again or go shopping with your sibling or be able to go to a family reunion, so take every chance you can to do so.

Keep in contact with your professors, ask them questions, email them. Most of them are understanding if you explain yourself and most are more than willing to help. Whether there’s a technical problem they don’t know about or their instructions weren’t clear — talk to them. Build a relationship with them. You may even need their letters of recommendation in the future. Make appointments with your advisor because if you don’t know what classes you’re going to take by the time your registration date comes along, you’re going to have to quit your job to arrange your work schedule around your class schedule.

Take it easy on younger professors. They haven’t reached tenure yet so they’re under pressure to do a good job. My young professors have been more strict, not because they take joy in seeing a college student suffering the same way they are, but because they have to produce results.

Buy a pair of rain boots. For the love of your feet and socks, please, buy a pair of rain boots. I don’t have a single pair of shoes that haven’t been completely soaked through from the rain or snow. Nothing can ruin your day like walking into class with the “squish squash” of sopping shoes.

Talk to your peers. If your professors don’t post lecture notes online, having a friend in class who’s willing to share theirs with you can be invaluable. Having someone to do homework and study with can alleviate a lot of stress, as long as you can stay on subject. The U is an enormous college and everyone has a different point of view and personality — so getting to know other students can teach you a lot about the world and you could even build a lifelong friendship. I know I’m going to miss having class with some of my peers, especially since I’m not the best socializer.

You are going to be tired in the morning no matter what time you go to bed, so you might as well get your work done now. This was one of the hardest practical lessons for me to learn because I’ve always had a strict bedtime. I learned that the little voice in your head that encourages you to go to sleep because “you can just wake up a little early and finish the homework then” is actually the devil. I started just sitting down and doing homework until it was done, even if it meant I didn’t get to sleep until three in the morning (when I usually wake up at 7:30). Doing this allowed me to get assignments in on time and I had more free time on the weekends. Yeah I’ve been tired. I’m tired no matter what. Sleep is for graduates and weekends.

College is hard. I haven’t even started working on my major yet. These last nine months have forced me to become an adult, something that always terrified me. When discouraged, you just have to keep reminding yourself why you’re doing this, why you’re in college and going into debt. It’s because of the little piece of you that wants to save the world, who wants to be happy with life. Take advantage of anything that can make this process better for you.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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