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After My First Year In College: What A Difference A Year Makes

The Life Of A Second Year College Student Abroad

Next week, I return to St. Andrews for my second semester of second year, and I’m just so excited to get back. My life at school improved so much after my first semester of my freshman year: I knew where my classes were, I had established a group of friends, I was no longer homesick, and St. Andrews began to feel thoroughly like home. Every time I return to school, I feel like things get better and easier.

Even with the added stress of harder classes, searching for a flat, and the wholly un-fun summer internship application process, I’m keen to get back to school. I’m a member of the press team for a student-run, charity fashion show. (It’s the one where Kate Middleton made her modeling debut.) The show is on the first of March, and I can’t wait to see how all the work put into it manifests in the final event. I have spring break plans in Rome; it’s my first time to Italy, and the excitement of European travel never wears off.

In addition to being comfortably settled in St. Andrews, I feel more comfortably settled in myself. While I’ve been home for winter break, I finally tackled a monumental task that has been hanging over my head for years: I cleaned out my closet. Some half dozen full trash bags later, my closet is actually functional for the first time in recent history. Though this may not seem like a life-changing event, it really has been for me.

Changes In College: A Look Back

While in high school, I focused all of my energy on my schoolwork and extracurricular activities. And while that work yielded results, I had little focus for anything else. When it came to things that I wasn’t being graded on, I was rather disheveled. My room was constantly a mess, and I was constantly out of uniform. I spent little time doing things unrelated to school or the college process, especially once I was an upperclassman. (It’s important for me to note that this was entirely self-generated mania; my parents are the opposite of Tiger Mom.)

Now that I’m in college, I have found a much more comfortable balance between school and everything else. While I’m committed to my studies, they aren’t my only interest anymore. I’m able to go out without fear of legal or parental repercussions, which provides a release amidst all the studying. I quit biting my nails, as I have become a less anxious person in general. I am newly capable of (or at least committed to) a clean room. And more significantly, of a clean closet.

In many ways, I felt very successful as a high school student. But I was kind of a mess outside of the classroom. Now that I’m immersed in my university life, I feel like I have relaxed. I no longer feel the immense pressure of getting into college, and I’m able to pursue things more out of genuine interest rather than a panicky quest for distinguishing accolades.

I don’t regret my high school style, but I’m much happier in my new college rhythm. Now that I’m coming upon the close of the first half of my college career, I’m so appreciative of what St. Andrews has to offer. Because I only take three subjects, I’m able to study solely what I’m interested in. Because I’m already in the U.K., I’m able to travel and explore the world outside of St. Andrews. And because I have the experience of high school under my belt, I’m able to better appreciate what college has to offer. Cheers to that!

Emma Freer attended Ruffing Montessori and Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio. Emma gave the senior speech at her high school graduation.

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