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As I begin to pack up my things to head back to the Lone Star State, I thought it might be nice to look back on the year I’ve had and everything that it has taught me. Like any new experience, my first year of college came with its fair share of challenges and successes, always keeping me on my toes. So, in honor of getting through the year mostly unscathed, here are my most important lessons learned from my first year of being a Mule: 

  1. The Hillside hill will always and forever be a slog to get up, even after doing it multiple times a day for nine months. No matter how much energy you thought you had before beginning your ascent, however many hikes you have done that should mean you can go up a little hill no problem, you will be out of breath by the time you reach the door to Leonard. 
  2. Don’t bother trying to maneuver your way down an icy hill, especially if you have never done that before. Just pray that your pants won’t get too wet and slide down. It’s faster, more fun, and the risk of wiping out reduces significantly. 
  3. Say yes if a friend asks you to do something, especially at the beginning of the year. Some of my best memories from the fall semester were a result of a spontaneous trip to Acadia with the first friends I made here, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world. College is about school, yes, but it is also about having fun and making memories. Maybe it’s the influence from my brothers going to a big party school and prioritizing fun over grades, but I must confess that the majority of my favorite moments this year were because I said yes to something that was completely unexpected, last-minute, or that meant I needed to stay up super late to finish the homework I abandoned to go have fun. 
  4. The Sturdy kitchen may be radioactive, but it does work. Was I scared to consume the cookies I baked in it? Slightly. But baking in that kitchen is an experience in itself, and it just added to the fun nights I wanted to have cookies for. Except right now, it looks more radioactive than ever, and I wouldn’t touch the oven with a ten-foot pole. 
  5. Take a professor to Mary Low at least once. Try to take the professor you are the least close to — not only do you get to know them better, but it shows that you care. And it’s fun!
  6. Doordashing Taco Bell is the solution to about 99 percent of problems, even if it’s just a temporary solution. If something can’t be solved by a quesadilla and a Baja Blast, then you know it’s serious. 
  7. Do NOT, and I cannot emphasize this enough, have an eight-hour study session in Mudd unless you want to lose all sense of time and the ability to think. You will leave feeling like you have stepped out into another planet, and you will smell like rocks. 
  8. DO have playtime the second it gets warm enough to be outside. I’m talking full-on outside playtime like when we were little. It’s the best stress reliever. An important rule with this is that you have to do at least one cartwheel, otherwise it doesn’t count as true playtime. 
  9. Pay attention to where your lift is going when you ski, especially if you don’t know how to ski. Otherwise, you will end up on a black diamond at the top of the mountain and have to walk down, which is both scary and extremely embarrassing. Seriously, do not assume the longest line leads to the green slopes. It doesn’t. 
  10. The most important lesson learned this year: the scariest changes are the ones that will put you exactly where you were meant to be and, at least in my case, will be one of the best things to ever happen to you. Change is hard, starting college is scary, and being in an entirely new environment is extremely uncomfortable. But it forces you out of your comfort zone and introduces you to countless new friends, opportunities, and experiences. 

These past two semesters have changed my life and looking back, I can’t believe I used to be so scared. Sure, coming here was different from everything I had ever known and planned for my college experience. But I truly believe I was meant to end up here and I am so glad I did. The memories I have made — both good and bad — and the challenges I have faced here have only helped me become a better person. And the friends I have made this year have filled me with an immeasurable amount of joy. They have taught me perhaps the most important lesson of them all when it comes to that first year of college: ask someone to get a meal, watch a movie, or go on a walk. Ask the person sitting next to you in class for their number to be study buddies. Start saying hello. These people around you could be your best friends — all you have to do is start the conversation. 


~ Kathryn Stone `26

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