Tips to survive your first year on campus

Congratulations, freshmen! Your first year here at the University of Arizona has begun. Long gone are the days of frantically cramming for the SATs. The many hours spent writing essays for college applications are in the past. You are now free - free to live on your own, free to stay out all night, free to take the classes that interest you most, free to decide who you are and just who you want to become.

Yes, the days of anguish and stress are finally over. Or are they?

Before I continue, let me introduce myself. I am a sophomore majoring in English. I lived in Pennsylvania up until last year, when I decided that I needed a change. So I packed up my bags, said goodbye to family and friends, and came to Arizona. I was nervous, but also convinced that I'd made the right decision.

Needless to say, my positive state of mind was drastically altered after attending two days of Freshman Orientation. All of the classes I wanted to take were full. I got lost while trying to find my way around campus. And the two-hour wait in 110-degree heat to get my ID card certainly didn't boost my enthusiasm.

But worst of all, I missed my home. A million stressful thoughts crossed my mind. How would I adjust to sharing a room with someone else? How would I survive without my mom's cooking? What was I going to do without my friends? And did I really have to wear flip-flops every time I took a shower? As you can see, I felt that I'd made the biggest mistake of my life by moving so far away.

I bring up all of these unpleasant memories because I know that there are a lot of you out there who feel like I did. I won't lie. The first few weeks were tough, but as time went by, my life got better. I made friends with people in my dorm, and it was their support that helped me get through that rocky first semester. OK, they helped me through the second semester, too. But hey, college can really be a stressful place.

Fortunately, there are some ways for you to beat that stress:

I suppose the most important lesson I learned during my freshman year was that college is a growing process. In fact, I still feel nervous about starting a new year, but I realize that with a positive outlook and support from friends, I will be able to do it.

So get out there, meet people, learn something and have some fun. That's what college is all about. Good luck.

Jill Dellamalva is a sophomore majoring in English.