What I Learned in My First Year at Marquette

19260312_1571859482847597_3920726082226429607_n-700x503By Kathryn Rochford

Hi everyone!

Happy Summer! I recently just finished my freshman year here at Marquette and boy, did I learn a lot. I challenged myself academically, physically and mentally. I grew and changed in so many ways. I met some of my best friends here, I started a new sport, and I connected with professors and fellow students in class. I cheered on our boys’ basketball team all the way through March Madness. Also, it goes without saying, I even survived the polar vortex in Milwaukee, which is one of the most impressive feats of the school year.

While this year was full of so many ups and downs, I’m so happy to be here at Marquette, and especially in the College of Education. I’d like to share the top 5 things I learned from my first year of college.

College is both harder and easier than you expect it to be.
Yes, I know that seems like I’m contradicting myself, but it’s true! The hardest part of college, especially at the beginning of each new semester is adjusting to a new schedule, new professors and their teaching styles, and fresh faces in your classes. You might think you’ll have tons of time since classes only take up a fraction of your day, but between studying, working out, making time for friends, eating at relatively normal hours and getting a somewhat functional amount of sleep, it’s harder to balance than you think!

The easiest part of college I found comes with course load and making friends. As with most things in life, I quickly learned you will get out what you put in. Balancing course load is easy when you’re proactive, have your syllabus laid out every night, and have a master calendar to check on upcoming deadlines. Making friends, while intimidating at first, gets easier when you get involved in clubs you’re passionate about. It may take some time, but when you find those quality friends, hold on to them.

Having a reusable water battle is a blessing.
Yes, yes, we’ve all heard how important drinking water is, but you don’t really think about just how important it is until it’s 4 p.m. in Milwaukee and it’s still 90 degrees out and your building has no air conditioning. Trust me, you’ll want to hydrate yourself as much as humanly possible. Bonus, it helps save the turtles and cuts down on plastic waste! A reusable water bottle with a filter built into it is even easier to use since you can fill it up at any tap.

Don’t bother bringing your whole wardrobe from home.
Not only does this take up way too much space in your itty-bitty dorm room, but it’s also stressful to pack at home. And then when you do go home for break, you have no clothes to wear because they’re all back up at school. My advice: go through the clothes you own, as likely you own more than you think, and donate the clothes that don’t fit, don’t get worn, etc. You help others in the long run, and you free up some space in that closet of yours. Bringing your whole wardrobe is kind of pointless because if you’re like me, you’ll only alternate between the same few bottoms and maybe 10-15 tops until laundry day anyway. Bottom line: no matter how much you’re tempted, DON’T DO IT.

Learn how to write a professional email.
This skill is incredibly useful for so many reasons, whether it’s looking for an internship, writing for a scholarship or addressing professors, administrators and advisers. Always have a subject line that explains the problem, or if possible, highlight the class and section you’re in so professors can be more prepared to respond to you individually. Greetings are huge, and when in doubt for a class, always say professor or doctor. Get in the habit of addressing your question in paragraph form: explain what your question is, how you interpreted the solution and then ask for their suggestion to the solution. Then, explain how you can be contacted and various meeting times if needed. Always proofread for clarity and/or grammatical/spelling errors, too. By creating this habit, it establishes you as a student that invests in their learning and understanding of content, as well as helps to establish a relationship with professors.

Milwaukee is a fun city: explore it.
Looking back at this past year, the one thing I wish I had done more of was explore. First semester, I hardly even visited downtown Milwaukee, and I only ever left campus to run errands or go to the mall. Once I found my best friends, I found I had so much more fun during the week by doing quick runs to the beach, to Kopps, or Aloha Poke. Those fun little adventures created memories I’ll never forget and helped me to realize that there’s so much I haven’t seen or done yet that I can’t wait to do sophomore year. That’s the beauty of being in a big city: there’s a restaurant for nearly every culture, concerts for every music taste, and beautiful views of the skyline at night or the lake on a sunny afternoon. But, make sure you are aware of your surroundings: have a charged phone, headphones so no one bothers you but you can hear what they are saying, google maps pulled up on your phone or easy access to an Uber or the bus system. I learned more than book smarts here at Marquette, I also learned some street smarts too, and safety is of utmost importance in a big city. My biggest tip for any incoming freshman is to explore and take advantage of the warm days while you’ve got them, otherwise before you know it it’s snowing on the second to last week of school and all you want to do is stay inside.

Freshman year: you were fun, and you taught me a lot. Bring it on sophomore year!

 

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