There’s a lot that I wish I’d known about health before moving away from my parents, and I’m not talking about the freshman 15. There are, in fact, a great number of ways you can get hurt when left to care for yourself. I’ll list them out to keep things organized:
1. Someone in your dorm will get Mono, and you should do your best to make sure it isn’t you. Mono is pretty debilitating, and when my dorm neighbor had it, he missed so much schoolwork he had to drop his classes take the rest of the academic quarter off.
Advice: never ever share water bottles, and when dating new people, know that you are taking your chances.
2. Depending on your campus, your risk of having a bike accident could be unusually high. At UC Davis, bikes outnumber people, and if a student has never biked before, chances are he learns how during the first week of classes. This makes for an exceptionally dangerous week, and even a silly mistake – not looking over your shoulder, rubbing dust out of your eyes – could lead to a crash. The possible consequences from road rash to a concussion could mess with your life, and also importantly, with your grades.
Advice: if you go to a bike-friendly school, give your peers some time to figure the roads out before you join the traffic.
3. Then, there are food allergies. If you’re like me, then you’ll proudly have no food allergies, and you’ll move to a new place, meet new friends, try new food, and SURPRISE, the food tries to kill you from the inside out.
Advice: If Benadryl doesn’t work, go to the ER.
4. Finally, learn to know when you’re sick. You are young, and probably healthy, and I’m sure you have a fair amount of confidence in your body. You probably shouldn’t, though. Our bodies, unfortunately, work until they don’t. So if yours suddenly doesn’t anymore, accept it, and get treated.
Advice: Know your way to the student health center. Don’t overdo it with antibiotics though. We’re on the verge of a massive bacteria-resistance problem.
Planning The Rest of Your Life:
You’re going to change your plan, guaranteed. Five years ago, my AP English teacher told my class that we would all change our majors. Every single one of us, she said, except the ones who wanted to study engineering. I didn’t believe her – in part because I felt like her view was influenced by the tech-oriented area I grew up in. I wasn’t going into engineering, and I already knew exactly what I was going to do with my life.
Never mind that my life plan involved four years of reading fun books and then sitting under a tree in a park and writing the next great American novel. At that point in my life, everyone except me knew how unrealistic that was. In the end, I didn’t change my major, but I did feel like I needed to add a second one, and I completely changed what I want to do with them.
So, my point? Don’t get caught in your major. Don’t be held back by your determination to see something through. Make sure you get a degree, but beyond that, remember that college is for learning and exploring, not just setting out to finish what you think you’ve figured out already.
I hope my reflection and advice doesn’t imply that I regret college. I don’t, and most of my mistakes aren’t really mistakes, they’re just things that didn’t happen the way I planned. Anyway, make use of what you can, and best of luck with the next four years.