First month of college isn’t exactly like the movies

By James Stein Sep 17, 2021
Image by Isabel Sperry
Image by Isabel Sperry

On September 18, I will have been a college student for a full month. Time has flown by and yet it’s hard to believe it’s only been that long since I awkwardly climbed into my lofted bed and fell asleep in a college dorm for the first time. I feel I’ve already changed and experienced so much since my parents dropped me off weeks ago and as an avid movie-watcher I have definitely compared my new reality to the expectations I had before I arrived.

If you’re anything like me you had an image in your head of what the first month or even the entire four years would look like and maybe your expectations weren’t totally met. I have genuinely enjoyed my time at Illinois Wesleyan and my newfound freedom, but it’s weird to think about all the movies and TV shows I’ve watched and compare my experiences.

I think high school teachers probably warn you how certain behaviors “won’t fly in college” more than they spend time actually teaching you. Because of this, I had a lot of fears about how strict college professors would be and how the workload would be unbearable. Thankfully, this has been far from the case. All my professors have been so helpful and understanding of this massive transition—especially since our last few years of schooling were pretty unconventional and I haven’t experienced any midnight breakdowns over exams—yet.

But on the flip side of high school teachers’ warnings, every movie you watch about college makes it look like—well, a movie. They never do homework, they always dress up for class and make lifelong friends in the first ten minutes of the film. 

Spoiler alert: that has not been my experience. I started rewearing outfits within my first week and it took me longer to find people I have things in common with. I think the fast paced culture of college is one of the things that I’ve felt insecure about. One thing I have learned is how important it is to realize there’s so much time ahead of us and not to put pressure on ourselves to be perfect immediately.

One element of college life that did make me feel like I was in a movie was the RSO fair that took place a couple weeks ago. If you’ve watched “Pitch Perfect” you probably know the scene where Becca walks around as different groups try to draw people to their booths. Walking through the quad that day as people representing their assorted clubs and sororities started talking to you definitely felt exactly as it was portrayed in the movie. We even have an acapella group as it turns out which I would totally join to have my main character moment if I wasn’t an abysmal vocalist.

 I’ve enjoyed seeing real life people playing games on campus like Spikeball  – which is an homage to every college movie where someone plays hackysack in the quad. 

Walking to class with my earbuds in has also been a really cathartic experience and I can’t wait until Red (Taylor’s Version) comes out so I can really savor my walks across our beautiful campus and have my main character moment.

Overall while some of my wildest dreams about college haven’t come true yet, I’m more confident than ever that I chose the right school. Everyone always talks about the sense of community here at Wesleyan and I’ve certainly witnessed the camaraderie on campus. And, hey, it’s only been a month, who knows what the future holds. 

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