How to Deal with First-Year Anxiety

by Molly Scott

First-years, you’re in the home stretch! NSOP is almost over, but the first day of classes is just around the corner and chances are you are still not entirely comfortable here (no one is). Try to relax and take things as they come, but just in case you’re experiencing some beginning-of-college jitters, here are a few tips to deal with some of the most common sources of first-year anxiety.

Soon enough, this will feel like home!

Adjustment to Living in New York City
For those first-years who aren’t from a city environment, living in New York can be very exciting but scary. It’s important to realize that both Barnard and Columbia’s campuses are havens from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Venturing out into the city is fun and taking advantage of all that NYC has to offer is important, but you will always have a calm place to return to when you reach campus. It may take a little while to get acquainted with the constant sound of traffic, but after a few weeks, it becomes background noise and is not very noticeable.

Roommate Concerns
Living with a roommate for the first time can cause some major anxiety. You will be living with this person for almost nine months, after all. The best way to calm these worries is good communication with you roommate(s). Be up front right away with your concerns about living with this person. Tell your roommate that you would appreciate quiet in the morning because you like to sleep late or that you are a night owl but will be respectful of her desire to go to bed early. Just remember to be honest and open and your relationship with your roommate will most likely be amicable. There’s a good chance that you’ll become friends for the duration of your Barnard years, but that is definitely not always the case. What’s most important is that you and your roommate comfortable with your living situation.

Yikes, those are a lotta books.

Making New Friends
Coming to college is an incredible opportunity to make friendships that will last a lifetime. NSOP may seem like a time when friendships are being forced upon you, but it’s OK if you don’t meet your best friend your first week at Barnard. The key to making new friends is by truly being yourself and just having natural conversations with people. Friendships develop over time, don’t rush them. Talk to your neighbor, the person sitting next to you in French class, or join a group of people sitting in Hewitt. You never know when a great friendship could blossom.

Class Stress / Workload
Most first-years are nervous that the workload in college is going to be unmanageable and extremely overwhelming. This is, for the most part, not the case. Yes, there is a good amount of work, but the trick is time management. You have so much free time in college and learning how to use it effectively is something that will happen over time, naturally. You will have the time to do the readings for your classes and write papers, don’t stress!

Homesickness
This is an unavoidable feeling you’re going to experience. It’s normal, it’s healthy, and it’s important to acknowledge it. Everyone is going through it, even if it seems like everyone on your hallway is totally loving NSOP and not missing home. Here’s an article about homesickness and how to cope with it.

Molly is a junior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of The Working World and Gerber Life.

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