Author: Jhana Mosley
On my first day on campus, I wore a pair of flat-bottomed off-white Vans. The shoe game seems to be an important aspect of life, so I thought I’d start the year this way. I was compelled to wear the cute, checkered pieces and quickly realized that we would be doing a ton of walking, to which my poor feet would suffer from greatly.
I can’t tell you what ran through my mind the morning of move-in day because it was a haze of driving, loading and unloading in burning heat. Sweat covered my brow and I couldn’t get “why do my feet hurt?” out of my mind.
As new students, it’s normal to have expectations of what you think college will be like.
My parents filled my brain constantly with stories about their college escapades and adventures full of danger, laughter and even fear. They spoke about the chaotic move-in process, their enlightened professors and their lectures as well as all the free time off-campus.
However, my parents didn’t have stories for a school year during a global pandemic. So, morning after morning, I would hesitate on the UAB homepage before inevitably reading the latest update anyway.
UAB had so many changing guidelines. Before I got here, nearly everything was online, and then they announced everything was back on-campus. Next, we were no longer masking, and after that, it was masking in all inside locations. I would wake up every morning during the summer to check the latest UAB campus guidelines.
When I arrived at UAB, I thought that everything would be more complicated. But if the previous year had taught me anything, it was to be prepared for anything.
I wasn’t completely mad about online schooling, but I wanted nothing to do with it during what was supposed to be some of the best years of my life. Online-hybrid-whatever-they-name-it-next-learning had never been my thing, so my fear was completely warranted after the confusion of July and the rise of the delta variant.
I believed that I needed to know everything in order to succeed. My teachers in high school always said, “These professors won’t care. You are going to have to do it all by yourself without any help. College is going to be hard.”
They were mostly wrong. College isn’t easy by any means, but you aren’t by yourself. The people around you can help you. UAB has many resources if you are having a rough time or getting overwhelmed. Your professors are willing to work with you if you apply yourself to your studies and visit them if you have questions.
I expected so much from my college experience, and though I wasn’t disappointed, I was not as overwhelmed as I thought I would be.
This may not be the case for everyone. For some, you may argue that you never had any expectations coming into college. Maybe you knew exactly how it would be. For some, college was just college: nothing extraordinary.
For those of you who feel this way, rethink your first day. Note whether you were surprised at anything or if you felt a particular emotion after your parents, siblings, etc. left you to your own devices. If any of this applies to you, you may have had an unintentional expectation — the kind you can’t control — and it was quickly resolved, so you had no reason to think about it twice.
Having expectations is not taboo. People shouldn’t make you feel dumb or inferior for the way you thought things would pan out or because they planned for college in a way you didn’t. It is normal to be disappointed, surprised or even happy about how college has turned out because it is a dynamic stepping-stone in life.
COVID has turned lives inside out, and yet it too has become an integral part of life itself. Sometimes it’s scary how normal it is, but all you can do is do your part where you are.
Expectations are OK. You may expect sunshine, forget your umbrellas, and get soaked on a rainy day (which happened to me on my third day on campus). However, it’s important that you understand that they were just expectations and that doesn’t make them a reality. Reality is a part of life and something that we, as college freshmen, must learn to accept, as changes are also part of being human.