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What I wish I knew – (Cruz)ilious Contreras-Amezcua ’23

Time is crucial in college, and anywhere really. In college, you’re given a pile of work to complete in a span of one to two days and probably a number of meetings too. On top of that, you have to make sure that you’re taking care of your needs (that means no holding your bladder until you finish that last essay sentence!). Things like making sure you’re eating meals, practicing good hygiene, even making your living space feel a little more like home. This can be especially difficult for first-year students to navigate if it’s their first time in an environment like this. Let’s be honest, it can all overwhelm you pretty fast.

Coming into college, I already knew I was going to struggle academically. I came from a no-longer-existent high school as its last graduating class, and its first full four-year class (despite attending a different high school my freshman year). I was unsure of what to expect socially as my high school was also very small with a graduating class of 102 students. I didn’t feel prepared for college. I felt like I was set up for failure, but knew I failure wasn’t an option, especially as a first-generation student. Surprisingly, although I still struggle to navigate college life from time to time, I’m holding it down pretty well. For me, it came to be that it wasn’t so much about the amount of work to complete or the socialization, it was the time used to do so!

When you have breaks in-between classes, those short 20 minutes can make or break you in situations like printing out the essay you wrote and couldn’t print the night before because the printer in TNT lounge was broken. An hour in-between dinner and a club meeting can mean one less hour to complete a two-hour language Supersite activity later. A Saturday filled with essay writing can mean a Sunday filled with cozy naps and going to Wendy’s for lunch with friends after. Those large gaps in our schedule look big when printed on your schedule, but feel so small when you put your head down at the library, and look back up at the clock seeing two hours have passed already. It makes you question, “Does time really fly by when you’re having fun, or does it just fly by in general?”

College is about having more freedom, but what does that freedom entail? Time. You have to force yourself to wake up and go to class, force yourself to send emails and fill out paperwork, force yourself to walk to Baker and eat a meal (or even a sugar cookie, no judgment on this end), and for some students, even do your own laundry for the first time (Tide pods are your friends in college by the way). There’s so much responsibility, it almost feels as if, wait…we’re adults?

We’re young adults taking care of ourselves and our responsibilities in our own time! That’s what I wish I knew before going off to college. Freedom in college is about being a young adult on your own time. We all have to navigate that, and yes, it can be scary, but Juniata shows that its resources and community can help guide you through it. Professors are want to work with you, other students share their experiences and tips, QUEST always has a resource paper or someone to talk to, the list goes on. I may not master the concept of time anytime soon, I probably never will perfectly, but I’m learning to navigate it while growing and living out my college experience as a young adult. I have to say, that’s been working for me.

-(Cruz)ilious Contreras-Amezcua ’23, Peace and Conflict Studies POE, proud dad-bod-wielding softie