Confronting the reality of college

Prior to moving in to the University of Miami this fall, I had plenty of preconceived notions about what college life would be like—and naturally, they didn’t all turn out correct. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being surprised by my experiences and surroundings in college has positively impacted my own development, even if that meant encountering some brief discomfort.

One such expectation was that as a college student, I’d be living a completely independent lifestyle. Free from the rigid schedule of high school and parental controls, my life here at the U has been a lot more flexible—but to say that I’m independent would be a lie. The fact of the matter is that the university community has a sprawling support network, one that new students like me need in order to thrive. Advisers and residential staff have been an invaluable resource for me and my peers, allowing us to take advantage of the many resources that UM has to offer.

Coming from a high school that had a uniform policy, I was used to seeing the same polos and jeans day in and day out. When classes started here at UM, the reality of student fashion surprised me; the variety of outfits and styles was far greater than I had imagined. From BAPE to Supreme, and everything in between, Canes sure know how to dress.

Living in a dorm room, I expected to only really interact with my roommate. In reality, my entire floor has been very welcoming and friendly. There’s a unique sense of community among my floormates, and the Futurama-themed decorations give our floor its own style and character that is distinct from all the others. Resident Assistants, Orientation and First Year Fellows are both great friends and helpful allies who are ready and willing to make sure our experience here at The U is as comfortable and smooth as can be.

Perhaps the one expectation I had that wasn’t too far from reality concerns the attitudes of my peers. In a new and refreshing academic setting, I expected my fellow freshmen to be driven, motivated people. That’s exactly what I’ve experienced so far.

Unlike in high school, my peers are excited to be studying. Now that they’re able to study what they’re interested in, many students’ mindsets about school have changed. Even those who are undecided in their majors are ambitious and looking forward to seeing how these next years of their lives will impact them.

Things don’t always turn out how you expect them to, and that’s perfectly fine. Preconceptions can be wrong—but no matter the case, being able to handle changing circumstances builds a resilient character. By facing new situations, especially ones that you were not anticipating, you’re forced to adapt and grow. Outside of your comfort zone, personal development is inevitable. The result? Better problem-solving and versatility, which at the end of the day makes us all better Canes.

Benjamin Estrada is a freshman majoring in communication honors – journalism.