Looking back and reminiscing over the past year, starting with my high school graduation and ending with the end of my freshman year of college, I have found myself in ways that I would have never imagined. Transitioning from high school to college can be a roller coaster of emotions so here are the 11 things every incoming freshman should know that will help prepare you for the road ahead.

1. It’s not all about the partying. 

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Don’t get me wrong, going out to party is possibly one of the best things about college, but it’s not all what you see in movies.  There is some studying involved too. It is very easy to get pulled off track if all you have in your mind is party, party, and more party.

Make sure you’re capable of finding a balance between your social endeavors and your academic goals. My advice to you would be to not leave your homework for the very last minute. You don’t wanna look back on your college career and regret being all study and no fun, or all fun and no study.

2. You will develop crappy eating habits if you're not careful.

Freedom to eat whatever you want whenever you want it. Sounds nice, right? Well, it’s great until you realize that your favorite pair of skin tight jeans are getting tighter by the hour.

Let me fill you in on a few little secrets. Dining halls cook their food with ridiculous amounts of oil. No, french fries are not considered a vegetable, and midnight pizza and ice cream are not your best friends. In college, you no longer have your mom’s home-cooked meals, instead, you have lots of food readily available and the ability to make eating decisions for yourself.

#SpoonTip: In the dining hall, fill half of your plate with vegetables, choose lean proteins such as chicken and fish, and pick whole grains.

3. Money crawls out of your wallet very, very fast.

Geez. This one is hard. So, at the beginning of the year you start off with all of the money you saved up over the summer (or not) and you feel like you have your life together at this point. Going to the mall with your friends, buying coffee every single day, and inviting everyone to a round of shots at a bar all seem like a splendid idea until one day you open your wallet to pay for your daily cup of coffee and realize you have three quarters to your name. 

#SpoonTip: make an Excel spreadsheet to keep control of how much you’re spending monthly and try to save money.

4. Long distance relationships don’t work (most of the time).

Let's be real. So, if you had a boyfriend your senior year of high school, then you most likely had the "we will give long distance a try" conversation before you left for college. A few months in, you'll feel like you two are the world's strongest couple. However, as time goes by, school starts to get hard, you are both meeting new people, and the relationship gets tough. This is where you have to stop yourself and think for a second, "Am I truly happy?"

College is the time to embrace being single, focus on yourself, find what makes you happy, pursue your dreams, and as people will tell you many, many times, it is the time to "find yourself." Letting distance and your independence be the only factors stopping you from being together with that special someone, in my opinion, is better than making a mistake that will make you hate the other person forever. 

5. Sleeping 8-9 hours a night is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Pulling all nighters to study for a big test is not healthy in any way, shape, or form, but if I'm being realistic, it is sometimes very necessary. That being said, the nights that I do manage to somehow get 8 to 9 hours of sleep, I can definitely tell the difference the next day. Feeling sluggish and tired can really weigh on you when you're trying to go to 8 AM lectures and 3 hours of chemistry labs.

Don't do that to yourself — strategize. Find ways to get things done between classes instead of spending all night writing that paper that's due at 9 AM the next day. 

6. You will lose friends.

Nobody wants to hear the sad and ugly truth. I'm sure you've heard that the people you talk to now will not be the same people you talk to in a few years. I can guarantee that this is true.

On graduation day, everyone will cry and promise you that they will keep in touch, but in reality, only the truest of friends will remain. You'll realize who is worth investing your time and energy on and who will stick with you through thick and thin. Don't be afraid to let go of the negative relationships in your life. Believe me, you will spare yourself a lot of heartache and drama. 

7. You will make friends. True friends.

Losing friends is not always a bad thing. In fact, it opens up doors for possibilities of meeting new people. At first, it can be hard to adapt to an entirely different group of people, but once you find the right people, I promise, it will get easier. Living with someone else can either be a bullet or a blessing. They will know your class schedule, your favorite food, your deepest darkest secrets, and even how you will respond to a midnight call from your ex-boyfriend.

The friends I have made in college so far will not only be there for me through every waking moment in my college career, but also through my entire life. They are the type of people I would jump into a fountain in the middle of the night with ‘cause #college. 

8. You will find yourself calling your university “home.”

You'll hear the phrase "home away from home" plenty of times, but you won't really understand the true meaning of it until you finally experience it for yourself.  The first time I experienced this notion was my first time home of my first semester in college – the long-awaited winter break. I walked into my house after about 4 months of living in another country and it felt amazing. 

Even though I expected to pick up where I had left off, it strangely felt like I was temporarily on vacation at my first home. Maybe it was the fact that in those 4 months, I didn't realize how much I had grown or, perhaps, it was the fact that I had missed out on so many changes in my family that made me feel foreign. Nevertheless, home is where you find your heart to be most at ease, and to have the opportunity to call two places "home" is a great feeling. 

9. Learning to be independent is the key to success.

It’s the best feeling in the world to finally have the power to make decisions for yourself. It’s frightening, but thrilling at the same time. In college, you can’t count on other people to wake you up for class, cook your meals, make sure you eat, or do your laundry for you. You’re on your own. It’s time for you to leave your comfort zone, whether you like it or not. 

10. Listen to your body and trust your instinct.

This applies to everything from partying, studying, sleeping, to drinking, relationships, and exercising. You, yourself, are the only that knows when enough is enough. If you’re pushing yourself to the brink of destruction, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The secret is to find the perfect balance between all of these things.

Everything is good in moderation; therefore, don’t abuse the liberties that you get in college just because you can. Don’t skip classes just because your friends are doing it, don’t stay up all night binge-watching Netflix, and, please, don't take that last shot if you know you can't handle it. Respect and listen to your body, and most importantly know that you always have the option to say no.

11. Don't be afraid of change.

Change is constant.  There isn't an answer to every little thing in life, but what I can tell you is that change is a part of a healthy life. If you have doubts about your major, don't be afraid to change it. If you have doubts about your relationship, don't be afraid to change the thing that's bothering you. If you're unsure about your friendships, don't be afraid to go your own way. It's okay to change your mind.

Having said all of these things, I hope that I have better enabled you to transition into your freshman year of college like a pro. Hopefully, I have been successful in my attempt to empower all of you and best of luck to you all.