By Ananya Panchal

Exactly one year ago, I was sitting in a jeep on a safari in Kenya, obsessively refreshing my email to see if I got into Boston University. *Spoiler: I got in.*

I had spent the previous few days liking and commenting on every dream college-related post that filled my Instagram feed — and trust me, there were a LOT.

I’m going to be frank, BU was not my top choice. Hell, it wasn’t even second or third. But it turned out to be a good fit, and it was what I needed. That’s just one thing I’ve learned in the past year. Here are some others.

This is a big ass city, and I’m just a small ass person.

When I say small, I don’t just mean 5 feet 2 inches (barely) small. I mean California-suburban-bitch-in-a-new-city small. I hate to admit it, but all throughout my life before BU, I lived in a bubble.

You might have heard of that bubble — Silicon Valley — the STEM hub (no pun intended) of the United States, which means it lacks the following: humanities courses, single-parent households, systemic challenges and diversity of thought. Not to generalize!

Every damn person wanted to be an engineer, and every damn person had a 4.0. Excluding me, of course.

That’s right, I’m different.

Sometimes I wake up, and I question what I’m doing here, and why I’m so incredibly far from my home (and my dog). But then, I open my blinds (thank you Warren Towers, 17th floor view), and I take it all in. This IS a huge city and I’m not just a small person. I am a small person in this city.

I left my bubble. I knew I wanted a change, and I went out, and I got it. For that, I have no regrets.

You really are all on your own.

I don’t mean this to be as sad as it sounds. If you don’t want to go to class, don’t. If you don’t want to do your homework, don’t. If you don’t ever want to take a shower or do laundry or feed yourself, don’t. I mean you’ll be dirty and naked and hungry, but we’ve all been there at one point or another.

Your grades and your health may suffer, but at the end of the day, your success and well-being is completely up to you. That can be really overwhelming some of the time. But most of the time, it’s a really important challenge. Isn’t it time we all took some accountability for our lives? Um, yes! You are a grown ass, small person in a big city, remember?!

Your parent is not waking you up in the morning, and your professor is certainly not making sure you turn in your homework. You have to take care of yourself, and literally no one is here to control you, which can be a blessing and a curse in itself.

My best advice for this — which I really, really urge you to take to heart, especially because it is easier said than done —  is to put yourself first. If you really need to miss a class to study for an exam or catch up on sleep after an all-nighter (this one is more likely), then do it.

But look around you. There is so, so, so much opportunity to do great things, and NOW is your time. Anything you do, good or bad, you deserve full credit for. So embrace that. Celebrate the small victories, but don’t mourn the small losses — you won’t miss them, and there’s too many to count. So have fun with it.

Bring a lot of underwear (not everything has to be deep)

I learned this the hard way, or should I say, the gross way? As a college student, you do not have time to do laundry. And hey, it’s $3.50 a load WITHOUT the extra dry cycle. Laundry is a luxury. Bring enough underwear to last you two weeks, and maybe five more pairs just for the heck of it.

Another side note about laundry — don’t be the asshole who leaves their clothes in the washing machine far after its done. Get your stuff the hell out of there, or I will. I’ve warned you. I am waiting, and my time is precious. No one has enough of it.

COMMUNICATE

If your roommate is too loud, tell them. If your roommate has a special friend over every night and it bothers you, tell them.

Living alone in a new place with new people means you’re going to run into problems, and you need to talk those out. Just another perk of being on your own.

If you are having a personal emergency and cannot turn in that 10-page paper, tell your professor. They understand. In fact, they’re a lot more understanding than we expect them to be. They know what it’s like to be college students, but they also know what it’s like to be human and so damn imperfect all the time.

Now I’m not saying to abuse their empathy, but chances are, they will cut you some slack. They are here to help, and believe it or not, they want you to succeed, too. And they’re not the only ones willing to help you.

You have resources from mental health professionals to RAs, family members far away to across-the-hall neighbors who are willing to listen.

So, class of 2023, I’m not sure what adventures you have ahead of you, but I’m here to tell you everything is OK. And if it’s not, it will be. (I think?)

Enjoy where you are.

Boston is a gorgeous city home to a famous library, delicious food and a (relatively) working subway system. As a BU student, you have discounted student access to museums, plays, newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Bonus: you’re just a windy walk away from every kind of store, cuisine and community you can think of. So get creative. And leave the BU bubble, just like I left my own bubble.

All of this is at your fingertips. I know it’s daunting, and I know it seems like a lot.

A year ago, I was more overwhelmed that I had ever been, and to be honest, I still am sometimes.

But I’m here, and I’m happy.