The summer of 2010 could not have dragged on longer for me. I felt stifled in My Little Suburbia, eager to start attending college. I watched Daria reruns of Is It College Yet? to make sure someone empathized with me wanting the summer to be over with quickly. I was so ready to make a new life for myself, even though the college I ended up attending wasn’t my first choice.

I worked 20 hours a week, took a class at my university, and stalked Amazon and eBay for the best deals on textbooks and dorm décor. I moped around at home, burned out from my competitive high school, wondering if I had made the right decision all summer. I tried to stay positive—thinking more about living in a new city, making new friends, and having new experiences made me more and more excited to leave My Little Suburbia.

By August, I was itching to ship myself off to my university—I had my doubts and fears, but I was also sick of those “summers of nothing” that consisted of minimum wage jobs and sorting through the mess my room becomes every summer. The attractions in my town are the local mall, an overpriced fork and screen movie theater, and various chain restaurants. It gets old after a while, and I was ready to crawl out of my skin to discover new things for myself, living on my own for the first time in my life.

When I got to campus, I was surprised at how much trouble I had adjusting to my new life. I tried to keep up a positive attitude about it, but for a month I wasn’t happy with my classes or my school’s environment. I felt that I was getting lost in a sea of 30,000+ undergraduates and really wanted to find a place to call home, a community where people knew my name and knew what I loved.

I wish someone had told me that everything would be okay in the end. That college is what you make of it, and you eventually find your niche at college, even if where you end up attending wasn’t your first choice. I finally found my niche in two unexpected places: my sorority and the women’s residential college at my school. Finding my new home also made me appreciate what I left behind—my high school, my friends, old teachers, and family. I missed all of that because it shaped my unique experiences which I began to share with the incredible people I met.

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t rushed Summer 2010 away. I should have just relaxed before the college grind got to me, especially when I felt so burnt out from working really hard in high school. I didn’t realize that Summer 2010 might have really been the last summer we would all be together before we went off to establish our future careers with extra summer classes, internships, and study abroad. I haven’t seen some of my childhood friends at all this summer since we have all moved on towards different paths and endeavors.

Be excited for college, but don’t wish away these last few weeks. And whatever bad experiences you may have when you get to campus—it will always be okay in the end. Pick yourself up, keep smiling, and remember to breathe. College is an adventure, go along for the ride and have fun!

What are your hopes and fears for this next school year?

Dawn Angelicca Barcelona is a rising sophomore at Rutgers University majoring in English and Creative Writing. Among many things, she is a poet, dancer, green tea lover, and productive insomniac. She was a former Rutgers Admissions Student Blogger and  currently works at Follow her on Twitter @DawnAngelicca.