College: there is nothing else like it. No television shows, movies, Youtube videos or books can possibly prepare you for what it’s like living on your own for the first time. Your experience at the University of Wisconsin is going to be beyond hard for you to attempt to explain to your friends from home, in part because there is no other school this special. So, congrats — you made it here!

But, be aware that your experience is what you make of it, and sometimes you have to focus on living in the moment rather than comparing everything to the expectations you’ve acquired from Hollywood, Instagram and weird fratty-themed websites of what college should look and feel like.

Following is a list of some of those expectations that can quickly be debunked:

Expectation

Partying is a constant thing. If you don’t party, why did you go to college? We’ve been ranked the #1 party school, right?

Reality

Every student at UW studies a lot and tries their best to maintain their grades. If you’re not studying, all of your friends will be, so you might as well join them. You are about to receive an education from one of the top universities in the world. Also, there are many different activities to participate in on campus that do not involve partying such as student organizations and intramural sports. Badgers always find a way to have fun, whether it’s at a party or not!

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Expectation

For better or for worse – no parents!

Reality

True, but not quite. Your mom will call you at random times during the day just to tell you how she got her nails done or some other completely insignificant item she picked up from the grocery store because her Empty Nester’s Syndrome will kick in immediately after you’re gone. She’ll ask you how your day is and what you’ve been up to only hours after you finished unpacking. And your parents will Facetime you at the worst times possible, just when you thought that you’d finally convinced them not to do that.

Expectation

Living in a dorm with thousands of other freshman can’t be that gross.

Reality

Yes it can.

Four words: Spiders in the shower! Make sure you wear your shower shoes.

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Expectation

Your RA’s will be super strict and intimidating.

Reality

Most RA’s are pretty chill, helpful and nice. Keep in mind that they are also students, so they actually do have lives, and it’s going to be super weird when you see them out in public instead of brushing their teeth in the dorms. They might also be so kind as to help you unlock your door when it’s two in the morning and you forgot your key (thanks, Adam!).

Expectation

You and your roommate will become the best of friends!

Reality

Hard to comment on that because everyone has different experiences, but I can go ahead and say: Don’t get your hopes up! And if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the biggest deal. 

Expectation

You’ll meet all of your best friends within the first month.

Reality

You’ll hangout with large groups of people whose names you won’t remember for at least a month. You’ll add way too many random people on Snapchat right away. You will slowly realize that your real friends are the people you’ll meet in class, through Greek life, through clubs and possibly on accident/ in really random situations.

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Expectation

You’ll have your major figured out before the first day of classes starts and you’ll definitely continue down that path, no matter what happens.

Reality

HAHAHAHA. Just wait and see.

Expectation

You won’t gain the “freshman fifteen.” You will eat pretty healthy or at least healthy-ish and you will willingly work out on at least a semi-regular basis.

Reality

Yes, there are lots of temptations: Ian’s, PDR, Gotham bagels, food trucks, cheese curds, Babcock ice cream, late night fries, Sushi Express, just to name a few. And finding the motivation to work out after a full day of classes/work/homework is super tough. But having fun at UW is the most important, and if that means skipping a couple workouts and eating three too many slices of Ian’s, then have the time of your life. Finding people who support you and love you even when you do skip out on that 8 a.m. pilates class is way more important than keeping off a few extra pounds, anyways.

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Expectation

You’ll always get to your morning classes on time. You woke up at 7 a.m. for high school, right?

Reality

If your “morning” classes start at 10 a.m., you’ll probably be on time — most of the time. But if your SOAR advisor convinced you that a 7:555 a.m. is “doable”,  you will almost certainly sleep through a lecture or discussion and wake up in a full blown panic at least once… or twice. And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to drag yourself out of bed in December when it’s cold, dark and you’re really sick of learning about animal biology at 9 am. 

Expectation

You’ll have everything figured out pretty quickly.

Reality

No one will ever have everything figured out. When it comes to doing well in class, finding a club that suits your interests, or meeting new people, it can become discouraging at times when things don’t seem to fall into place immediately, but all you can do is trust the process and keep trying.

Expectation

You’ll have the time of your life at tailgates and sporting events.

Reality

You’ll have the time of your life at tailgates and sporting events. It’s great going to a school that has an outstanding athletic program. U rah rah!

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Expectation

Writing for the Badger Herald sounds cool and fun. You would like to get involved because you think you’ll enjoy it.

Reality

You’re right, the Badger Herald is cool and awesome! You should definitely reach out to any one of the editors or staff writers for more information.

Jill Kazlow ([email protected]) is a sophomore intending to major in journalism.