Going back to school can be scary and overwhelming, but it can also be invigorating and inspiring. Despite the often intimidating nature of starting classes, there are so many reasons to be grateful for the opportunity to start a new semester at the University.
1. Establishing a new morning routine
Did you hate the way you started your days last semester — rushed, panicked and barely making it to class on time? The start of the new semester is a chance to learn from your past mistakes. Sticking to a routine early in the semester can make the transition back to school more smooth. Hopefully, establishing a great routine early in the semester will allow it to stay with you for the duration of the year, even as the semester gets busier and your responsibilities grow.
2. Enjoying the honeymoon phase of classes
There is nothing I love more than a whole class session devoted to going over the syllabus and course expectations. Even better, I usually feel extra positive about my classes at the beginning of the semester — before the chaos of exams and papers enter the picture. Relishing these feelings of excitement about your classes is essential to the start of the year. It’s not until later in the semester that you might realize you might not be as enthralled with a course as you previously thought.
3. The refreshed energy of and the excitement of first years is contagious
Seeing all the first years on Grounds reminds me of the overwhelming and exciting feelings I had at the start of my first year last fall. Viewing life at the University through the wondrous eyes of first years is not only fun and nostalgic, but also a great way to reflect on the progress you have made since your first year at the University and to feel reinvigorated to take advantage of all that the University has to offer. Back-to-school energy is everywhere, and it is powerful.
4. It is the perfect time to join a new club
Speaking of taking advantage of everything that the University has to offer, challenge yourself to find a new club to join on Grounds. Finding a new hobby might just be the thing you need to feel enlivened to start a brand new year. From personal experience, I found that many of the clubs that I anticipated enjoying turned out not to be my thing, and that is okay, too. Thankfully, clubs expect lots of new members — even if it is just on a temporary basis — during this time of year.
5. Organizing new school supplies
Nothing beats opening a fresh ballpoint pen and feeling it effortlessly glide over a sheet of paper for the first time. Labeling my notebooks with the titles of my courses and color coding my planner similarly fill my heart with happiness. While you may not share my intense love for school supplies, there is still something special about organizing for a new school year. I believe finding joy in these tiny things contributes to a grander manifestation of a happy semester and a happy life.
6. The days are still long, making evenings after class extra lovely
While you may dread having to go to class and do homework, at least it is not dark and cold outside. The beautiful — albeit hot — Charlottesville weather in August and September is enough to lift my spirits after a long day of classes. I cherish these evenings with sunlight lasting until well into the 7 o’clock hour because come winter, the bleak weather can take a toll on my happiness. Try eating your dinner outside to appreciate this gift from the start of the fall semester.
7. Finding a new favorite class
Sometimes you have a class that you despise and sometimes you have a class that you adore. Once I find a class that I really love — like the Introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality course I took last spring — it feels like nothing will ever top it. I can assure you that you will find a course that you feel passionate about again this semester. Add and drop deadlines vary by school, but they provide sufficient time for you to try a class and decide it is not for you. What is more exciting than learning something new about yourself and the world around you?
8. Reconnecting with old and new friends
One of my favorite things about getting back into the swing of things is recognizing people from previous classes who are once again in my classes. These mini-reunions are so thrilling — some of the best bonds are formed over the shared struggle of a tough class. If you find yourself without noticing a friendly-face in the crowd, it is also the ideal time to introduce yourself and make new friends in your classes.
9. Learning feels exciting and new again
I may be overly optimistic here, and although I am sure I will be drowning in work in a matter of days, I still feel there is truth here. After taking the summer off from school, it is enjoyable to feel my brain work differently again. I seek the sense of accomplishment and routine that I derive from the school year, and it is my hope that approaching this semester with an upbeat attitude will ease some of the stress associated with the chaos otherwise known as being a college student.
10. A clean slate is a gift — embrace it.
No matter what happened last semester, beginning a new year is a chance to begin again. Some of us may feel apprehensive about what this semester holds, and others may feel super enthusiastic about it. Wherever you lie in this wide range of emotions, I am wishing you a beautiful semester of learning, growing and flourishing. You just might surprise yourself with the infinite possibilities for making this semester the best one yet.