As the “back to school” excitement wanes with the arrival of midterms and cooler weather, I have often found myself reflecting on my past semesters here at Furman. Though the cliche “time flies” is overused and tired, its applicability here is hard to overlook — I cannot believe I am in the midst of my junior year. And while my time in the classroom has taught me valuable lessons, the things I have learned outside the academic setting — away from homework assignments and projects — appear equally as important, especially as my remaining time at Furman begins to lessen. While I am no authoritative source, I thought that my takeaways might be helpful to those just beginning their careers at Furman, or perhaps even some older Paladins looking for advice. So here are my five biggest takeaways from exactly ~2.33 years at Furman University:

1. Give your friends a hug

No matter where you live, far away or just down the road, we can all relate to missing our friends and family from home. But this separation, while sad, should be viewed as an opportunity to build new, strong relationships here at Furman — a chance to find our own Furman family. As cheesy as it sounds, my friends have become my second family. I have it all: annoying brothers and sisters, responsible parents, family infighting, but throughout it all a strong and pervasive care for one another. These people are my home away from home. So here is your gentle reminder to find and to recognize those people in your life, the people you are grateful for, and to give them a hug. Reminding important people that you care about them and appreciate them is never a wasted exercise, and will probably provide you as much happiness as it will hopefully bestow upon them. 

2. Be grateful for your down-time 

Furman is a busy and hectic place. Between classes, extracurricular activities, jobs, homework, and friends and family, there is simply not enough time in the day to do it all. I think this ecosystem of business is why, personally, down-time often feels wrong — I think lots of us can relate to that, actually. And while it seems as though there is always something to check off the list and get done while in college, downtime should be savored and appreciated, not squandered away under the guise of productivity. Use the little time you get here and there to rest and relax. Focus on yourself, take a nap, or do something’ll definitely reap the benefits down the road! 

3. Go for a lake walk

This goes along with my point above. It is important to give yourself a breather, and the perfect way to do this is by going for a walk around Furman's beautiful lake — two miles, if you only do one loop. We are lucky; right now, can enjoy ourselves or get into nature without leaving campus. Once we graduate, that might no longer be the case, so seize the day and take a friend, or simply yourself, on a lake walk. Relax, clear your mind, stretch those legs; just get out of the dorm and away from the desk. Especially as the weather gets cooler and the leaves start changing, lake walks are easy activities ripe for engagement. Plus, you can hang out with the ducks! 

4. Email was created for a reason

My high school had a rigorous course load, but not as rigorous as Furman. I never needed to email my professors to schedule meetings or request help on an assignment. That quickly changed when I came to Furman. Here, I have learned the value of communication, whether it be in-person or via. Email. Professors want to help — and let’s face it, most of us could use a boost — so make sure to connect with professors through email. On the flip side, check your emails. Do not be the kid who “didn’t read it.” Outlook should become your best friend for check-ins, scheduling, and’s a part of your life now, get used to it. 

5. This isn’t like a movie

Legally Blonde, 22 Jump Street, Neighbors.... Hollywood movies set on college campuses tend to leave viewers with unrealistic expectations for their own college experiences. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but college isn’t a constant party, and your first-year roommate may not be your best friend. In truth, I  did not know what to expect when I first drove through Furman’s gates, but I was not expecting a blockbuster movie — that awareness was a big help in acclimating to actual college life. Papers are a grind, sometimes the food is bad, and parties are not 24/7, nor do you have to be constantly engaged in activities. Your college experience, while shared with others, is entirely yours to craft as you like. So drop any stereotypical expectations of what college “should” be, and instead carve your own path. It will be much more enjoyable that way, I promise.