For this installment of coffee talk, we're revisiting the most important lesson(s) we learned in college, outside of the classroom—which is fresher for one of us, but has remained with all of us despite the time that's passed (even after our knowledge of 18th-century American literature long since faded).
Emily: I found that I was a lot more independent than I'd given myself credit for. Up until college, I'd rarely been away from my parents for more than a couple of days. I was the kid who consistently had to call her dad to pick her up from slumber parties in the middle of the night, opted out of sleep-away camps, and was overwhelmed by the concept of living away from home. But after my first night in the dorm, I felt such a rush knowing that not only did I want to stay, but relished in the idea of becoming an independent adult. To this day if I find an opportunity to be scary or intimidating, I'm reminded that it usually means it's the right choice to make.
Geoffrey: The biggest lesson I learned was that most people couldn't care less about what you did/did not accomplish in your previous (i.e. high school) life, rather, they judge you based on your current status, which is why first impressions are so important. I knew people who were incredible athletes when they entered college, convinced their prowess and popularity would carry over, only to be humbled by even more skilled players. Conversely, I knew people who were social pariahs that completely reinvented themselves, transforming into incredibly charismatic and engaging individuals. In today's connected world, you rarely get a chance to introduce yourself to someone without them having some sort of context or image of who you are, but having control over how you represent yourself in person is the most important aspect of developing a meaningful and lasting impact.
Alina: This is tough because I feel like pretty much all of college is one big out-of-classroom life lesson, to the point where it's hard to pick a single one. But I do remember freshman year being the first time I realized I had more in common with people of older generations than I knew was in store for me growing up. People older than me had always been in a category of their own—like a different species altogether, the way adults typically are to teenagers. It was in college my first year that I realized people like my teachers, my parents, and my friends' parents, and I were all one and the same. That they hadn't ever been so "other," after all, and I could relate to them in our shared humanity. It was a pretty profound, eye-opening realization for me.
Leslie: I learned that snacks are extremely important, Skype is not a feasible way to maintain a relationship with a high school boyfriend, having friends who live all over the world will save you a lot of money on travel down the line, it's possible to make instant mac 'n cheese without a stove or microwave if you believe in yourself, and that my hometown represents a very, very small corner of the world.