By Máire Nakada
Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2015
As the first semester of my freshman year at the University of South Alabama comes to an end, I’ve come to realize that I’ve learned so many things about myself that I didn’t know before. When I imagined my college life I didn’t think it would be anything like it is now. My initial idea was that I’d move in and become best friends with my roommate, meet some handsome guy playing ultimate frisbee on the second day of classes, and everything was just going to work out for me. This has not been the case. College is filled with so many new challenges and different types of people you have to learn to work with. This Alaskan girl had no idea what to think about college in the south except that it would be hot and humid. At least I got that part right.
First of all, let’s clear up one thing: I do love my roommate. She thinks I’m funny, she has the best taste in music, and we both love coffee. We are two very different people but somehow that has worked out ok. The handsome guy playing ultimate frisbee? I was looking for him in the beginning but you know what? After a few dates I’ve found that I’m super content being single. I currently don’t have romantic relationships on my top priority list and that’s ok. The way I see it is this: when it’s supposed to happen it will happen. If I go searching for a guy I’ll be wasting my time and time is precious when you have a busy schedule.
Academic-wise college is tough but hard work will get you a long way. I know I’m not a naturally smart person that can just cruise through classes so I make myself study even when a nap sounds so much better. It can be difficult seeing friends who take fewer credits or less challenging classes going off and doing fun things all the time while you head off to study until 3 AM but when I remind myself why it’s worth it to study so hard I don’t mind as much. I do strongly dislike long lectures though. Sometimes I think about propping my eyelids open Mr. Bean style to make it through them but I haven’t been able to find toothpicks anywhere on campus…
The best thing about college is you are in charge of your schedule. The worst thing about college is that everything is up to you. You have to motivate yourself to do the things that are important to you. This can be hard when there are two research papers due along with a math test and a speech all in the same day. Planners, calendars, and alarm clocks are your best friend. However, I am definitely guilty of choosing to lay on my bed and stare at the map on my wall daydreaming about all the places I want to travel to while ignoring the list of things I know I should be doing.
All in all, college has been a new experience that I’m still learning how to master. I’ve met a lot of different people and have made some close friends with people who always have something interesting to say. What I expected from going to college in the south was people in cowboy boots wrestling alligators and southern bells floating around campus while the sun dried us out like worms. I was wrong about the alligator wrestling and surprisingly Alabama gets kind of cold at night in the winter. I’m excited to be finished with finals and head home to Alaska for Christmas break but I’m also excited for what next semester will bring. I know what to expect but I’m also ready to be introduced to new challenges and new people. So I’ll leave you with this lovely picture.
Máire Nakada is a college freshman at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Máire was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2015. Learn more about Máire here!