My Freshman year of college is officially over and it was seriously one of the best experiences of my entire life. Although it felt as if I was completely unprepared for it all, it was actually an easier transition than I thought it would be. Living on your own and being independent comes quite naturally. BUT… there are a few things that I wish I would have known prior to moving up to BYU-Idaho. These are things that worked best for me/things I learned during my college experience so hopefully they’re just as helpful to you!
CATEGORY #1: THE GOSPEL
If you go up to this school with an open heart, you are guaranteed a stronger testimony and a gained surplus of knowledge about the gospel. Make sure that you do all you can to immerse yourself in the gospel. Sure, social life and academics may seem to “get in the way” sometimes, but never let that it take over your life! If you put the Lord first in all things, I promise you the rest of your life, no matter how stressful or busy it may seem, will fall into place.
1) GO TO TUESDAY DEVOTIONALS: (Above) Seriously, these were the highlights of my week! Every Tuesday a little past two o’clock are the weekly devotionals. You will learn SO much as you go each week! The Spirit there is so incredibly strong and all the talks given are inspired. Sometimes we even have the privilege of hearing an Apostle of the Lord speak. Go with a good group of friends who you know won’t distract you or draw away from the Spirit that’s there. Also, BRING A NOTEBOOK. The Spirit will teach you as you write down notes and thoughts that touched your heart. Devo is a place where all your worries and stresses can be set aside and you can just focus on being spiritually uplifted. It is the best thing ever.
2) GO TO CHURCH AND FULFILL YOUR CALLINGS: Whether you are the ward chorister, the relief society secretary, or a gospel doctrine teacher, FULFILL YOUR CALLING. I can’t even begin to explain to you the blessings that pour into your life as you faithfully serve the Lord. If you are serving with people or over people, your life will be changed. You will feel a love for them that you never was even possible to feel. Church up at BYU-I is quite different but still absolutely amazing. The same Spirit of truth is there wherever you go. Also, do your visiting teaching! It might some hard some months because of your busy schedule, but just do it! You life will be blessed and the love for the people you teach and serve with will grow immensely.
3) GO TO THE TEMPLE: This is something I wish I would have taken advantage of a little bit more while I was up there. There was a reason the temple was built there! We are in desperate need of it as college students. It is such a beautiful place to escape from all of your worldly cares and just spend time reflecting, studying, and growing closer to the Lord. The Spirit in the Rexburg temple is ridiculously strong. You can feel of the love of the Savior there embrace you as you walk in the doors. It is often very busy in the mornings and especially on the weekends! My tip to you would be to find a place during the week that works with your schedule and allows you to go often! Again, nothing but blessings will flow into your life if you attend the temple regularly. Not only are you blessing your life, but the lives of those beyond the veil.
4) SCRIPTURE STUDY: Do not… oh my heavens… DO NOT stop having personal daily scripture study and prayer. This was my lifeline through college. College is a time (if you haven’t already) to start developing habits you want personally in the future and habits you want to have with your future family. I can’t even tell you how important it is so continue to study, read, and pray every single day. College is new, exciting, and fun, but don’t let it all distract you from spending time with the Lord. This is a time of great decision, so keep your relationship with God and the Spirit strong!
CATEGORY #2: THE SCHOOL
1) CLASSES: Everywhere you go on campus you can feel the Spirit of the Lord. Every class starts with an opening prayer and sometimes even a hymn (depending on your professor). The gospel is intertwined into all of the course material. It’s wonderful to hear your teachers go from teaching you about specific subject to testifying of the truthfulness of the gospel. It is a beautiful thing! Do not take your schooling lightly! You are spending your money and time to increase you knowledge and to learn knew and wonderful things. Immerse yourself in the schoolwork! Listen to your professors! You academic and spiritual knowledge will increase exponentially as you attend class each day.
One thing I wish I would have done more often was gotten to know my classmates better. Pretty much everyone you’re surrounded by is a genuinely good person, so take the time to talk to them and get out of your comfort zone! I’m such a chill person sometimes that I didn’t even take the effort to do it (I know, I’m lame) but if you do so you’ll make new friendships with some awesome people.
2) TESTING CENTER: I actually found the testing center to be one of my favorite places on campus. I don’t even know why… it was some how soothing. Make sure your cell phone is off and you are dressed appropriately. Don’t worry if you do bad on your tests… as long as you are a good student and finish ALL of your assigned homework, essays, projects, etc. you will do great! At least that’s how it worked for me….
3) HONOR CODE: Okay, this is like my favorite subject. My biggest advice to you is, HONOR THE HONOR CODE. No joke. No bad language, no immodesty, no dishonesty, no immorality, no substance abuse…. just follow it! You will find yourself a much happier, more comfortable person if you do so! Blessings will come as obey it. And don’t only follow the honor code on campus… follow it as you’re off it too! And girls, BIG advice to you (in the words of President Clark): LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. TIGHTS ARE ESPECIALLY NOT PANTS. I’ve actually seen girls wearing them in the MC who were told to go home and change. President Clark also made an announcement during devotional once about the too short of lengths of our skirts/dresses. Make sure that they are to your knees or longer!Don’t look at the honor code as a big list of restrictions. Look at it as inspired words from our Priesthood leaders who have been called of God. I know that some of the things about the honor code might just seem ridiculous, but I promise you divine blessings will come to you as you honor it. Obedience brings blessings but perfect obedience brings about miracles. The Spirit will be so much more abundant in your life as you are obedient to the rules. Obedience is freedom, the truth will set you free!
CATEGORY #3: THE PEOPLE
1) FRIENDS: You will meet people and make some of the most amazing friends you will ever have while up at college. Some people I thought I could never be friends with became some of my most meaningful friends I have ever had. From your roommates, to your FHE family, to people in your ward and in your classes… everyone is amazing! Just take the chance to get to know them and your life will be changed. All my life my Heavenly Father has blessed me with the most amazing people in my life, but while in college, it amplified even more! The people I became friends with changed my life forever. I learned so much from each person individually.
2) ROOMMATES: I would totally offer you some advice on what to do when you get stuck with the “bad” roommates but that never happened to me so sorry. My only encouraging words to you is to maintain your standards no matter what and keep serving them until you love them.
Me on the other hand… well I had the best roommates ever! Mine were so amazing it wasn’t even fair. First semester I was with Kate, Amy, and Judith and second semester I was with Amy, Kate, Brittany, Judy, and Kaley. THEY WERE WONDERFUL. We seriously all got along so wonderfully. We spent time together and hung out with each other ever day. We all had similar standards and supported each other in all the decisions we made. These girls were all valiant daughters of God who loved the Lord and kept His commandments. What more could you ask for?
CATEGORY #4: COLLEGE LIFE
1) GO ON ADVENTURES: College is kind of our “selfish” time. Go do what you want to do while you can! Go explore nature and all the beauty that Idaho has to offer. Whether that be a walk to the park or a day trip to Jackson Wyoming… JUST GO. I had fall/winter track so it was mainly freezing the entire time I was there, so take advantage of the warmer weather while you have it! Yellowstone is basically your backyard! Just whatever it is, get up and go! Don’t worry about all your unfinished homework and stuff you have to do. Go take some time for yourself and have fun.
2) EAT FOOD: The freshmen fifteen is real my friends. Okay, for the first semester it was exactly the opposite of that for me, but the second semester this phrase was reality. But my question is… SO WHAT? Rexburg is home to some of the most delicious food ever. Cocoa Bean, Shake Out, Sammy’s; these were some of my favorites. Just enjoy yourself while you can! Who cares if you gain some extra meat on your bones. I know I certainly didn’t.
Sidenote: There is a gym on campus in the Hart building and it is totally free. I went there faithfully almost everyday this last semester and it was a great stress-reliever and great way to start my day. Just because you’re eating out more often doesn’t mean you stop taking care of yourself! Also, R-Mountain is like 10 minutes away from campus and is a great workout!
3) THE WEATHER: Just as you’ve been told, REXBURG GETS COOOOOLD. And not like the, “Oh brrr, it’s chilly out here” but more like the “I can’t even breathe or talk or oh my gosh my nose hairs are frozen” kind of cold. It’s beautiful though. Sometimes you’ll just wake up in a white snowy blanket. The stillness that snow brings just calms me. It honestly isn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be! Just dress warm, like layers upon layers upon layers, and your body will just naturally adjust. Any who… college really is the bees knees you guys. You will learn, you will grow, and you will come out a stronger, better person if you allow yourself to do so. Have an open mind and open heart and you will grow so much. You will love people more intensely then you ever have before. Your love for your family will strengthen also! There is seriously no downsides to college. If you feel overwhelmed, just take the time to escape. Go on a walk. Go to the temple. Lock yourself in your room. Whatever works for you! Just breath deep. Eventually your “impossible” classes will end you’ll end up laughing about all the times you had those unnecessary freak-outs. Have fun! Try new things! Meet new people! Honor the honor code! Learn learn learn! Serve to your fullest capacity! And most importantly, put the Lord first in all things. I hope you enjoy BYU-I just as much as I did. I can’t wait to return and continue my schooling there. It is seriously one of the best universities out there.