Ask a College Freshman

Age is irrelevant when it comes to personality, interesting ideas and style. Who’s to say that a high schooler can’t pen one of your new favorite twitter accounts, that a grandmother can’t inspire the runway (or that the runway can’t inspire a grandmother). Just a few weeks ago a 10-year-old redefined play clothes and an “actual” millennial taught us new words.

Then there is the college freshman, someone whose entire first year is about discovery, independence, education and transition all while learning to balance a rigid class schedule without immediately giving in to the university-branded sweatpants.

Meet Emma Hager, homesick for sundresses. You may recognize her from our robust and growing comments sections.

Name: Emma Hager

Age: 18

School: McGill University

Major: English Literature

1 . On a scale of “What are my parents’ names again?” to “When is the next flight out of here?” — how homesick are you?

Full disclosure: I am not missing my family all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but SPACE, you know? I am counting down the days until winter break only because I want to sink my teeth into a cheap, greasy Carnitas burrito. And cuddle with my dog.

2. What’s been the hardest adjustment so far?

Time-management. There really is no one chaperoning your study time or critiquing your work ethic, so it’s really easy to get caught up in the moment when exams seem so far on the horizon. Weeks move dangerously quickly, too.

3. How has your approach to getting dressed changed since moving in to college?

The style aspect of college has been one of the toughest for me. I left the majority of my wardrobe at home  —  mainly because most of it is unfit for arctic winters  —  and I am getting really bored of wearing jeans, a tee, and my coat. I miss my funky, printed dresses that the temperate, California climate allowed me to wear year-round.

4. How has it changed your outlook on style?

I am beginning to realize the functionality of style. Previously, my outlook had very little to do with necessity. Now style is a vessel for getting from point A to point B.

5. Not to sound like Cady Heron’s mom but have you made friends? Are people nice?

I’ve met a lot of nice people! I am solidifying friendships slowly but surely. Meeting people is the easy part. The harder part is finding people you want to reach out to that second and third time. Funny how so many people disappear after what I call the First Week Frenzy.

6. What’s one thing you’ve encountered so far that you did not expect?

It sounds silly because I am, after all, attending an institution of higher education, but: the seriousness of the work load. When people say college is a lot of reading, a lot of studying, do not underestimate them.

7. What’s your favorite class/teacher and why?

My favorite class this semester is actually my computer science class. I am working toward a degree in English Literature (I’ve become hardened to jokes about lack of job opportunities, so keep ‘em coming), but I wanted to take a basic computer science course because I feel like it’s a subject matter so fundamental to being a global citizen these days.

8. What are (sorry for this) “all the kids” wearing at your school?

There are some terribly stylish humans at my school. Both male and female. There are many intimidating French girls here, too. They stand outside the library and smoke together, clad in their Nike Air Force 1s, well-fitting jeans, and cocoon-y jackets. Man buns and Stan Smiths are also ubiquitous.

9. Any new trending words that we should start awkwardly jamming into our vocabulary immediately?

Ha, I actually haven’t heard anything! I’ve noticed that people laugh at some of my “slang” terms, though! The other night I was at dinner and said: “That meal was so dank,” and I had to explain that it is a term used by many California teenagers (fine, stoners) to describe good food/things.

10. What’s the most fun thing you’ve done so far at school?

I went on a backpacking trip the first weekend of school and that was so magical. I met a lot of amazing people and we just chilled in the woods, swam in the lake, told stories by the campfire. It was a great way to actually connect with people. I find it hard to connect in a meaningful way at parties.

11. What’s it like living with a roommate?

Living with roommates is a new experience for me, obviously. There’s a lot of estrogen in a confined space, and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t tension at times. We are all so different — ideologically, socially, etc — but we still get along.

My motto is this: You do you, but always pick up after yourself and be mindful of others’ needs and space.

12. Piece of advice for annoying applying to colleges right now?

Go into the application process with no expectations. I know it’s hard when you’re in the moment and you want nothing more than to attend your dream school. I am at the exact opposite type of institution that I had originally wanted to attend. For the longest time I had this romanticized vision of myself at a small, rural liberal arts college. Then when I was admitted to several and I visited I was like: Oh, shit, not only are these schools really expensive, but they’re REALLY small.

Finances ultimately played a large part in my decision, and I’ve realized it’s all about attitude. You can make your experience what you want, anywhere you go.

Get through the applications process and don’t take things too personally. Often it’s a lottery.

13. What are the most valuable things you’ve learned about a. fashion b. independence c. education since you started school?

A. Wear layers. Functionality of fashion is highly important.

B. Let loose but remain dignified.

C. Treasure the privilege of acquiring esoteric knowledge. That’s only our sole responsibility for such a small fraction of our lives.