“Legally Blonde” (2001), “Neighbors” (2014) and “American Pie 2” (2001) are just a few examples of Hollywood’s many attempts to portray an unrealistic stereotype of college life. Of all the phases we experience throughout our lives, from learning how to read to seeing our grandchildren grow up, many claim that college is by far the best out of them all. “It will be the best four years of your life,” my family said. Growing up, all I cared about was working as hard as I possibly could to get into a prestigious university; I was more than ready to experience the most unforgettable and thrilling four years of my life. You can imagine my disappointment as I began my first few weeks as a first-year when I slowly realized that college life was not even remotely similar to how Hollywood movies and my relatives had depicted it. The ultimate truth is that the four years you spend in college might be the best of your life but they also might not.
Everyone has a different experience in college. These years are ultimately defined by the relationships you create with others, student social events or even the classes you choose to take. Hollywood has, for years on end now, encouraged students to create completely outdated and unrealistic expectations for their future college experience. Even more for international students, such as myself, college seemed like a four-year-long, wild roller coaster. In reality, the years you spend in college are just like any other phase in your life. Much like how many people reflect on high school, college is a place where some met their oldest friends and had the most memorable experiences they could ever imagine. In short, your college experience is entirely what you decide to make of it.
I remember when I watched “Neighbors 2” (2016) for the first time in high school and obtained this illusion that Greek life was an enormous part of what made a college experience unforgettable: beer kegs, red disposable party cups, amazing music and 200 people crammed in a small basement. When I attended my first frat party, I was very surprised to find out that the only true part of what I had envisioned was the cramming of 200 college students in a single house basement. Although Greek life can play an important part in someone’s college experience, many people find value through other parts of the college experience. For me, what is making my four years impactful is having the opportunity to learn about topics I am truly interested in through a multitude of different classes.
Maintaining this idea that college has to be the best four years of your life is just another way for society to control your experiences. Deciding to let go of that pressure and just embracing college life as it is for you is key to truly acquiring a growth-filled and enthralling four years. When you look back at your undergraduate career, whether you define it as the best time of your life or not, you will always have the memories of how you became the person you are today.