New Month, New Stressors, New Strategies

Dear First Year Students,

It’s February and, although it’s technically the shortest month of the year, it somehow feels like the longest. Football season is over and the cold may tempt you to stay indoors which makes this month feel like a stagnant period. You’ve finally settled into your new classes, but just as you’re getting the hang of things, a multitude of new stressors have wriggled their way into your life. Suddenly, it’s time to start applying for internships and scholarships. Your friends have begun discussing roommate situations for next fall and many people have already signed leases to off-campus apartments. Juggling all of this in addition to the foreboding holiday of Valentine’s Day looming in the air can lead February to be an anxiety-filled month.  Having experienced all of these things, however, has led me to realize it’s not as bad as you think. Each of these problems and situations that arise in February is experienced by a lot of people and most importantly have solutions.

What stressed me out the most during this month of my first year was the roommate situation. It seemed like every single person I talked to had found someone to live with in the fall. I was confused because it was only February. Why was everything happening so fast? I didn’t even know who I wanted to live with yet, much less where. Getting my dirty laundry off the floor and into the basket was currently all I had thought about in terms of living situations but it seemed like every other day students were signing leases or at least had a group of people they planned to live with. I believed I needed to grab the first person I saw on the street and sign a lease with them. I can’t stress enough how not alone you are in this panicky feeling. You can go on the student ticket exchange Facebook page to see this in live action. There are tons of posts from students looking for roommates. Don’t feel as though you’re the only person in the world who hasn’t found someone to live with and don’t feel obligated to keep a promise to live with someone that you made the previous fall. Situations change and, with such a large student body like Alabama, your roommate is out there so don’t feel as though you need to settle for the first person who asks you to live with them. Most importantly, take your time when trying to decide where and with whom you’d like to live. There are lots of options such as staying on-campus again, applying to be an RA, or choosing to live off-campus. Find which one is right for you by exploring every option.

Along with trying to find a perfect roommate you may also feel the stress of trying to find the perfect internship. If you have professors like mine, every other day they’re sending you emails with applications for different internships. It can be incredibly overwhelming because, again, it feels too soon. My advice is to read every email you see because your professor or offices wouldn’t be sending it to you if it wasn’t a great opportunity. Also, make sure you are distinguishing between real internships and faux-internships. Faux-internships can be emailed from sketchy sources claiming to have wonderful opportunities inside but are really phishing hacks. Always make sure that whatever you apply to is a credible source that can be traced back to a real offer. Another piece of advice is to talk to your advisors so that they can help you not only apply for internships but also determine when is the best time for you to start one. During this busy time, you may also be getting emails about scholarship opportunities. Just like with the internships, distinguish between the real and the fake. Most of these scholarships will have a deadline around the end of March which give you time to complete the application and work on submitting your best work.

Finally, this month contains the holiday that can either make you feel like the most special person on earth or one of the loneliest. Valentine’s Day is only one day out of the entire month but it can still leave you feeling sad or melancholy unless you have a whole new attitude about it. Being single can be a great way to spend this day with your friends going out to a fun dinner or staying in and watching a movie. This holiday doesn’t always have to do with romantic relationships, take some time to focus on other types of relationships by calling your family or Facetiming your best friend from home. There is also always the option to completely ignore it, which is my personal strategy.


Roll Tide,

Irene Richardson

Contributor of Tuscaloosa Community