Important issues to face in the college experience

by Vista Kalipa

The college experience is a time of new beginnings and many wonderful experiences, and bad ones too. It is however, up to each one of us to make the best decisions, as far as choosing what is best for us.

This is a time of self-discovery and it can be quite overwhelming at times. As a new member of the college community, you’ll find that things are a bit different from what you’re used to. First of all:

* You’ll realize that this environment requires a sense of ownership. You need to make it your own by taking care of it and by making it more conducive for you and those around you.

* You will be expected to make your own decisions without consulting your parents, as those decisions will affect your future.

* You’ll find that there’ll be no one here to do your laundry or to tell you when to do it. It is absolutely at your own discretion when you do it. I personally recommend that you do it at least fortnightly (every two weeks). Otherwise you’ll be the kid that everybody whispers about when you enter the room, and you might even end up on my column under the pseudonym, “skank-a-teer.”

* You’ll find yourself bombarded with all kinds of temptation. Therefore, self-control and self-discipline are essential tools for survival during your college career.

* Remember, you are here to learn and to grow as a person. So please, make those your priorities and the rest should be secondary.

There are also other issues that tend to affect college students, such as the changes we go through during our college experiences. As mentioned earlier, self-discovery is one of those issues. During this time, some students feel a connection with their spiritual selves and tend to explore that connection. For those who feel this kind of connection but don’t really know who to talk to, help is available in Smith Chapel for students of any religious affiliation.

Also during this process of self-discovery, some students struggle with issues of self-identity and coming out. For those students battling with such issues, help and support are also available through the office of Student Development.

Substances such as alcohol and other drugs may be offered to you at some point. You’ll need to learn to start saying “NO!” if you don’t want to, and you’ll need to learn when to stop should you find yourself giving in to such temptations.

Sex tends to be on the rise among college campuses. If you are a sexually active person, it is imperative that you take all the necessary precautions.

If you’re a girl:

* Make sure that you are well protected from unwanted pregnancies by always having at least two un-expired condoms in your purse.

* Make sure that you are always with a friend when going to parties where alcohol will be consumed.

If you’re a guy:

* Make sure that you always have condoms in your room and carry, at minimum, four in your wallet at all times.

* Make sure that the condoms have not expired and that they’re not exposed to high temperatures, as expired and overexposed condoms tend to break easily and put you and your partner at a high risk.

If you’re an orally active person (of course I mean sexually), please take a moment to think about what you’re getting yourself into. There are too many STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) out there, so it is best to protect yourselves from them.

Also, contrary to popular belief, you DO stand a chance of catching HIV through oral sex. To stay safe, STRAP IT ON & STAY ALIVE!

Last word: The college experience can be quite daunting for new students. It is therefore imperative that we take care of ourselves and stick to our moral values. It is of paramount importance that we seek help should we find ourselves overwhelmed.