Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Digital Diaries Season 4 Episode 1: Freshman live their lessons, outside of the classroom

What do I prioritize? Am I behind? These anxieties are common for many students during their first year of college. In this episode of Digital Diaries, Northwestern’s rising sophomores share the lessons they learned about these questions and more during their first year experiences, and how they’re using them now.

ELLA MARKS: There were some exams that maybe I felt as though I could’ve done a bit better and I was a little disappointed, but then I would take a step back and think about, “Well, I was able to go to this really cool event or spend some quality time with these people instead, and that’s more important to me on some levels than getting a slightly better grade.”

[MUSIC FADE IN]

VIRGINIA HUNT: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Virginia Hunt. This is Digital Diaries, a weekly podcast following the college experience and asking students a question about life at Northwestern. In this episode, we’ll be talking to rising sophomores about the biggest lesson they learned from their freshman year, and how they’re using it now as students across all years plan for the year ahead. 

[MUSIC FADE OUT]

[SCRIBBLE SOUNDS]

Think back to the night before move-in day. For many students, there’s a mix of nervous anticipation and excitement for the communities they will begin to form. For Weinberg sophomore Bela Filstrup, the importance of these communities resonated. 

BELA FILSTRUP: The biggest thing that my freshman year of college taught me is how much community around you matters.

VIRGINIA HUNT: Like many incoming students, Filstrup was anxious about leaving behind longstanding connections. 

BELA FILSTRUP: In high school, I was always really close with my family and I had been friends with my friends since forever, and so transitioning to college was a big adjustment and being away from all of that and rebuilding those communities. 

VIRGINIA HUNT: Though Northwestern hosts orientation events such as Wildcat Welcome and club fairs, Filstrup says that’s not the only way to connect. 

BELA FILSTRUP: Like even if it’s just a meal, you have to eat, and just having dinner with someone can do so much for improving your mental health, and allow you to focus on all the millions of other things that you have to focus on as a student. 

[SCRIBBLE SOUNDS]

VIRGINIA HUNT: Prioritizing having a community doesn’t look the same for everyone, and it may sometimes require a bit of sacrifice especially in a busy college environment. Weinberg sophomore Ella Marks’ lesson was learned from finding this balance.

ELLA MARKS: 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my freshman year of college was what my priorities in college were and the effects of prioritizing them, and what it meant for me. 

VIRGINIA HUNT: Academic discipline is a hallmark characteristic of Northwestern students, who often keep busy schedules and hefty courseloads.

ELLA MARKS: I realized pretty early on that I could spend all of my time studying. I had enough work that I could spend my entire afternoon until 3 a.m. studying if I wanted, five to six days a week. 

VIRGINIA HUNT: For Marks, that wasn’t the best way to optimize her college experience. She wanted to find balance and have fun in a variety of ways. 

ELLA MARKS:Sometimes I would go hang out with friends at night, instead of taking an extra hour to study, and I realized that meant maybe I would do slightly worse on an exam, not horrible enough that it really negatively affected me, but I would have to understand those were some of the consequences of what my priorities in college are, and I learned to be okay with that.

[SCRIBBLE SOUNDS]

VIRGINIA HUNT: As students learn to figure out these priorities and develop themselves in this transition, rising McCormick sophomore Isaac Braunfeld hopes that they’ll give themselves grace.

ISAAC BRAUNFELD: Something that I think that I learned from my experience in freshman year is that you have to go at your own pace especially with the transition from high school to college. 

VIRGINIA HUNT: Braunfeld also warns against falling into the trap of comparison.

ISAAC BRAUNFELD: Some people adjust to it really quickly, and that’s really great for them, and some people take a lot longer, and some people don’t figure it out until sophomore or junior year even. Some people don’t figure it out until they graduate, and that’s okay because they figure it out eventually, 

VIRGINIA HUNT: The common thread running through all of these stories? A search for community.

ISAAC BRAUNFELD: It’s just important to be there for one another instead of holding yourself against one another. I think that that would be the piece of advice that I have to share. 

VIRGINIA HUNT: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Virginia Hunt. Thanks for listening to another episode of Digital Diaries. This episode was reported and produced by me, Virginia Hunt. The audio editors of The Daily Northwestern are myself and Lily Shen, the digital managing editors are Scott Hwang and Laura Simmons, and the editor in chief is Avani Kalra. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.

Email: [email protected]

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