A Back To School Survival Guide For The Latina Gen Z Student
First-generation Latino college students are dedicated, determined, and creative students. That’s why we’ve teamed up with State Farm® to make this back-to-school season a success for college students who are paving the way for future generations. It’s not always easy to be the first, but it is always an accomplishment.
For most students, summer offers a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of college life.
Whether it’s spent tanning poolside, eating elotes at your family’s weekly BBQs, or taking a road trip with your amiguis— anything seems possible during this wet and wild time of the year.
However, as soon as July draws close, the first whispers of responsibility rear their ugly heads. When August arrives, it initiates a countdown to the panic before school starts again.
Remember that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach you used to have when you were ten as the first day of school approached? You knew it meant the end of sleeping in, playing with your friends all day, and running through sprinklers— what we can remember now as the good old days. Que rico!
Well, that feeling of dread is still there. And the stakes are even higher now with a more rigorous college workload. Not to mention that some students have to travel back to campus in the Fall, relinquishing all the sweet comforts of home in exchange for organic chemistry and 16th-century literature.
While the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year always feel a little unfair, we fully believe in you. And just to make sure you not only survive but thrive, here are a few ways you can maintain your sanity during those chaotic first few weeks back at school. Dale, que tu puedes!
Bring back as many provisions as possible
If you went back home for the summer and your mom offered to pack you a month’s worth of frijoles, take them. Most things can be frozen and reheated at your leisure. So don’t be afraid to stock up on your favorite home-cooked meals in case the single hot stove in your dorm isn’t cutting it.
Although it might not be as fresh, it’ll get the job done. And your parents will love loading up your suitcase with the only food they believe will truly nourish you: theirs. After all, feeding you is their love language, which is why when you asked for McDonald’s, they always replied, “Hay comida en la casa.”
Aside from food, bring whatever else sparks joy, as Marie Kondo might suggest. Bring your favorite teddy bear, pillow, or set of records. There’s no need to be uncomfy while pulling an all-nighter, and there may be many of those.
Get excited about decorating
Whether living on campus, off-campus, or at home and commuting to school, decorating your room is a great way to kick off the Fall semester in style. You could go the bohemian route with fairy lights over your headboard or try to be more organized with a whiteboard and colorful markers. Or maybe it’s time you hung up that Peso Pluma poster.
Whatever you choose, keeping a space that is tidy, comfortable, and uniquely yours is paramount. The textbooks, folders, and pages of notes are sure to creep up on you as the semester progresses, so establishing a standard for your room early on will dissuade you from letting the mess turn into a landfill.
And if you’re living at home, your parents will have one less thing to complain about. Now, that’s a win-win, mija.
Splurge on a new back-to-school wardrobe
No need to go crazy, but a few fun new pieces might incentivize you to strut your stuff to class. A pair of trendy cargo pants and a tube top might be just the thing, or maybe you finally take the plunge on those platform sneakers you’ve been wanting. Treat yourself— you deserve it!
No matter which way your style compass points, this could trick your mind to get back into the groove of things. Think of the upcoming Fall semester as a fashion show with the campus as the runway and you, cielito lindo, as the model.
You know how they say that if you look good, you feel good? Well, they’re not wrong. So, go add a few things to that online shopping cart and practice your poses. Sin pena, nena!
Work hard and play hard
Although college is often synonymous with partying, your education and grades should always come first. However, if you dive right into taking five classes, studying in the library for hours, and doing group projects by yourself, don’t forget to prioritize self-care — in whatever form that may come in.
Whether you’d rather go to a frat party— be careful with the jungle juice— or to a music festival, or simply to a friend’s house for a movie night, make some time for fun. Do the things that make you happy in order to refill the serotonin tank. Remember: your mood affects your work.
You’re still a kid, and this transition into adulthood can feel overwhelming, especially after a lazy summer, so try to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This is a skill you’ll need for the rest of your life.
Form a good friend group that you can trust
This group can be composed of study buddies, roommates, teammates, and the one girl with beautiful pink hair who sat in front of you in Intermediate French that you instantly tapped on the shoulder to compliment. The year is 2023, and cliquey behavior is canceled, so be open to every friendly face.
Try to make good choices about the people you bring into your life, and you’ll be glad you did, as college friendships tend to span decades. Not only do college friends serve as support and anchors during a pivotal stage of growth and transition, but they’re also there for the good times.
Make sure you make friends that will hold your hair back when you’re hanging over the toilet after a self-care night out. And make sure you make friends that will remind you that the Macroeconomics homework is due. Ideally, it’s the same friend.
And if you’re lucky, they’ll have an embarrassing story to tell about you at your wedding—the dream. Maybe going back to school after summer vacay won’t be so bad after all. Perhaps it’s just another hopeful beginning, full of promise and adventure.
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