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Editor’s Note: This is the third of four student essays about their experiences in the Health 1, 2, 3 program. The essays were developed from an audio vignetter assignment, so are transcripts of those assignments. This program, described here, is a hallmark of the Human Health program and reaches every incoming Emory freshman.

I just finished my freshman year in the college during which I had the opportunity to take Health 100 in the fall and Health 200 in the spring. Both of these courses have taught me a lot about the importance of balancing my health, especially in relation to the five pillars of health: emotional, mental, social, physical, and spiritual.

During the fall 2017 of and spring of 2018, I really learned a lot about myself. Upon entering college, I was stressed out with classes. I had these expectations of making perfect grades and being able to balance my social life, because coming to Atlanta, I was really looking forward to meeting new people. I am originally from Texas and didn’t know anyone from my high school who came to Emory. So I was really looking forward to meeting people from around the world and having the opportunity to learn about different cultures and meet different people. I also thought that I would be one of those people who would easily transition into college. You hear about how a lot of freshman have difficulties balancing different aspects of life and getting accustomed to differences between high school and college. I thought I would be over that and it wouldn’t apply to me, but that wasn’t exactly the case. My goal was to be a star student, but my expectations did not align with reality.

In reality, I was definitely pushing myself beyond what I was capable. I was taking a full course load and I didn’t know how to balance my time. I didn’t know how to focus and spend time on myself or work in important things like sleep. For example, I was going to bed at like 3am and had to wake up at 9am for classes. I would then spend all afternoon after class sleeping, so my sleeping schedule was completely off. The stress of school and not being able to function properly really took a toll on my health. Over time, school felt like it was overtaking my life and I really didn’t know how to come out of that. I got really stressed out around exams. I didn’t know how to study effectively, which forced me to re-think coming to Emory. I was really excited about choosing to go to college outside of my state because I thought it would allow me to get a fresh start and venture outside of my comfort zone. Because of the toll that the start of the fall semester took on my health, I actually considered going back to Texas, back to where I know friends and family. But, I realized that if I did that I wouldn’t be allowing myself to grow. So instead, I looked seriously at the lessons from Health 100 and Health 200. I learned how to invest time and energy into my self—when I work best, when I’m in flow, and how to use my energy wisely so I could better manage my time.

Before taking Health 100 and Health 200, I didn’t look forward to learning. But over time, and especially now, I can see a difference in myself and I can balance my life better. I was in too many clubs and taking too many classes, I over extended myself and wasn’t spending time on the right things at the right time. From Health 100 and Health 200, I learned how to balance my five pillars of health. I learned to take time for myself, particularly my spiritual health. I would go to Lullwater with a book and read and invest time into myself. I would balance that out with school, and took advantage of campus resources like CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services), which has been incredibly helpful with stress management. There, I learned more about who I am as a person, who I want to be, what my values are, and how to integrate that towards my study habits, social life, and skills.

I also learned that school isn’t everything. It’s not necessary for me to spend 24 hours in school, take an exam, and blow off school for the next few days, which is what I was doing during the fall semester. In the spring semester, I learned more about how to balance my time in Health 200 and took advantage of when I knew I would be at my most focused state by studying during that time. For me, that happens to be early in the morning. I would set my alarm early, wake up early, and go to bed early to get enough sleep. I also worked to balance school with exploring Atlanta and spending time with my friends – including having a movie night or getting ice cream. (I love Jeni’s ice cream!)

Health 100 and Health 200 really had an impact on me. In my Biology and Chemistry classes, I was learning more about the world around me, but Health 100 and Health 200 taught me more about myself, which I think is just as important, if not more important. By learning more about myself, I’m able to better understand other information and learn the things I’m supposed to throughout my college career. Granted, I’m not perfect. There are still things I need to improve on and there are different ways for me to grow as far as learning about myself and managing my time better. But I think I definitely have grown a lot since the fall semester and I look forward to what else I can do over the next three years of college and beyond. Thank you Health 100 and 200 for making that possible for me!