Starting College — What I Wish I’d Known

WRITTEN BY: Nicole LaBarbiera

Starting your freshman year at college is one of the most exciting times of your life. I had a whole entire container set aside filled with diabetes supplies to go along with my college necessities. I was all set, starting cross country for the first time, and wanting to become a Nutritionist.


I met my roommate through Cross Country, and thought we were a pretty good match. Two weeks into school, she told me that she’s moving out. Her reason was: “If something were ever to happen to you, I don’t how I would be able to handle it.” In my head I knew that wasn’t the real reason. It upset me because she had to use me having diabetes as an excuse. No one should ever use diabetes as an excuse. But maybe I should have explained clearer what diabetes was, and if there were ever an emergency what to do. Other than, “This is my glucagon…stab it in my leg if I ever faint.” I wish I knew in freshman year how to properly confront my roommate about my situation. All my friends’ back home have been used to me having diabetes for 6 years. So explaining how to deal with diabetes with someone was a little foreign to me.

Stock Up

As the first couple of months went by, there were countless times when I ran out of supplies. There was nothing that I could do about it, since I had no car. I then had to live off of a no carb diet until my supplies were dropped off by a local pharmacy. I wish I knew to keep a closer check on my diabetes supply count. So I knew when I was running a little low. When living at home, if I ever were in need of supplies, it could take me 30 minutes to get a hold of them. When you have one box left, reorder supplies!

The Cafeteria

Living at college you don’t have many “healthy” food choices. You’re basically stuck with cafeteria food, restaurant food, or whatever you can cook in your microwave. The Freshman 15 is no joke. I gained at least 20 pounds my freshman year. I woke up, went to the café and grabbed a pop tart before every class because of laziness. I wish that I knew I had to take better care of my body. Yes, I was running in cross country, but I was gaining all this weight because of the amount of calories I was consuming. Gaining weight had also affected my blood sugar levels and the amount of insulin I had to take. Making it harder to actually lose the weight.

504 Plan-Get It

In high school I had a 504 plan and accommodations. In my first year, I didn’t really think I had to set one up because I barely used it in high school. Boy, was I was wrong! I had just tested my blood sugar right before entering my class to take a test. It was 300 … I spoke with my teacher and told them I wasn’t comfortable taking the test because of how high my blood sugar was. I ended up having to take the test anyway because I had no 504 plan set up. I flunked the test. I wish that I knew that teachers weren’t as accommodating as high school. Later that day, I quickly made an appointment with the disabilities services to set up a 504 plan. As soon as you get to college, or even before you get there, it’s best to speak to the disabilities services.

Get an ID

My doctor always bugged me about wearing an ID bracelet. I never wanted to because it was annoying having something on my wrist or neck that pretty much labeled that I had a disease. Before going to college, my doctor explained to me: if you were ever drunk at a party and passed out, people would just think you had alcohol poisoning. I would be surrounded by people who never knew that I had diabetes. If something were ever to happen to you, the EMT would need to know you’re diabetic, so they don’t accidentally give you an IV of sugar water, unless you actually need it!

Bottom Line

I wish I’d known or acted on all these things before starting my freshman year at college — I would have had more of a handle on my diabetes, and health.

Nicole LaBarbiera

Although Nicole is of Russian descent, she grew up in NJ and now finds herself studying criminal justice at Marywood University in Scranton, PA. She loves finding ways that allow her to think outside the box and be creative. For example, she loves to play with different kinds of food and express herself through her blog: She doesn’t allow Type 1 diabetes to get in in the way of leading the kind of life she strives for and achieving her goals. She hopes to inspire others to see diabetes not as a disease, but as motivation to live the best life possible.