updated 08/14/2013 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/19/2013 AT 6:00 PM ET
Missy Franklin is college-bound.
The 18-year-old became the first US female swimmer to win six gold medals at the World Championships in Barcelona on Aug. 4, but she’s already focused on starting her life as a student at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Honestly just being home is enough of a celebration for me,” the four-time Olympic gold medalist, who will go straight from hosting the US Open Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day to move into her dorm room, told PEOPLE on Tuesday.
While such a busy schedule could be overwhelming for some, Franklin takes it all in stride, with the help of her trademark upbeat attitude.
“I ve heard so many incredible things about college and I ve given up so much for this experience,” she said. “I’m so looking forward to it.”
Still, moving away from home for the first time can be hard on everyone – especially parents. Franklin says her mom is “a total mess,” adding that “we both bawl our eyes out every time we talk about it.”
Regardless, the freshman is “excited to live in the dorms and have a roommate,” she said. But as for partying, Franklin admits she’s “never been to a party before” an unusual admission for someone of her age, until you remember that she won her first gold medal at 17.
As for those coveted gold medals, Missy will not be taking them to Berkeley. Instead, she prefers to keep them at home with her parents in a safety deposit box and “take them out for special occasions.”
When asked if she thinks her fellow classmates will recognize her at her new school, the swim star laughed bashfully.
“I m just going to go there as Missy the freshman, you know? Like every other freshman going there … to have the time of my life.”