At first I was going to structure this post as a “Top Five Tips From First Semester” – but as I started brainstorming what those tips would be, I realized I had more rambling to do versus just a straight list of advice – because honestly, what I have to say about school can’t be applied to everyone; it’s just what I have learned through my first time being away from home for a very significant length of time!
As the title says, this is going to be a total stream of consciousness so I’m not sure what direction this is heading in but here we go…
I picked my roommate online, which I know there’s a lot of debate about but it worked out super well. We found each other on the Facebook group which is somewhat laughable but actually ended up having mutual friends. When orientation started, she was the only person I knew there. We are both in special programs at the school, just two different ones that correspond with the professional schools we are in.
Although it’s not common, I happened to meet girls at orientation who would end up becoming my really good friends. At my school, orientation is in the summer before first semester starts, not attached to the beginning of the semester. My roommate met other people who were in her program, and I met them later in the day after all the orientation groups were combined. We hung out for the night, not knowing that we would get back to school in the fall only to be living on the same floor of the same dorm. I think it’s important to note that besides my roommate, none of us kept in touch after orientation – not even friending each other on Facebook.
But we all remembered each other by face, and when we got back to school, knowing some extra people – who then developed into my close friends – was so great. From them, I met who they knew and within the first few days, already had a “group” even if everyone told us that group wouldn’t last beyond those first few days (but it did!!). Takeaway: Keep an open mind during orientation, you never know who you’ll meet and what kind of friends they will develop into! It’s a rarity, but you could be reunited with those friends upon the start of school.
There were only a few days in between move-in and the start of classes – enough to get to know people and have flexibility without being bored and (probably) homesick. Those few days were fun – first frat party, first encounter with dining hall food, first (and really only) time being at school with little to no responsibilities. Takeaway: If your campus affords you time in between move-in and classes, explore campus, find out where your classes are, and always keep your door open!
On the Monday that classes began, I was actually really nervous. I had an 8:30am and I was so nervous I was going to oversleep – I don’t think I slept much that night anyways. Once the day started going (I had 3 classes that day), it was a lot better – I found out my 8:30 was an optional class (woo!) and my other classes were much shorter than the allotted time, used simply just to go over the syllabus. Takeaways: Avoid 8:30ams at all costs (trust me, waking up in college is way different than high school), print the syllabus out for classes where it was released online already (if you can, no big deal if you can’t), and know that during first week, classes will (most likely) be shorter.
At first, the food seemed great because everything was new – I was choosing whatever I wanted for each meal, and over the first week I saw what the daily rotation was at the dining hall. Unfortunately, after the new-ness of it all faded away, I was not the biggest fan of the dining hall food – and due to a lack of overeating, I loss weight instead of gained. This is an anomaly!! I also think the fact that I’m walking a lot more than ever before (3 to 4 miles a day, according to my phone) and occasionally going to the gym (it’s so close I don’t have much of an excuse) contributes. Takeaway: Dining hall food can be iffy, but be smart, make sure you eat, and find what you like!
From there, getting adjusted even more required discovering the little nuances of campus – particularly how to get into a rhythm of studying and at that, where to study. There’s tons of study spaces but finding what is best for you – and then probably switching it up every now and then, is best. Takeaways: Try out different spots to see what noise level you like for studying, what location is best for you, and whether you can or can’t be around friends.
I’m going to cut off this post here – I know its a semi-abrupt ending – but I have a lot more to say and putting it all into one post would be super long – way longer than anyone would want to read.
Look out for more on this (that is – if you want more – if so tweet me so I know!).