In the first few weeks of college, it’s pretty easy to distinguish first year students from veteran hoo’s. The packs they travel in, the dorm-keys hanging from lanyards, the crisp orientation water bottles and the naïve faces of excitement not yet tainted by late nights on the first floor of Clem. These tell-tale signs all paint the image of your picture-perfect first year. As a first-year student, you quickly catch onto the UVA slang and learn the ropes of independence; soon enough, you spend your autumn afternoons on the lawn, admiring our beloved Rotunda and writing Thomas Jefferson fan-fiction. You’ve basically got it all figured out! After a long, activities-packed week of classes and making friends in your dorm, you are ready to officially experience the peak of university life: the weekend.
You get ready for your first Thirsty Thursday, pondering the perfect outfit for your big debut on the Corner. All of your new friends excitedly whisper about the infamous Rugby Road, dropping the names of fraternities you’ve never heard of. The night is young, and there is a lot coming your way in the next few hours.
1. For the love of all things holy, do NOT wear nice shoes.
Yes, you want to ~flex~ your freshest kicks, especially because they match your perfectly planned outfit. However, it’s inevitable that your beloved VANS or sandals will get absolutely wrecked the minute you step foot into a fraternity house. Be prepared to have your shoes stained by spilled drinks and coated in frat floor sludge. Do yourself a favor and buy a $10 pair of knockoff VANS from the local Target, or just wear Crocs. Can’t go wrong with those trusty steeds.
2. Don’t travel 30 people deep in a pack of your hall-mates
Rolling out with friends is a blast! It’s also crucial to stay with a few buddies throughout the night; however, when a herd of teenagers stumbles down Wertland street searching for a party, you may as well have first year painted on your forehead. Stay in groups, but maybe reconsider the typical first year mega-squadron.
3. Only go out with as much as you are willing to lose
Whether it may be money, a cute shirt or even your phone; expect some casualties. Your favorite tops may get destroyed, and you’ll probably lose some things along the way. College nights are made for a good time with great friends, so maybe take it easy on the clothes or cash and just let yourself have a low-risk evening! That being said, all you really need is a bit of money and a charged phone.
4. Start getting ready early
Make sure you’ve napped and eaten before getting ready to go out. Although going out is great, it’s even more crucial to take care of yourself. If you have work to do but the whole squad is rolling out, don’t be afraid to take a raincheck and stay in. There will be plenty of times to go out and have fun; however, that’s not sustainable if you’re not taking care of yourself or sleeping through your classes the next morning. Work hard, play hard. In terms of getting ready, make sure your gang has plenty of time to put themselves together. Chances are that at least two of your girls will have a crisis about their outfits, or that one of the guys has yet to wake up from his afternoon nap. Even if you don’t need a ton of time to get yourself ready to rock and roll, getting everyone out at the same time is the equivalent of herding insane, extra-large kindergarteners.
5. Frat parties aren’t the be-all-end-all
Most first years view frat parties as the Holy Grail of college life, but you shouldn’t limit yourself. There’s nothing wrong with rolling out to one of the houses on Rugby Road for a good time, and frats can be a blast; however, the reality typically resembles that of a very sweaty Bar Mitzvah. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experience the other less mainstream moves that UVA’s social scene has to offer. Plenty of clubs and organizations on Grounds— from varsity teams to cycling club— have fun pregames and parties that are usually less crowded and heinous than frat parties. This is a huge perk of getting involved on Grounds; you get to meet all kinds of people and attend social events that are much less advertised, yet still a great time.
6. Venmo and Uber.
Download them. Case closed.
You’ll come to see that your first year at the University of Virginia is a rollercoaster. Whether you go out or not, there’s a kaleidoscope of experiences to have and people to meet. During my first year at UVA, I made memories— some wholesome and some embarrassing— that I will always remember. Your first year at UVA will be an exciting one of ‘firsts’ and most definitely some ‘lasts’, but it all comes down to the people you share it with. It’s not the crazy nights that resonate with me, but the friends that I’ve journeyed with throughout our wild misadventures (as well as the less desirable all-nighters holed away in Clem library). Be open-minded, be willing, but also be safe. You’ll experience what will be the best year of your life because it most certainly was mine.