As you head to freshmen orientation, there are tons of things that are going through your mind. “Is anyone going to like me? Am I going to make friends? Am I even cut out for this?” And I can assure you that the nerves and the terror is very normal and you are not alone. There are SO many things that I wish that I had known going into my freshmen orientation at UMass Amherst that would have not only prepared me better, but also might have helped to ease some of my fears.
1. You will repeat your name, major, where you are from, and a “fun fact” at least 298376382 times.
“So everyone go around the room say your name, major, where you are from and a fun fact about yourself!” This will be followed by countless eye rolls and the nervous panic of trying to find something about yourself that is both not too personal, but also interesting to the naked eye. Make sure that you have at least a couple facts in your back pocket incase someone steals yours and actually pay attention when people are saying theirs. This way it’s easier to start a conversation with someone after the introductions are over! Maybe you both play the same sport, or you are both out of state students, whatever ways you can find to make connections and conversations, take it.
2. There will be drugs, lots of drugs.
Whether you were a big partier in high school, or you have never even known the smell of weed, you will be see and be offered pretty much everything during the first week of your orientation into college. I’m not going to tell you what decisions to make when it comes to sex/drugs/alcohol, because frankly you’re an adult now and you make your own decisions now. This is precisely what gets people into trouble the most when they first go off to college. What I will tell you from experience, is to be safe and to be smart. Have common sense to never leave our drink unattended, have a plan at the beginning of the night as to how you will get home at the end, and mainly if something doesn’t feel right to you, trust your gut. College is about living and having the best time of your life, but do what you want to do because you want to do it, not because you think you are suppose to.
3. Your first friends are not always your friends forever.
You will meet a lot of people at orientation and you will make many many friends at orientation. However, I’m sad to tell you that your roommate who you got so close with, or that girl that you always sit with at breakfast before events start, may not end up being your best friend for the rest of your 4+ years here at Amherst. I’m not saying that you can’t form great friendships in that first week, but don’t be too disappointed when you guys drift off, or find different groups. It’s okay to let go of some relationships go and I promise you there will be many many more to follow.
4. If you’re wearing a lanyard, they will know you’re a freshmen.
Just a warning from an upperclassmen, don’t wear your lanyard around your neck past NSO, or we will judge you, just saying. You also cannot lose your lanyard though because we will also judge you for that too. Even though we have all done it…..multiple times. Pockets, utilize your pockets. Put it in the same pocket every time and do not deviate, this will lessen your chances of having to buy the $25 replacement.
5. Do the ice breakers, break the ice.
Yes, they are corny, yes playing games that mimic twister with total strangers is odd, but trust me they serve a purpose. Some of my best friends at orientation, I met because I wasn’t the kid in the corner of the room talking about how stupid the ice breakers were and pretending that I was too cool to want someone to talk to. You usually only have this kind of experience once in your life, just engage in it, have fun, even if you bond with someone over how horrible the ice breaker is, you still bonded with someone.
6. You’re going to miss your family……but actually you’re going to miss your family.
Okay, so I’m 18 I’m a grown adult, I’m not going to miss anything. I get to stay out till 2am and do whatever I want, why would I miss being treated like a kid? Well in reality, yes UMass does mean getting to go off and figure out your life on your own, but deep down you will miss your home. If you won’t miss your moms cooking. If you don’t miss you mom’s cooking, you will miss your sisters dance performances. If you don’t miss your sisters dance performances, you will miss getting to drive your brother to his first date. However, most importantly you will miss your DOG. Don’t think that these things won’t matter to you, but I wish I had known that they might take more time to get over than you may think….that is okay. 99.9% of the people I know LOVE UMass and love college, but freshmen all take different amounts of time to get to that point. My best friend to this day, was the most homesick person I have ever met, but today she is so independent and doesn’t even bat an eye. Don’t be scared to take your time to adjust, and don’t think you are ever alone.
7. Have specific frat house shoes.
You will go to a frat at some point at UMass, and during orientation is when they will literally let in anyone. The most important thing to know for orientation and the rest of college is that your ratio of girls to guys in your friend group, will be your biggest asset. With that being said, while you are at this frat with your friends, you will be watching your drink, you will be using the buddy system with a friend you trust, and you WILL have designated frat shoes. Believe it or not there will be liquid most likely on the floor of the frat, and you will still want to keep going to said frat. You just don’t wanna ruin your nice Toms in that.
8. Half the people that you meet at NSO, you will never see again.
You will meet literally hundreds of people in a matter of days. My summer NSO session alone had 500 people, 5 times the amount in my graduating class of high school. You will have a couple word conversations with people, you will hookup with people, you will have really deep interactions with individuals that you may never even see again. UMass amherst is a HUGE campus, a huge school for that matter and that means that if you don’t get peoples numbers at orientation, find them on Facebook, or have some other way to contact them, you can’t just leave it to fate that you will run into each other again. Don’t be afraid to ask for a number, to chase after those people you had connections with, but also don’t be disappointed or surprised when those people you spent all your time with at freshmen year summer NSO have mysteriously never been seen again until graduation.
9. You don’t need to pack your ENTIRE life away.
Do not overpack. DON’T DO IT. Whether it is for orientation or for life on campus, don’t pack away everything you own. I could tell you it until I’m blue in the face, but I will say it one more time, DO NOT OVERPACK. Being in college, especially UMass Amherst where all of your classes are AT LEAST a 10 minute walk away from where you live (especially if it is Orchard Hill,) you learn to survive with just the minimums that you need everyday. Don’t pack your entire closet, switch it out based on seasons when you go back home, trust me your entire closet is not needed for the full duration you are here. I speak from experience.
10. Be 100% open to experience and BE EXCITED!
YOU WILL HAVE FUN! Yes, it’s terrifying, we all know that, but orientation and college is one of the best times of your entire life. You will meet so many people, have so many experiences and literally it will amazing. Know that we are all in the same boat, truly all of us are. Even as I write this as a second semester sophomore, there is so much that I am still figuring out every single day. It will be a great time, and don’t be close off out of fear or insecurity. You are starting a new chapter in your life and while that comes with risk, it will also come with the greatest reward.