My freshman year started out rough. I was away from the only home I knew, I had no friends, and I was a nervous wreck. I took the hard route to find a place where I feel comfortable now, so I’m here to give you some of my biggest tips for your freshman year of college at UTK.
1. Just because the first football game sends you into a panic attack doesn’t mean the rest of them will.
When you attend and SEC school, football is a big deal even if you aren’t a fan, but the first game can get a little rowdy. Yes, someone will take your spot in the stands and make you feel claustrophobic, and yes you will probably get alcohol spilled on you, but don’t let that ruin your freshman football experience. Belting Rocky Top with 102,455 other people is something that you just can’t miss out on.
2. Your high school friends will drift, and that’s okay.
When I moved two hours away from home and only knew one person, my friends felt like they were about a thousand miles away. My friends that I had had for the past four years and I were terrified together, even miles apart, but as we got busier, the friendship becomes harder to maintain. You really don’t realize how heavily those friendships rely on seeing each other everyday.
3. On the other hand, you’ll need to make new friends and the best way to do that is get inVOLved.
I know that every article you’re going to read is going to say the same thing, and being the biggest introvert myself, I would just roll my eyes too. However, even just going to your floor meetings and saying hi to the person next to you in class is a big step. An on-campus job is also a great option, especially if you can work in one of the residence halls or PCB because you will meet so many people through that. But, if none of those options are appealing, just sit in the lobby of your building and say hi to everyone who walks in; that’s how one girl I met made all of her friends last year.
4. Community dorms are not that bad.
I lived in Massey, so I wasn’t in Hess aka “The Jungle”, but I feel like either way, that’s also how I made plenty of friends. You meet people when you go to the bathroom, and just walking down to take your trash out. Living community style also makes your hall a lot closer because everybody knows everybody’s business.
5. Yes, Chick-Fil-A everyday is appealing, but those dining dollars go quickly.
Don’t make the same mistake that I did and think that just because the Student Union is right there, your money will last forever because when you’re sitting in your dorm in November trying to decide if you should have mac & cheese for the third night in a row or some month old cashews, you’ll regret all of those Caramel Macchiatos. Plus, when you’re a freshman at UTK, you have 3 free meal swipes everyday at PCB, so make that trek.
6. Don’t be terrified to have a random roommate!
I knew my roommate last year, and that ended pretty badly even though we had come in as best friends. This year at UTK, I got a random roommate and to be completely honest, I was dreading it. She turned out to be amazing though and I think as long as you can find your flow with them, your living situation will be a breeze. Don’t try to be their best friend and be with them all the time because that’ll make you feel like you never have any down time. Just be nice, or don’t talk at all, your living situation will change next year anyway.
7. Don’t walk alone in the fort at night.
I know, that’s where all the “good” parties are and sometimes your friends don’t want to leave when you do, but its just dangerous. Have a buddy, call a t-link, just be smart about getting home from a slightly dangerous part of town.
8. Hodges is not always the best place to study.
Although there are six study floors, during high traffic times like finals, you probably aren’t going to be able to find a seat, and if you’re anything life me, the library distracts you more than it helps you unless you’re in a private room. So take advantage of those empty classrooms in HSS or the Art building. They’re there for you to find your place outside of your room, so that way when nobody has a seat in Hodges during finals, you know you’re going to find a seat in your zone.
9. Your dorm probably isn’t going to be Tumblr-approved.
Let’s face it, both dorms that I’ve lived in at UTK smell a little bit like a wet foot, and are covered in some sort of orange and concrete mixture. Its kind of hard to decorate them to make them seem like all of those perfect pinterest dorms (I’ve tried), but as long as you have things that make you happy and feel comfortable in your space, who cares? You’re in college, probably broke, and just trying to survive; you don’t have time to Martha Stewart your room.
10. Stop giving a flying fadoodle about what people think.
Everyone around you is probably having the same #collegestruggles as you are right now whether they show it or not. You’ve been so busy that you haven’t been able to do laundry for a week so you’re wearing a high school t-shirt? That’s fine. You’re out of money? Same. You don’t have a car? There’s buses and Uber. Nobody is going to think that you’re any weirder than anyone else on campus. Don’t be afraid to speak out in class because you think that you’ll seem dumb or weird, don’t be afraid to dress up even though everyone else is in pajamas. The thing about college is literally no one cares, so let your freak flag fly.