When I finally threw my graduation cap in the air my senior year of high school, I spent my entire summer counting down the days until I would finally start my journey at the University of Colorado Boulder. In my head, I had this idea of what college would be like; going to school and applying for internships while balancing a strong social life filled with parties and adventure. Of course, after concluding my first full year at CU Boulder, I discovered that college is so much more complicated than that. Therefore, below are 20 things that no one tells you about your freshman year at CU Boulder.
20. The food selection in Boulder is incredible.
Whether you want burgers, Thai food, late night pizza, delicious breakfast food, curry, sushi, tacos, or pho–you name it, Boulder doesn’t disappoint to provide it. Although it’s extremely hard to pick, some of my Boulder favorites include The Sink, The Med, The Corner, Japango, and The Buff.
19. Spotify will become your new best friend.
Spotify is quickly becoming the new iTunes of music, especially among college students. As soon as you make an account you can make various playlists that you can then share among your friends. Plus, if you aren’t the creative type or know a lot of music, Spotify creates playlists that you can follow. Spotify is perfect for any study session, party, or road trip!
18. You NEED to take advantage of everything Boulder has to offer.
I have traveled to hundreds of places in and out of the United States, but Boulder still remains one of my favorite places in the entire world. The upbeat, free-spirited culture of Boulder is one that cannot be compared to anywhere else. During the fall, Boulder has the Farmers Market every Saturday, CU Football game days, and plenty of great weather for hiking up Chautauqua or napping on hammocks on Farrand Field. When the weather changes, you can find the majority of the CU Boulder campus heading up to the mountains every Saturday to ski. You are going hear the saying “Boulder has everything”, and it’s completely true.
17. If you didn’t drink coffee before, you probably will start to now.
Before I came to college, the smell of coffee made me gag! My parents do not drink coffee so I never grew up waking up to the smell of it. Within my first months of college, I was curious as to what made it so delicious and addictive. I tried it, and really did not enjoy the taste of it at first, but I loved how it made me feel. Eventually, I started drinking it every day and now you can find me in Starbucks every morning ordering my iced coffee. Trust me, if I started loving coffee, you probably will too.
16. Parking in Boulder is close to impossible, so leave your car at home freshman year.
I am from Chicago, and bringing my car was just not an option. But, I shortly discovered what a blessing this was. Parking in Boulder, whether it be on the hill, Pearl Street, or 28th Street, is one of life’s biggest pains. I have had countless friends get parking tickets due to the lack of parking and strict parking rules throughout Boulder. As a freshman, there is no need for a car as all the dining halls, gym, library, and restaurants are walking distance from the dorms. That being said, leave your car at home your first couple years until you absolutely need it.
15. Check your weather app every morning.
Colorado is known for having over 300 days of sunshine, but it also has one of the most diverse climates in the US. In the morning, it could be 35 and snowing, and by 2pm it can be sunny and 60 during the middle of February. I got into a good habit of checking the weather and it definitely helped me dress right for each day.
14. Yes, weed is legal, and no, not everyone smokes weed every day.
A lot of the misconception about the legalization of marijuana comes from the fact that most people think that you have to be 18 to buy weed from a dispensary. This is false, because you have to be 21 to even step foot into a dispensary. Dispensaries don’t accept fake ID’s and they take their business very seriously. Now, if you want weed, you can get it relatively easy. But, not every CU Boulder student smokes every day.
13. NEVER do laundry on Sunday’s.
The laundry machines in every dorm get extremely crowded over the weekends, especially on Sunday’s. Sometimes, if you do laundry when it’s crowded and forget to move it, people will throw your clothes on the tables in the laundry room. Therefore, it’s important to set a time during the week where you can do laundry quickly and efficiently.
12. Go Greek! Or don’t…
A lot of big universities all over the country have a huge Greek system that rules over the social scene. Many believe that this also goes for CU, but that’s not necessarily true. I decided to join Greek life in order to feel a part of something, and to make new friends. I know a lot of girls and guys who didn’t join Greek life and still have the best time. Boulder’s Greek life is something that I love being involved in, but if it’s not your scene, that’s okay!
11. You are going to get sick… many times!
The combination of dorm germs, dining hall germs, sharing drinks, and more often than not, lack of sleep, is going to cause you to get sick multiple times a semester. When this happens, chug some Emergen-C and grab some Mucinex. Usually when you get sick, it’s just a really bad cold. If it continues or worsens after a week, then feel free to head over to the Wardenburg Health Center. Just listen to your body!
10. You are going to fail… many times!
My very first college midterm I got a D. I had never even received a C on a report card in high school, so when I saw I got a 67% on my first test in college, I was extremely discouraged. As you get used to the workload, it becomes easier to study for exams and do well in school. But, there will always be at least one class a semester that no matter how hard you study for, you still may not pull out an A or B, which is totally acceptable as long as you work hard and do your absolute best.
9. It’s okay to be homesick, and it does go away.
My very first semester away, I spent a lot of time being homesick. I didn’t think the transition to college would be as challenging as it was, and I spent a lot of days wondering if this was what it would feel like every single year of college. Second semester came around and everything shifted, I felt more comfortable in my college experience and I barely spent a day feeling homesick. Now, I am a second semester sophomore planning to stay the summer in Boulder because I don’t want to leave.
8. Leave your fake ID at home.
The bar scene in Boulder is not popping until you turn 21, so don’t even try. Bars are extremely strict about fake IDs and will take them and contact the police if you try to use one. There are a select group of places that will accept fake IDs, but always be careful using a fake ID in Boulder.
7. You should always spread positivity!
No one likes someone that constantly complains about the stress of their workload, the bad weather, or how sick they may feel. Everyone has bad days or weeks, but trust me, not everyone wants to hear about it. It’s important to be grateful that you get to go to college every day in one of the most special places in the world. Not everyone gets the opportunity to learn about something their passionate about in a place that they are just as passionate about.
6. Thursdays are the best nights to go out.
Boulder is an upbeat and lively place any day of the week. People in Boulder love to socialize, and most of all, love to party. While you can find a party almost any night of the week, nothing can compare to a Thursday night out in Boulder. After a long week of classes, Thursday night is the night in which everyone looks forward to starting on Sunday mornings. Friday and Saturday nights are often just as fun, but the feeling of a Thursday night is extra remarkable.
5. Your friends will change.
The first few weeks of freshman year you will probably meet tons of people that you will believe to be your friends for the rest of college. Fun fact, that is not true whatsoever. I didn’t find my true friends within the first weeks of school, let alone the first semester of freshman year. Sophomore year I found true connections to people that I had never experienced before, and you will also find your forever friends. It just takes time!
4. If you don’t like your school decision, it is totally okay to transfer.
Making a life altering decision at 18 is a lot of pressure. Especially when you have no idea what the future of being on your own entails. Sometimes in your gut you just know, but other times you don’t. If you are ever unhappy for whatever reason, don’t think that transferring schools is a cowardly move.
3. Changing your major is also totally okay.
On top of choosing a school at 18, you have to choose a major. Deciding what you want to study for the rest of your life is also a confusing thing to do. What seems interesting to you when you’re in high school, may not interest you when you get to college. Changing your major is a simple process at CU that many students to every day. Half of my friends, including me, changed their major at some point before their second semester of sophomore year. You should learn about things that you are truly interested in and that may change as time goes on.
2. Learn to scream “Sko Buffs”.
CU Boulder’s classic slogan is “Sko Buffs”. Yes, we know, “Sko” isn’t a word. Guess what? We don’t care! Screaming Sko Buffs on game days, across the street to strangers, or to alumni is one main component that makes CU so amazing.
1. Your first year is going to fly by, so just enjoy every single moment!
From the late-night library sessions, to yelling the fight song on game days, to driving up to Flagstaff, you will never be able to experience your college years again. Make the most of every single day, good or bad. It’s important to make connections in and out of the academic world, and to never be afraid to put yourself out there. Seize every opportunity and do it with excitement and gratitude.