Ahhh, freshman year. A time when it’s socially acceptable to make a bounty of mistakes and if you got a nickel for every time you told someone you’re a “college freshman,” well… you wouldn’t be a broke college student.
But there’s plenty of things I wish someone had told me my freshman year. Such as, avoid the last bathroom stall on a coed floor, or that you don’t have to wear a skirt and heels out every Friday and Saturday night, and Facebook stalking in a 200 person lecture will somehow come back to haunt you.
And after having done it all and looking back, loving every minute of it, there’s a few more things I want you to know before you dive into the pool that is freshman living.
Try new things. So you’ve never played volleyball – join an intramural team. You’re partially color blind and think Rembrandt is a kitchen appliance brand – take an art history class. Your favorite genre of music is “top 40” and you’re not completely sure what E.D.M. stands for – spend Wednesday night at Funk Night. As you become an upperclassman, you’ll have less and less time and space in your schedule for fun and different things. Take advantage of freshman year to do them.
Be open to new people. I can hardly count how many incredible people I met throughout college. But I never would have met them if I thought the same way I did freshman year. I wasn’t very keen on talking to people who liked different things than I did, who had different plans on the weekends, or who majored in subjects I didn’t understand. Whatever you do, DON’T BE THIS WAY. You’ll miss out on some pretty outstanding individuals.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. This is something we’ve all heard before, but I can’t stress it enough. Plenty of times freshman year, I went out to a party wearing clothes I wasn’t comfortable in and flipping my hair every 15 minutes – because it seemed like the “college girl” thing to do. It’s not. The “college” thing to do is finding and being comfortable with yourself.
Get creative. Freshman year is so many things, but for most, first semester means a light work load and an abundance of free time. Get creative. Make that DIY cork board you once saw on Pinterest, reorganize your makeup table with fun storage, finally write down your bucket list, and make a photo collage in the shape of your school letters. You have time. Your workload is just going to get heavier and your level of procrastination higher. Do it while you have the energy and ideas fresh in your mind.
Introduce yourself as much as possible. It may feel awkward and you may scare them off, but who knows! You could introduce yourself to your new best friend or someone taking the same terrible astronomy class as you. So while you’re waiting for your bread to toast in the dining hall and a cute guy or a girl with killer boots walks over and waits for their bread to toast, crack a corny joke and get talking! (This actually happened to me – no joke.)
Don’t feel pressured. Now I know I say to try new things, but feeling pressured to do something you’re completely uncomfortable with is a whole different ball game. If you don’t want to drink at a party, don’t drink. Carry around a Solo cup full of orange juice. If you want to study or go to sleep instead of staying up to watch 8 episodes of Planet Earth, go study. You can always do what you want, and anybody that has a problem with that can shove it.
Include people. Nobody wants to be that person left out of weekend plans or a Starbucks run, so send out invites like UPS sends packages. Knock on doors, talk to people in the bathroom, check your common room – the more the merrier! You’ll meet more people this way and you might just make someone’s day.
Do as much as possible. Before you know it (and trust me on this one) you’ll be a senior applying to jobs, and you’ll realize you never got to try that one funky burrito place or that you never checked out that history museum 5 blocks away or you never went to that bar and lounge that had Trivia Tuesdays. Do it now, experience it, and invite your friends. The last thing you want to say after you graduate is, “I never got to try that funky burrito place.”
Sit and take it in. This one might sound weird, but the moments I cherish most from freshman year are the ones that I stopped, looked around, and remembered to appreciate every element. Like one night, at maybe 3 a.m., after a night of party hopping, a handful of my friends and I squeezed into one dorm, wrestled over Domino’s Pizza slices, and stayed up talking and laughing. And that one moment will always stay with me. Be sure to take in the ones that will stay with you.
Good luck to all my soon-to-be Freshies and enjoy every minute of it!!