Back in elementary school, the first day of a new year meant braided pigtails, a packed lunch and the traditional picture on your way out the door (Thanks, Mom). This solid format stood the test of time. Now in college, variables wreak havoc on these days. Buses make you late to class, rude drivers splash you with mud or you run into “that guy” from that one party last fall. But don’t fret, the chaos of the first day strikes students universally.
The Grand Staircase Entrance
Expectation: The walk to your first class screams beautiful college campus. Trees provide the perfect amount of shade while the blue skies and rays of sunshine brighten your mood. The last few steps between yourself and Spanish 100 take the form of two flights of stairs. Dashing up confidently, you evade the swinging backpacks and cellphone users blocking your way. You arrive at class five minutes early and select a seat in the middle of the classroom near the cutie sipping coffee.
Reality: “I was a freshman headed to my very first class which was in Ballantine,” said Indiana University junior Kenzie Coning. The stairs of Ballantine Hall rightfully earned a reputation of aerobic torture. One flight knocks you out of breath faster than you can say “Hoosiers.” “I followed the crowd up the Ballantine stairs and then fell up the stairs with a long line of people behind me gasping. Luckily I only knocked down two people in front of me.”
The Hidden Freshman Girl Genius
Expectation: As the singular underclassman in a course, potential benefits hang ripe for the picking. Cute older boys helping you with homework, impressed faculty ready to write rec letters and getting just that much closer to your degree, to name a few. You keep your cool, slide in undetected as the youngling of the bunch. Find yourself smooth sailing from there on out.
Reality: “It was my first day of the semester, I was the only freshmen in the class and it was this huge lecture hall. It was Chem 300,” said IU junior Ally Burdick. “The professor was looking at the roster and I was like ‘Please don’t. Please don’t. Please don’t.’ and she goes ‘Who is the freshman, raise your hand!’ I didn’t see any other choice and named myself as the lone freshman. But it turned out to be my favorite class and I got an awesome grade.”
Your Love Will Find a Way
Expectation: Distance makes the heart grow fonder or stronger? Either way, wrecking this relationship will take more than a couple weeks apart. Nightly Skype dates and endless snapchatting help create an illusion of togetherness only possible in the modern age. Plus, planning his first visit to your college keeps you busy and distracted from your separation anxiety.
Reality: Don’t cross into long distance territory without accepting its challenges upfront. “I made friends here, and my boyfriend was pulling away,” said IU freshman Haley Wilson. “I told him I didn’t know if long distance would work, but that I couldn’t talk anymore right then, because I had to study. In the middle of studying, he insisted on FaceTiming me and broke up with me. I slammed some doors during quiet hours. It’s okay—he already texted me regretting it, but I told him to get lost.”
First College Class Hype
Expectation: Goodbye, boring high school science, hello college labs! You grow excited seeing your older friends post videos of dissections, explosions and weird professors who make students dance when their phones go off in class. Surely with all that combined, a 75-minute lecture will fly by when you get to do cool science-y experiments.
Reality: “My first biology class was brutal. I couldn’t stand the boredom,” said IU freshman Madison Waddle. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep, but who could really stay awake through a 20-minute discussion about clickers? It was easy, too. I just closed my eyes and drifted off. Next thing I knew, somebody was nudging me awake. It scared the bejesus out of me and I swear I jumped off the seat. When I finally realized that I had fallen asleep, I also realized that the cute boy next to me was the one who woke me. Why? To ask for my number. Of course, I gave it to him.”
Expectation: Say goodbye to the days of waiting for the school bus in freezing rain. With a car you gain freedom and control. Cruising to classes seems like a no-brainer, that is, once you secure gas money and the ever-important parking pass for campus. As long as the parking operations don’t snag you on a technicality, what could go wrong?
Reality: “So my car died on Monday at the stadium,” said IU junior Cortni Henry. “I went and got a new battery. Then Tuesday morning it was dead again, so I called a tow truck and he fixed the clamp around my battery with a beer tab. Wednesday morning same thing happened. The tow truck came, the driver pulled out the beer tab and tightened the clamp with a tool this time. Finally my car died Thursday and it got towed directly to the dealership. Apparently the battery I got on Monday was dead when I bought it, but Auto Zone is giving me a new one!”
Expectation: Your emails back and forth finally culminate in your first meeting. A tiny dorm room complete with two coordinating bedspreads won’t take long to decorate. You both planned a long list of crafts from crayons melting on canvas to dream catchers to bond together. You didn’t get matched up with a roommate for the year—you found your BFF or #brotilyoudie.
Reality: “Freshman year, it was move-in day and I was talking to my friend as I was opening the door,” said IU sophomore Mallory Anson. “When I swung it open and my roommate and her boyfriend were on the floor, but at first glance all we saw were the naked bodies. They yelled ‘Just a minute!’ and jammed the door back on my hand, shutting us out. I was sexiled on the first day and I proceeded to tell anyone who would listen.”