Incoming Freshmen: 10 Ways to Prep for Temple University

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For baby Owls leaving the nest for Temple, moving away for college can make a month feel like an hour. One minute, your only obligations include occupying your summer vacation time to your leisure. The next, your obligations include packing up your life, buying a truckload of new things and moving somewhere new. In your case, you may move to Temple University soon. But you may want to get some physical, mental, spiritual and financial prep done before you start packing your bags. How else will you get ahead of your freshman classmates and take on the title of an experienced Temple Owl?

The following advice for Temple freshmen will help you learn master navigating Temple.

1. Get ready to talk to strangers

Strangers will likely be your life line in many situations. They’ll tell you who has free sandwiches by the Bell Tower. They’ll tell you where and when therapy dogs come to campus. You can only Google so much before you need to ask someone how to get to the second floor of Anderson (don’t try to find it on your own). Your time to explore new reaches of life approaches, so try and get to know students from all schools of Temple. “People who lived on my floor and random [students] I’ve met at parties have turned out to be my absolute best friends. It can be scary to meet new people but everyone is looking for new friends all the time,” Temple sophomore Athena Angulo said. Not everyone feels comfortable with randomly striking up conversation with a stranger in the mile-long morning rush line at Richie’s, so start small. Talk about commonalities with your roommates, your classmates, people you inevitably see around campus from your hometown, and anyone who catches your eye.

2. Embrace Philadelphia crazy

You won’t walk a block without seeing Eagles paraphernalia or go a day without hearing “Go birds!” shouted from any given rooftop. Something as simple as cheesesteaks can evoke a passionate argument. This should give you a hint about the city you’ll call home for four plus years. Exploring the place that you live in will make you more knowledgeable, and a more experienced person and Philadelphian. Visit Northern Liberties and the awesome concerts at Festival Pier. Check out the vintage pieces at Philly Aids Thrift on South Street. Make friends with students from any of the campuses all around the city, like Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, UPenn or Drexel. Get acquainted with the SEPTA (your soon-to-be best friend) and with Temple’s shuttle system (a.k.a. Flight). Don’t let Philadelphia’s reputation scare you away from learning its culture inside and out.

3. Temple doesn’t deserve the unsafe reputation it gets

Don’t let the belief that Temple’s location in North Philadelphia automatically makes it an unusually unsafe atmosphere. Temple University does sit in the middle of Northern Philadelphia, a historically African American area of the city. But like any metropolitan area, some danger can occur if you don’t take precautions. Common sense and trusting your gut may help you often. And like any campus, you’ll find more than enough resources exist to keep you safe at Temple. A large portion of the student population lives off-campus, so Temple University goes to great lengths to keep its student body safe, wherever they call home. Plus, Lil Uzi Vert, emo rapper (and patron saint of North Philadelphia) originates from here, so give the area the respect it deserves.

4. Venture off Temple campus for better deals

Not knowing your resources throughout the general Cecil B. Moore area will give you a lot of grief. Your grocery list will inevitably double in size within your first month of the semester, and you’ll find it best to know where to get things conveniently and for cheap. Sure, you could go to the bookstore at the bottom of the Student Center—which jacks up the price (isn’t our tuition money enough?). But when you need to find bleach wipes, hot pockets, a desk lamp, batteries and an avocado at 4 a.m., Fresh Grocer, the 24-hour grocery store right next to Morgan Hall, will save you in your time of need. “Invest in an independent light source so the unlucky roommate that sleeps under the light doesn’t have to be constantly BLINDED,” sophomore Richard Dobbs said. You can also pick up a very necessary pair of earbuds or get your phone repaired at the T-Mobile store across from Morgan Dining. You might even want to take the Broad Street Line down to the Mom’s Grocery Store in Center City for some top tier vegan options. Options exist all around you if you’re willing to go out and get to them.

5. Wear whatever you want

Don’t break the bank or stifle your own individuality trying to get clothes that will make you fit in. In college, particularly at Temple University, you can spread your fashionable wings as far as you want. Within a few weeks, you may start to notice that in a big city, fashion seems more eccentric. Combined with students seeing college as a time and place to expand your horizons, Temple’s campus acts as an outlet for creative, outlandish and beautiful student fashion. Try shopping at Philly Aids Thrift on South Street or the local thrift store near Temple’s campus on 15th Street. Wear what you want, put in as little or as much effort at you want, go to class in pajamas or those checkerboard pants you bought from UNIF in 2015 but were too nervous to wear to school; someone out there might love them and if not, it only matters if you love them.

6. The stereotype about awful dining halls may have some truth to it.

Look inside yourself and consider: am I truly willing to stand in this mile-long line for Chick-fil-a? If you don’t know where to look, you can fall victim to the terrible dining hall food stereotype. “The dining hall is exactly what you would expect. Not the best food… Temple does tend to a variety of dietary needs but be prepared to eat the same things,” Angulo said. With that in mind, if you want amazing vegetarian tomato soup in the middle of an awful Philadelphia winter, consider Cosi. If you want amazing service, consider Postmates. “Always remember to be kind and courteous to those who are serving you,” Angulo added. While the promising food trucks on every street of the campus seems uber delicious, know that they don’t take Diamond Dollars. If you want to venture outside of the constraints of your meal plan, set aside some money to explore the great food options like the Creperie or Royal Tea. Pro Tip: Never, ever underestimate the magic of a bacon, egg and cheese from any of the local bodegas.

7. Temple has hundreds of student orgs to join

Walking into crowds of people and risking interacting with strangers may seem like an extrovert’s dream and introvert’s death sentence. But give the events of Welcome Week a chance to help you get yourself out there. If nothing else, keep an eye out for TempleFest, a culmination of hundreds of orgs vying for your attention. And if that doesn’t entice you, there’s usually free food. Organizations like a plethora of fraternities or clubs as niche as Community Cats Club want nothing more than new members. The same social pyramid that kept seniors from befriending freshman in high school doesn’t quite exist in college. Some of the potential friends you can meet by joining clubs may include some juniors and seniors with an endless supply of words of advice for you.

8. Sometimes city life and college life don’t mix

80 percent of the time Temple’s location in Philly offers awesome opportunities and a gateway to future success. But, sometimes you’ll run into the other 20 percent, like screaming drunk classmates at 3 a.m., constant honking and the tons of motorcyclists that race down Broad once a week. The sounds and smells of the area don’t quite characterize Temple University but they’ll occasionally annoy you half to death. You can try to avoid this with a few simple solutions. Find some good quality earbuds for noise and learn shortcuts and train maps for traffic. These may give you the instant gratification of avoiding momentary annoyance, though eventually you’ll grow thicker skin and easily live with it all.

9. Want a spot to hang? Expect a challenge

Eventually you’ll earn about the ritual students often do as soon as they enter any lounging area in the SAC, library or coffee shops. They’ll walk into the area, wander around looking for a seat, fail to find one, turn around and leave. (And then repeat). You can avoid this by going to these buildings when students leave to go to class. Lucky times: between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Or consider sitting outside on a blanket at Beury Beach on warmer days. But be warned, it gets hella crowed in the beginning of the fall semester and the end of spring semester. If you want to study, instead of the bottom floor of the library, where the “stay quiet in the library rule” doesn’t really exist, try the TECH Center, the lobby of the SERC or the Annenberg Hall atrium (a hidden gem).

10. Don’t let some gen-eds easily entice you.

The pain and suffering of required classes from high school doesn’t quite go away in college. Temple University goes to great lengths to make gen-eds less of a hassle. But some classes may entice you with a fun title, only to hit you with stacks of homework and complicated course material. Shoutout to Chemistry of Wine (stay away!). Do your research on classes before you sign up for them, like reading up in the FB groups or online. “Start early, four years go by fast,” Temple junior Ayooluwa Ariyo said. While you can absolutely add and drop classes at your leisure, that doesn’t mean the seat in a class you do want won’t get taken by another student. Do your best to know what you want to get into before you sign up for Statistics in the News to get your math requirement over with. Ask other students, ask the professors or ask counselors. Get the help you need to make your academic life as easy as possible.

It's pronounced Oh-moh-nee-kay. Young, Nigerian, and broke. Sophomore journalism major and french minor at Temple University ('21)

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