Dear freshman Sydney,
I’m here to offer you some advice and pro-tips on surviving your first year on campus. Your freshman year is an exciting time for sure, but you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and homesick. Not to worry, you will figure it all out and your inaugural year will go down in history.
Still, I do have some advice to help you get through your freshman year of college.
First off, you can relax on the Pinterest board rabbit hole you have fallen down because your dorm room will never look that picturesque no matter how hard you try: the reality of living in a space that small won’t allow it. Don’t fret. Your dorm can still be adorable even if you don’t have a canopy headboard.
Do not sign up for an 8 a.m.—like, ever. Living in a co-ed, community bathroom style dorm (bring. shower. shoes.) will not allow you to go to sleep before 2 a.m. Lean into this new sleep schedule and schedule classes for 10 a.m. at the earliest so you make sure you actually get to class on time. Plus, you will find these late night chats with your hall mates to be some of the fondest memories of freshman year, so don’t fret the late nights—enjoy them.
On that note, actually go to class…and take notes. Maybe even go to office hours every once in a while. Your professors want to help you so listen to their advice and start off college with good study habits. Find your favorite study nook in the library, do not succumb to the Red Bull craze and remember to find some time to goof off with your roommate. Speak up in class when you know the right answer. Engage in your group projects and don’t be afraid to have a ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ idea. Make the most of the opportunity to meet people in classes and hear other’s ideas.
Make sure your meal plan cash lasts longer than the first three weeks of the quarter. I know having an Einstein’s on campus means temptation left and right, but make sure that you remain frugal enough to have your meal plan cash last you at least until midterms. The dining hall food doesn’t taste*that* bad anyways.
Get off campus and explore your new city. Try new restaurants (two words: pad thai), explore the parks and check out the art museum. Figure out which movie theatre will become your go-to for the next four years. Take your friends and talk each others ears off the entire drive back to campus.
Don’t feel pressured into partying if it really isn’t your thing. There is more to life than beer pong and house parties. You can have just as much fun going to the movies or exploring a new hiking trail. Push yourself to meet new people and invite them along.
Keep Sundays reserved strictly for sleeping in, crawling to the dining hall for endless bowls of cereal and watching movies with your roommate. Make sure to bring a Bluetooth speaker because this will turn your laptop into your makeshift theatre and favorite homework distraction.
Remember to keep in touch with friends back home. Have hour long Facetime sessions where you delve into coursework, weekend drama and how you sometimes miss the simplicity of hanging out in front of the high school lockers. Don’t worry though, break will roll around faster than you can imagine and you will be reunited. And you may even realize that you can make your friendship stronger despite the distance.
Call mom and dad. FaceTime your sister and insist she show you the cats (you know you miss them). Tell everyone about your classes and new friends. Tell them how homesick you are and that you miss them. The plague of homesickness doesn’t mean that you can’t still feel excited to finally be in college. Send them pictures of campus so they can see your world and let them know you understand how lucky you feel to live on such a beautiful campus.
Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff. The biggest stressors and freshman year drama that plague your mind won’t even exist anymore by the time senior year rolls around, believe me. Freshmen year is a big chapter but it doesn’t define your whole college experience. You’ll find so many adventures to experience so just enjoy being the new kid on campus and allow yourself to open up to these new experiences and friendships.