Out of the Pouch: A New Roo’s Guide to Austin College

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Austin College freshmen, you are new Roos. You’ve toured campus, have a shirt that says “Roo Crew,” but what is RooNation?

Austin College isn’t a typical college campus in the heart of some busy city. You won’t find a crazy bar scene, huge Greek houses or a multi-million-dollar football stadium. You won’t have intro level classes with 400 people or a TA teaching for the whole semester.

Here you’ll see the maintenance staff giving perpetually late students rides to class in golf carts, professors singing Christmas carols in the lunchroom and our very own First Dog of Austin College, Biscuit, walking around campus (or on Instagram).

Now let’s give you some Austin College tips to navigate RooNation.

1. Strap your (rain)boots on, soldier

Invest in an umbrella, good jacket/windbreaker and a pair of rain boots. Austin College has a old, beautiful campus full of trees and green courtyards, but the sidewalks have definitely seen better days. When it rains, it pours the way you pour that alcohol you probably shouldn’t be drinking—too much. Don’t waste time jumping and dodging small lakes of mud on the way to class. Make sure to put rain boots on your gift list.

2. Excuse me, professor?

Our professors wanted smaller class sizes for a reason. They want to help and know their students. That’s how Roos end up on a first name basis with professors. So go talk to them! The professors genuinely want to make sure you’re doing okay. If you need an extra day, they understand. Once a professor pushed back a test for me while I went through a break up. Brave the potential awkwardness, march in to their offices hours and say hi, there!

3. Hitting the Town

Sherman isn’t the shining capital of hip trends. We don’t even have a bowling alley anymore (tragically lost in the Great Snowpocalypse of 2013). But we do have some local treasures. MG’s does all you can eat burgers Saturdays. The Cinemark has $5 movies Tuesdays. Teriyaki Jar has great specials all week and an Austin College Student discount. Sherman may have a few quirks and some roads that could use a little TLC, but it can be a really great college town now that you know where to look.

4. Preparing for the Cold War

Snow and ice are Sherman’s kryptonite. The city basically shuts down during the winter. Don’t try to drive. I’ve heard too many stories of people driving to a friend’s house during the snow day and sliding into parked cars. Check the weather, buy everything (meaning soup and ramen) ahead of time, get all the friends together for a movie night and wait for the snow. Traveling in bad conditions can be worse than you think.

5. Advice from Your Elders

When picking housing or classes for the next year, you need to talk to upperclassmen. They know the best housing locations, the best classes for certain graduation requirements and the best professors for intro classes. Trust me, you don’t want to get stuck with 8 a.m. yoga class for your fitness requirement. Just ask an upperclassman for their thoughts. Flats or suites for junior year housing? Anything other than Chem111 for lab credit? You’ll be surprised how much advice an upperclassmen can offer, especially if you share a major. (P.S.: It wouldn’t hurt for you to bring some coffee too.)

6. Play Nice with Others

With such a small campus, everyone knows someone in some way. The guy you snapped at in Philosophy class? He is the RA for your crush’s floor and will kick you out after curfew. The girl you cut in line at the coffee shop? She is your peer tutor for Calc I session at the Academic Skill Center. Austin College has a small grapevine here and word spreads fast if you aren’t careful. I’m not saying to be best friends with everyone you meet, but at least try to play nice with others. Kindness helps in the long run during your four years in RooNation.

7. The Last Frontier

Remember when I said everyone knew somone? Well get ready to experience it the most in the library. Everyone you know will walk by and want to talk conveniently when you need to study. That’s why the WCC or the Idea Center instead are the best places to get sh-t done; Both have plenty of hidden workspaces so you won’t be bothered. If you need to study with a group, use one of the community rooms in the dorms or apartments. They have bigger tables, whiteboards and you can be a loud as you want. Camping out for a serious study session? I recommend going to one of the local diners like Sweetberries or Tracks. They have great food, endless supply of coffee and you’ll get some solid study time.

8. Tonight, we shall feast!

Sometime during your college career, you become sick of ramen. At this moment, feeding yourself means leaving the comfort of your room and actually go…outside. But remember these few things: the cafeteria always has good food (and a lot of it) on Campus Preview days, most campus events are catered and free to students and the campus pub has great food for pretty cheap. Specifically for late night food runs, always go to Whataburger. Cold McDonald’s fries can only disappoint so many times.

9. “Interesting…How does that make you feel?”

Take classes that interest you. Austin College is unique in the fact you have to take four different humanities, two social sciences and two science classes in order to graduate. You can try theatre, education, psychology, anthropology, poli-sci and music. These requirements let you explore your interests, especially if they’re outside your major. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a minor.

10. Honey, I’m home.

Decorate your room. Get weird posters at the poster fair. String lights around the ceiling. Put silly quotes on your door. Make your year-long home look lived-in. Decorate the way you see fit with bean bag chairs or a tower of takeout containers. You’ll creating funny college stories making idea boards, shopping lists, thrifting and high-end shopping at places you can’t afford. Soon enough you’ll feel right at home in RooNation.

The Ultimate guide to freshman year of college

Kathryn Van Dinh is a senior at Austin College, where she is majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Creative writing. She has had great experiences as a Mathematical researcher, peer tutor, improv performer, and regular college student. She prides herself in being a jack of all trades, a book lover, and coffee addict.

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