The Rookie: 10 Tips to Use Freshman Year

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Leaving home sounds like a great idea until you are sobbing into a tub of ice cream and calling your mom about your homesickness. The first year isn’t easy, but it’s an experience you will never forget. Check out ten ways to take advantage of your first year: the good, the bad, the smelly and the drunk. God knows you’ll tell the stories during wine night when you’re 30.

1. Laugh a lot

You don’t know what you’re doing and your roommate sure as hell doesn’t either, so know that you are going to make mistakes like everyone else. Learning to laugh at yourself is one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned. If you take yourself too seriously you’re doomed to be Oscar the Grouch. Or worse: Get premature wrinkles.

2. Say hi to people

Not just people you know – say hi to the Starbucks barista, the bus driver, your roommate, even that random guy in the laundry room. Most people are alone at college; they don’t live within walking distance of their parents anymore. It gets lonely and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of college life. Just stop and smile at someone – it will make your day and his.

3. Do your laundry at odd hours

Unless you want to be waiting an hour for a washer and then another for a dryer, do it in the middle of the week when everyone is in class. Pro tip: If you push the coin return on some machines, they give you money back.

4. Go to the gym

Okay, so I am not huge on the working out thing. I sweat too much, and I don’t like the way my thighs jiggle. Needless to say, I avoid physical activity as much as I can, but I still highly recommend it. It’s therapeutic. Adjusting to classes and campus make the first year of college especially stressful. If you aren’t into using the machines or watching guys “lift,” then take a class. My ten out of ten recommendation would be Zumba, because a) booty music and b) you get to yell.

5. Give in to the drunchies

In a state of inebriation, I begin to crave greasy food. You know, the kind that makes you hate and love America at the same time. Eat it. It’s satisfying, reliable and dare I say it… heavenly. You can work out later. You are young, you are wild, you are free. Treat yo’ self.

6. Call your friends…don’t text

A common misconception about “keeping in touch” is that the occasional text will suffice. Texting is fast and easy, yes, but when you send “I miss you” texts you don’t realize how much you miss that person until you hear their voice on the phone. It’s all about making sure that connection is still there. It became a tradition with my best friend from home to call when we needed to vent. Call, don’t text; it’s as simple as that.

7. Just go

I was so used to having to be invited to hang out in high school that my feelings were hurt when I wasn’t invited to things right away in college. But then I realized college is a no-invitation zone (unless it’s a frat party—who do you know here?). Invite yourself, or don’t, but you’re going to regret not going when you hear about how your friends got into that party through a window that one time.

8. Don’t look for love

Our expectations of romance in a school setting have been so tainted by books and movies (I’m talking about you, High School Musical franchise) that we get discouraged when we don’t immediately fall in love on the first day of class…or burst into song. Don’t look for love. If it happens, then great. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world. Not many things are permanent in college. For crying out loud, you get new teachers every five months; go with the flow.

9. Be who you want to be

If you want to walk around campus in your pajamas with your cereal in one hand and lack of shame in the other, do it. If you want to wear red lipstick to your 8 a.m., do it. If you want to shave your head, do it. Life is too short to be scared of what people think. So if you want to be something, be that shit.

10. Party hard, study harder…or smarter

Don’t just party; study. Don’t just study; party. This is one of the few times in life where you will be able to get home at 3 a.m. drunk off your ass, throw up shamelessly in the communal bathroom and pick yourself to go to the library the next day. Be a bad ass. The first year of college is crazy, weird and beautiful. It drains you, shows you who you are and what you’re made of, but most importantly: It’s the pregame to the rest of your four years.

A freshman psychology major at the University of Florida. Low-key a unicorn, dances in supermarkets and lives vicariously through Vanessa Hudgens.

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