Out of all the college kids in my neighborhood, I’m the only one that decided she could handle living in a dorm with someone she had never met while navigating an extremely large campus at a school that hadn’t been her first choice. And yet, as I approach week 2 of official “college life,” I’ve discovered that I inadvertently chose happiness.
I actually moved in early because I’m a student in a living-learning community on campus (namely, the Honors LLC). Was I nervous that I was taking part in orientation like a stereotypical freshman? Yes, but it turned out to be one of the smartest decisions I made. If your university offers a chance to move onto campus early, especially if the campus is huge like mine, I highly recommend taking advantage of it.
This allowed me to walk my schedule days in advance, and, more importantly, I figured out how to use the bus service so I could save time while traveling from place to place.
Orientation was also fantastic for me because I was able to bond quickly with other freshmen in my building. I’d be lying if I said I know everyone by now, but it’s definitely a relief when you know you can at least identify people by face and wave hello.
My roommate (let’s call her Harmony) and I have been getting along well, and, in general terms, I think that’s really important as you adjust. We’ve attended campus events together at our university’s main quad and football stadium, and we actually just got accepted into the same choir. Harmony doesn’t have the same major as me, and her classes aren’t even on the same quad as mine. That being said, we bonded fast because we took the time to get to know each other.
I know that some freshmen get stuck with a horror story of a roommate sometimes, but realize that this is not
a common event that occurs. On the off chance it does, be amicable. There isn’t any rulebook that says your first roommate will be your best friend for years down the road, but it’s more mature to handle the situation by treating each other with respect. And if your first roommate just so happens to become your closest friend in life? Make every moment count, and maybe adopt a fish or two along the way.
“Welcome Week” was when I was genuinely surrounded by 30,000 people. While orientation made the campus feel smaller, the first week made everything turn gigantic again when all the students were finally on campus. It gets small again, though, especially when you realize that your feet recognize where you’re headed (or when you casually have Google Maps at the ready on your phone).
Most universities hold numerous events during week one, so don’t be surprised if your email gets filled with invitations for free food, free shirts, or even free ice skating opportunities. As I like to say, “free stuff is good stuff,” so take advantage of it while you still can before your time becomes limited by class and student organization meetings. The bookstore on our campus gave away coupons that entire week, which came in handy when the textbook rush started. Harmony and I even paired up so we could pick up double the stuff.
Whether or not your college has a “Welcome Week,” keep an eye out for free events like these and check them out with your roommate or other friends that you’ve made during your first few days. It’s quite a rush, and, hey, you all get free items or food while spending time together.
Altogether, adjusting to college life wasn’t difficult in my experience because I was willing to make connections and was eager to explore campus. Sure, a small campus would have meant less walking and maybe even the elimination of having to dorm, but it was worth it in the end because I took a step out of my comfort zone and successfully joined a new community.
To all of the new college freshmen like myself: Enjoy your newfound freedom, and take advantage of every opportunity you can!
To every student who is fast-approaching college: You’ve got plenty to be excited about!
Here’s to the start of something new…