The first week of college may not be the most stressful or overwhelming of your higher education career, but it is sure to be one of the most nerve-wracking. You've spent weeks, if not months, preparing for your move—you’ve bought extra-long twin size sheets, a shower caddy big enough for all your bath accessories, and enough notebooks to last you all four years. It can be hard to look past the hustle and bustle of move-in day and to that weird period between then and when classes start in earnest, but it’s important to remember that there are some big events going on, some of which will be mandatory. Warning 1: No matter how much money you’ve spent in the “dorm essentials” section of Bed, Bath and Beyond, there will almost certainly turn out to be something that you’ve forgotten. For example, I—in an unprecedented stroke of genius—forgot clothes hangers when I was packing to move into my dorm for my second year of college. Before you hit the local Target (or, if you’re like me and your college town is too small to have a Target, Walmart), though, take 24 hours if you possibly can. The store is sure to be packed on first-year move-in day, and they may even run out of certain popular items. Once you’re all moved in and acquainted with your new room and maybe your roommate, the interesting part of your first week of college will begin. Warning 2: Be prepared for quite a bit of forced socialization during your welcome week. There will be a lot of get-to-know-you games and more than a few awkward, supposed-to-be-humorous sketches that illustrate what not to do in certain situations. Warning 3: Also, be warned that there will probably be a few mandatory events and online training courses that you will have to complete in order to be able to “pass” welcome week. If you don’t do these, or if you don’t complete all the components of each event, you may not be able to graduate on time, or you may have to worry about finishing them at the end of your senior year. For example, during my welcome week, I had to do a library tour and an online alcohol workshop that made sure that every student knew the possible consequences of underage drinking. Warning 4: Welcome week seems to universally fall into two seemingly contradictory categories: hugely boring, with lots of down time; and insanely busy, with far more social activities and required events than seemed necessary. It’s an odd combination, sure, but that’s how it felt to me and many of my friends. I hope that there will be something you enjoy about your welcome week, though even if there isn't, keep in mind that it is definitely not a reflection of what college is really like. Seriously, not even a little. Welcome week will help you get more comfortable with your surroundings and college life in general, but I think you’ll find that in reality, college is much more hectic and enjoyable than you could ever imagine.
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