How Do I College? Ed. 3 - First-Week Freshman Fact Sheet

This is kind of me mixing How to Explore Your City with What Do I Do When I Actually Get to College with a little bit of random advice sprinkled here or there. The first week of being a freshman is…well…a little awkward. You’re never quite sure where to be, you don’t have many friends yet, and, well…college is new and strange! So here are a few do’s and don’ts of being a first-week freshman.


Go to orientation events.

Yes, I know, I’m biased since I’m an Orientation Leader. But also, I’ve been through Orientation Events – they aren’t that bad. Sure they can be a bit awkward, but any get-to-know-you game will be like that. The nice thing is that they’re populated by other new kids and BONUS they almost always have free food. And believe me, any free food is good food. Go to at least a couple, chat up some rando’s and try to have a good time. I’ve met some of my closest friends at Orientation events, but even if you don’t, you’ll know a face on campus and that’s always comforting.

Explore your city

[caption id="attachment_95" align="alignright" width="300"] I forget where this was, but we found some cool restaurant![/caption]

Usually, college means moving to someplace you haven’t lived before. This is, at risk of sounding too much like Josh Peck, actually the COOLIEST – you get to discover a whole new place and it’s awesome. So, get out a map and try exploring each neighborhood. Things to look for: cheap eats, nifty little concert venues, and date spots. (PARENTS STOP READING: The easiest way to get to know a city – and the coolest way to find hole-in-the-wall places – is to go get really, really lost. Do it in the middle of the daytime, equipped with a gps in your phone, and wander off to a nice part of town. Except don’t do what I did and get wrapped up in Chinatown for two and a half hours to the point that a crotchety old man throws dumplings at you.)

Get to know your roommates

[caption id="attachment_94" align="alignleft" width="176"] My lovely freshman year roommates during Orientation Week.[/caption]

I had five smiling faces to come home to my freshman year, and we all really got to bond the first week of school. I was usually off running around somewhere, but no matter how crazy I got, those lovelies stuck by me. Even though I had a positive experience, the main thing to keep in mind with roommates is that you don’t necessarily have to be friends (though, hey, that always helps) – above all, you just need to live together. So go have lunch with your roomie, chat about shower schedules, and get excited to live with them for a whole year!

Ask around about places to eat/things to do – then do them!

This sort of goes along with my earlier point, but more toward the action side. I missed out on a lot of cool things freshman year cause I never took the plunge and just tried them. Apparently there’s a trampoline emporium a few subway stops down from me – I always wanted to go, but never did. Also, there’s lazer tagging, a free cupcake day, and an adult’s night at the kid’s museum. What I’m saying is, call yourself (and your new friends!) to action and take advantage of the low homework load to go have some weeknight fun!


Go crazy with the partying

Partying with college is your choice and there’s no judgment here – just don’t go nuts your first week. You’ve only known these people for a few days so in all honesty, you can’t trust them. If you’re going to choose to be under the influence with strangers, you’re stepping into trouble. Also, in your first week you don’t know the good, bad, and ugly areas to have a good time, let alone what sort of trouble you can get into if you’re busted. Just learn from others and take it easy, you should be fine.

Buy the whole mall

I’m not sure what it is, but something about being away from home makes every college student’s debit card stir and wiggle to the point that they will whip out their wallets for literally anything. It doesn’t help that stores know this and sneakily plan back-to-school

[caption id="attachment_96" align="alignright" width="223"] This has nothing to do with the post - it's me at three in the morning wearing my one of my guy friend's shoes. These things are ten times as funny Orientation Week.[/caption]

college-ID-gets-you-10%-off super-sales the very week that you’re being orientee-d. Sure, by a few sweaters and don’t forget to pick up drawer organizers but realize that budgeting is a skill and it really is nice to not have to learn it the hard way.

Regress to just talking to friends from home

Yeah, college is scary. Yeah, the people you’re meeting just won’t feel like friends from home for a while. At risk of sounding like a mother giving her speech in a lifetime movie, it takes time to build new relationships and find people to click with. Drop your friends a text and make sure to call your parents at least once – but after that, go out and find something to do with new people you’ve met. It’ll get better and soon you’ll be telling friends from back home about new adventures.

Feel as though this will be how college is forever.

My first week, I was a little crestfallen. I didn’t get why I wasn’t insta-friends with all the people I’d met, I felt like my classes were too simple (uh, it was the first week, duh), and I was left feeling like college was one big letdown. Believe me, it’ll be awkward and weird and everything will feel really out of wack, but after a month or so, you look back and have a hard time remembering why you felt that way.

So, there are your do’s and don’t’s – of course all of these vary by campus and orientation program, but this is what I’ve found to be pretty true across the board of Welcome-Weeks.

Also, unless I get another suggestion, this will probably be the last of my series. So please, if you have any ideas, let me know! I’d love to write more. :]

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