We had our last floor meeting last night and freshman orientation is officially over. Of course, that means I’ll be starting classes today. I’ll be blogging all about orientation but first I thought I’d share some tips on how to survive the first week or few days of college.
This is based on my Carnegie Mellon orientation experience, which is very intense and eventful.
- Deodorant/Body Spray - Especially if it’s going to be hot during orientation. You’re going to be running back and forth to your dorm between events and it’s completely okay to apply several layers of deodorant. Go for it.
- Comfortable Shoes – Most people opt for sneakers or slip-ons. You will be doing a LOT of running.
- Pockets or a Bag – Seriously. You do NOT want to lose your phone or room key on the very first day.
- Money - This isn’t absolutely essential, but there were one or two times where I had to borrow money from my roommate or a friend.
- Water – You will be dehydrated from running around all day. BRING WATER. If your school is fabulous like CMU, there will be plenty of fountains to fill your water bottle.
- Be mindful of your attitude. Try not to appear bored or closed; This will make it so much easier to meet people.
- Attend the orientation events! Even if they sound boring, you may learn something and gain some new insights. Usually they turn out to be pretty fun and interesting, and if they don’t, well, you only get to go through orientation once. And if your orientation doesn’t plan a lot of events, be proactive! Go down to your dorm lounge and just meet new people! I’ve met many friends that way, talking until 3AM and making midnight ramen.
- Organize your room. Once classes really get started you won’t have a lot of free time, so unpack, find a place for everything, get all your books and software in order.
- Put the electronics away. During my orientation week I barely used my computer or iPad at all. It’s best to minimize your time in your dorm and go out to meet people. I’ve been told that orientation is one of the best parts of the college experience so don’t miss it! And although many people may be on their smartphones 24/7, resist the urge, because it seems rude and unsociable.
- Explore. My RA showed our floor around on the last day but it helps if you explore on your own too. Figure out where your classes are, where the printers are, where the best eating places are. Explore the library (I have yet to do this). Scout out all the hotspots for studying or just hanging out.
- Don’t be shy. As terrified as you are to talk to strangers and meet new friends, I guarantee that almost everyone else is feeling that way as well. Just go up and talk to someone! What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe you don’t click and you just never see the person again. Or maybe you’ve just made your new best friend. With confidence, my attitude is pretty much fake it till you make it. On the first night of orientation the freshmen went around to all the dorms to participate in random activities and get free food. For a while I just hung out with friends on my floor and awkwardly made conversation with anyone who came up to us. But after about half an hour of that I got tired of the awkwardness and decided to take things into my own hands. I spent the next two hours squeezing into groups and yelling “HEY GUYS, WANNA BE MY FRIENDS?” No joke, I literally did just that. While going around forcing people to be my friends we exchanged some nice generic platitudes and such, but at the end of the night I finally clicked with a group of guys who turned out to be from my rival high school, which was pretty fantastic. We had a pretty great talk and still talk and remember each others’ names, which is more than I can say for most people I met at orientation.
- Learn to dance. If your orientation is as crazy as mine, there will be lots of dance parties and events where you’ll have to know how to bust a move. I’m completely awful at dancing, but I find that my awkward moves are a great conversation starter. And anyway, at a school like CMU, not many people know how to dance anyway, so I’m in the majority. Just don’t be afraid to look like a fool because that’s how the fun gets started.
- Say yes as much as possible. Be open to new things. Attend events. Get out and meet new people! On my second night at midnight I was hanging out with a couple of friends and I saw a guy whose name I’d asked several times earlier in my randomly selected activities group. If he hadn’t decided to turn around and sit down, and I hadn’t had the audacity to call his name, I would’ve missed out on making a new friend. JUST SAY YES!
You may not ever see your orientation friends again. You may have thought that orientation was boring and pointless. But do try to have fun and live it up, because you only get one.