Frosh-cessities: The Seven Deadly Mentalities of Freshman Orientation

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As summer comes to an end, first-year college students around America will be pumped through the exciting yet cringe-inducing process of college orientation. The event somehow walks the line between purgatory and platonic speed dating. Students spend excruciating hours sitting down for awkward seminars and icebreaker sessions. The three questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?” and “Where are you living?” will be repeated millions of times until responses start sounding like they’re coming out of Siri. For some, orientation means newfound independence; for others, it is the gift of a blank canvas and a chance to start over. However, all feel the constant pressure to give off the right first impression to the right people.

Despite the superficial nature of the first days on campus, freshman orientation shouldn’t be something you float through. This is the only time in college where everyone is in the same social boat; everyone is looking for friends. The shared experience makes it easy to meet loads of people from different backgrounds and possibly make connections to last the next four years and beyond.

To get the most out of orientation, I recommend avoiding the following seven mentalities:

1. “This is so stupid.”

You’ve had nightmares based on posts on the accepted students Facebook page and now believe everyone is dorky, snobbish, and/or overexcited to a level that would make even Michael Scott cringe. You’re the only normal one here. Maybe it’s best to skip orientation altogether and lay low for a while.

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Please. Not everyone will be straight outta Cringefest 2015. If you shut yourself out of orientation, you will miss opportunities to both find friends and learn how to navigate the complicated and often confusing Brown system. Although some events wont hurt to skip [Ed. Not that we’re condoning this], make sure you at least go to convocation, and learn the names of everyone on your floor.

2. “No parents! No rules!”

You’re free from the parents!!! Now is your time to GET WASTED!

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25* Things Learned from Freshman Year

Our editors asked us to make a list of 50 things we learned during our freshman year–so naturally we decided to do 25. Blog is S/NC right??

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1. Points are not unlimited.

Hank: I made it rain in the Blue Room the first week of first semester… until all of my points were gone.

Jack: I took a little longer than Hank to realize this cold truth. To be honest, I didn’t really know what points were. Turns out points are just a cute way of saying money.

2. How to Navigate the Gender-Neutral Bathrooms.

Hank: My only tip for any user of a communal, gender neutral bathroom is to wear someone else’s shoes.

Jack: I only wear Hank’s shoes.

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3. What is open late late night.

Hank: Sometimes you need food past Jo’s hours: that is the beauty of Foodler (New York Pizza is my spot).

Jack: Hank is a much better authority on this since rumor has it that he actually lives in one of the booths at Jo’s.

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10 things I would tell myself if I were starting college again

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Bonus advice: Skip Chicken Finger Friday’s long lines and hit up the Ratty’s sporadic chicken finger days instead

This post is anonymous to make everything a little more comfortable. 

Often, around this time of year, you’ll see a whole batch of articles and listicles and other such forms of printed-word media that provide advice on how to start college (or how to start sophomore year, senior year, etc.) from people who have already been through it. I never got that much out of those articles, because it was hard for me to trust that the experience was universal enough to apply to a general audience of readers. I wanted to make my own contribution to the genre, but I knew I would bore myself to death if I didn’t put at least a little twist on it. So I decided to do what I was really doing in my head anyway, which is write advice specifically to my past self. Because, man, my first semester was not as good as it could have been. It was still fun, and I have plenty of fond memories looking back. But there’s no doubt in my mind that it was easily the worst of the four I’ve had at Brown so far and, barring my contraction of a serious mono-like illness this year, likely should be the worst of my first six semesters as well. There are a number of things I wish I’d heard from future me before I got started. Here they are, in no particular order. I doubt all, or even most, will apply to you, but I suspect that there are some people out there who will be able to relate to each one. Which would be cool. Here we go:

1. Don’t be a douche to your roommate. I’ve never been very good at first impressions, but I suspect that the one I made on my roommate was one of the worst. Even the messages I sent him in the Facebook exchange before school started were douchey, and then things got even worse when we met in person. I had an incredibly immature argument with my mom within a minute of entering our room, where he was waiting to meet me. Once we were alone, I bombarded him with inane, incredibly un-self-aware comments about my background and my views on college social life. I don’t know whether he remembers these interactions quite as vividly as I do–I hope not–but I would bet pretty confidently that they contributed a great deal to our near total lack of communication first semester.

2. But also don’t stress about whether you’ll be best friends. Even if I had been some sort of angelic incarnation of myself for the first month of my relationship with my roommate, I’m nearly 100% sure we wouldn’t have been more than friendly acquaintances anyway. He’s an incredibly nice and talented guy, but we just didn’t have that much in common. No matter what transpired between us, we would have found our ways to very different social groups pretty quickly. Contrary to what I thought when I showed up at college, however, becoming BFFs with your roommate just isn’t that important. Nearly guaranteed, everyone makes a few friends in their unit within the first week or two, and if they don’t, it’s usually because they’ve already formed a group around some other interest outside of the unit. A few people I know took a little longer to find their crew, but they found it eventually. There are so many cool people at Brown that it’s more or less irrelevant whether you hit it off with your roommate or your neighbors or even your hallmates. There are plenty of people to meet and opportunities to befriend them.

3. And remember, the friends you do make don’t have to be your friends for the rest of collegeI recall that I put a lot of pressure on myself to essentially identify my senior year housing group by the end of orientation, i.e. I really wanted to solidify my close friend circle as quickly as possible. But that’s not how it works at all. Friendships in college are way more fluid (at least they have been for me) than friendships in high school, and you’ll make more friends as you try different things or take different classes. Some of them will stick around longer than others, and that’s not a good or bad thing–just a sign of with whom you really have a connection and with whom you don’t. I met my sophomore-year roommate (who was my next-door neighbor) and a handful of other friends who I see fairly often during first semester shopping period, but I didn’t even know a majority of the people with whom I’m in close contact until second semester or even sophomore year.

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