Surviving The First Week Of College: A How-To Guide
As the new college year approaches, thousands of young people are getting ready to start their university careers. If you’re one of them, don’t panic! Lots of us here at Feminspire have been in the exact same situation, and I’m here to give you a little bit of advice on how to successfully navigate your first week of uni. Learning to balance school and your social life if important. Make sure you set aside enough time to get your general credits out of the way and worry later about if you are going to get your masters of science in nursing. You have a couple of years to decide what you want to do with your education. The friends you make in college and the experiences you have are important, too.
1) Be approachable
When I first moved into my dorm, I put a note outside my door that said “Hi, I’m Kaya! Come in for a chat if you want!”. By the end of the first week, I had people coming down from other floors and saying “hey, you’re the girl with the sign on her door, aren’t you?”. It was a really nice ice-breaker and it made people think of me as someone willing to talk to people and make friends. A lot of people in my corridor kept their door propped open for the first few weeks, as a way to signal that they were cool with people coming in and introducing themselves. As long as you knock first, going into someone’s room and striking up a conversation with them can be a really great way to meet the people around you.
2) Find your way around campus
Take some time out to walk around your campus and find out where everything is. Not only will it be nice to have some time to yourself amongst the craziness of the first week, but there are few things more embarrassing than turning up late to your first lecture – so get acquainted with the buildings you’ll be in! Knowing where you are and how to get around will also make the campus feel a whole lot less intimidating, and much more like home.
3) Go to all your introductory lectures
I know the first week of college is supposed to be a whole lot of getting drunk and making friends, but there are some important things in there, too. Your introductory lectures are a great way to meet people on your course, and also to make sure that you’re doing the right thing. Sometimes you think you know what you want to do in college, but once you go to the introductions, you realise it’s not what you expected. If you catch it quick enough, you have time to change (this probably doesn’t apply to people in the USA, ‘cause you guys are lucky ducks who don’t have to specialise straight away). You can also use those opportunities as a way to introduce yourself to your lecturers!
4) Go grocery shopping
Hopefully you’ll have brought a fair amount of food with you when you moved in, but it’s still important to go grocery shopping in the first few days if you’re not in catered accommodation. Gather a few of your hallmates together and take a trip to the supermarket; it’s an easy way to bond, and you can always split the cost of communal items like milk, flour and butter. The first few weeks of uni are a minefield of illnesses (freshers flu has its own name for a reason, people), so make sure you stock up on fruit and veg. If money’s tight — which it probably will be, because you’re a student now — tinned and frozen produce is much cheaper, and will also last longer.
5) Go to the freshman fair
I think most universities have a freshers fair in the first week. If yours doesn’t, this obviously doesn’t apply to you — but if that’s something your uni offers, you should definitely take advantage of it. It’s a great way to find out what clubs and societies are offered; you can often put yourself on the mailing list without committing to join or paying a fee, so sign up for anything and everything! Plus, at my uni, Domino’s gave out free pizza at the freshers fair. So you know.
6) Decorate your room
Not everyone loves unpacking as much as I do (don’t laugh, someone’s gotta do it), but it’s so important to get it done as soon as possible. Living in a messy dorm room with boxes and bags everywhere is not going to make you feel at home, and it’s just going to stress you out even more. If you’ve brought photographs, posters, fairy lights or other decorations with you, then put them up! If not, there’ll probably be a cheap poster fair during the first week where you can get something cute to put on your walls. Anything that makes your room more cosy and comforting will make the transition much easier.
7) Try not to contact home too much
I’ve read guides that explicitly say “call home!” in their first-week advice section, but honestly, I’m inclined to disagree. For me, the best way to stop feeling homesick during the first week was to throw myself into everything going on around me, rather than worrying about what was going on at home. I actually skyped my then-boyfriend on my first night at uni, crying because I felt so homesick, and he gently coaxed me into going back out and having fun – and you know what? I’m so glad I did.
Obviously, you don’t have to cut yourself off completely from your family, friends and old life. If you feel like you need to give your mum a call to tell her you love her, that’s okay (although if she’s anything like mine, she’ll have called you twenty times already to see how you’re settling in). Just don’t make the mistake of letting your head live back in your hometown, because it’ll make it so much harder to make university your new home.
8) Don’t stress about making friends
Of course you’ll want to make friends as soon as you possibly can, and you probably will – but bear in mind that a lot of the time, the people you hang around with right at the beginning aren’t always going to be your BFFs. It’s super comforting to have someone to stick with during the first scary bits, but don’t stress about it if you feel like everyone else is much closer than you, or if everyone else seems much more sorted. Things have a way of working themselves out, and once it’s less hectic, friendship groups will shift and evolve and you’ll find your place. I promise.
Do you have any tips for the first week of university? If you’ve been there and done that, how did you cope? Share with us in the comments!