College is a daunting prospect. Freshman, or RATS as they are called at my school, are thrust into an entirely new world and must quickly adjust.
Now entering the final stretch of my own freshman year, I feel it is my duty to pass on words of wisdom to the freshmen of 2014. Advice that I wish had been given to me as I entered this phase of life.
First, laundry. “Sort out darks and lights, and wash them separately.” I’m sure you’ve heard your own moms say it. But really, no. Unless an article of clothing was just bought and has never been washed before, go ahead and wash the blacks and whites and colors all in the same load. It saves on time, money, and detergent. I sorted out all my clothes the first week I did laundry and took twice as long as my roommate. Never again. To date, no bleeding has occurred.
Second, cooking. You will probably get a meal plan the first year. I certainly did. But it is still definitely worth investing in a good pot and pan. Utensils too; plastic ones are fine and can in fact be washed and reused. College dining areas are often closed or have shortened hours on school holidays, and cooking will be necessary. You may be thinking that you can’t cook to save your life, but believe me, you can. Just follow the instructions on the packages, and you will be fine. The first time I used the kitchen was to bake cookies. The most I had ever done before was heat up take-out in the microwave, and I was terrified that I would set off the fire alarm. I waited until 3 in the morning so no one would see me, then went to a kitchen two floors down in my dorm. I figured if worst came to worst, I could run and no one would suspect me. The alarm did not go off, my cookies were delicious, and I have made them several times since on my own floor.
Third, RAs. Some colleges only have one on each floor; I personally had the privilege of two. These are the first line of defense, or the people you go to when life goes downhill. Problems with roommates? Problems with school work or family or relationships? How about just lonely and needing to talk? RAs. “But it will be awkward”, you say. “Or, I don’t really want to bother them, it isn’t that important.” They are there to help you. Yes, they are students also, and have schedules. Just send a text beforehand or set up a meeting time that works for you both. Yes, talking to them is sometimes awkward. Especially if something really bad has happened. I once spent three hours crying on the floor in one of my RA’s rooms, eventually kicking her out because I needed to be alone and there were people in the hallway. Just remember that they are there to keep you safe and to be your friend. Trust them.
Lastly, roommates. Obviously, your roommate will be one of the first people you meet and one of the closest people to you. He or she will see you at your best and worst. When you are dressed for a date or interview, and when you have just woken up with bird-nest hair and wearing the most hideous pajamas you own. They will see you at 4am fire drills and all-nighter study sessions and when you have been pushed by stress to the point of crying and hysterical laughter all at once. They will hear all of your dramas countless times and help you make up interpretive dances that your RA does while blaring music next door. I was lucky. My roommate was the best thing that could have happened to me. She got me through breakups and family drama, and even offered to let me go home with her when going to my own house wasn’t an option. Living with other people can be hard, but if you both put in the effort your roommate can be a lifelong friend and fantastic source of support throughout the year.
In conclusion, the freshman year is a trying one. You are pushed to your limits, you watch as they shatter, and you have no choice but to keep going. You will grow and change and meet more people in this one time period than all of your former schooling combined. It is, after all, the first taste of freedom most of us get. No matter what, keep moving forward with your eyes on your degree, and before you know it you will be standing alongside your classmates at graduation, wondering where all the time has gone and preparing to leap into the next stage of your life. And always remember: You are a beast. Face your life head-on, tear it apart, and take its name.