Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there always comes a point during the summer when you realize that—despite being nervous about the impending headfirst leap back into the intensity of school work—you’re really just excited to recommence packing your brain with knowledge, rather than mindlessly clicking “next episode” on Netflix for the eighth time in a row. Now that we’ve all been back at Vassar for a little while and have gotten relatively into the swing of things, in addition to no longer being able to feel my brain congealing into a melted blob, I’ve also come to appreciate the benefits of no longer being a freshman. I don’t want to sound as if I’ve already developed a bit of a superiority complex when I’m only about 365 days more experienced in the throes of the collegiate lifestyle, but at the same time I’d like to think that I’ve gained some useful experiential knowledge over the past year.
To any freshman who may be reading this, here’s a little bit of counsel from yours truly, now that I’m an oh-so-knowledgeable, big bad sophomore. Please note the heavy sarcasm—I really don’t claim to know anything. Also, this may or may not be a little more specific to personal experience rather than a general list. So take whatever I say with a grain of salt. Maybe two grains, or maybe even some triple-grain action if you’re feeling particularly salty.
1.) Be wary of only socializing with the same group of people whom you initially met during orientation. It’s not unlikely that some of them might become your best friends, but (not to rain on your parade) it might be difficult if you ever eventually decide that you want to expand your social horizons. You may come to realize that sitting at huge tables in the Deece and taking up as much space as a sports team is not the most ideal for conversation, and that it’s actually much nicer when an entire, smaller group is able to interact with one another. Definitely try to become friends with the people in your classes, especially if they’re going to share a major with you. It’s a very nice thing to have people with whom to stress out over homework. Also, video-chatting with your best friends from home is an amazing resource, but it can also make you very sad.
2.) Accidental love-triangle situations (well, technically it was less of a triangle and more of a series of line segments—an unfinished square, if you will—of lust, but that has less of a ring to it) involving your roommate and her point of interest that lives right down the hall? I rate them at a resounding zero out of ten; would not recommend them, avoid at all costs. Do use the co-ed bathroom scenario to your advantage and talk to the adorable boy that you sometimes see as he’s filling up his water filter. (Side note—don’t worry too much about the bathrooms, because as you have probably already come to realize, they don’t really make any more awkward of a situation than do any other public bathrooms, except that in my experiences boys tend to be less secretive about taking a dump.)
3.) This is less of an issue when you have a roommate with whom to potentially socialize, but you should still watch out to not spend too much time in your dorm room. Alone time is wonderful, but when you run out of things to do on the Internet, you may come to realize that you appreciate some company. So, talk to people. It can be intimidating, but it’s almost always worth it. Even if they’re not people with whom you would ever think you would want to be friends, chances are they have at least something interesting to say.
4.) That being said, when you do crave some isolation, the library is a fantastic option. It’s quiet, there are usually some comfortable chairs available, and you can people-watch.
5.) You will have more free time than you think. It’s easy to waste it all by being sucked into a portal of procrastination, so it’s a good idea to fill it up with structure. Yes, I’m saying the dreaded phrase favored by high school guidance counselors around the world: get involved in extracurricular activities. I’m not saying that you should sign up for 16 different clubs, volunteer at every homeless shelter within a twenty-mile radius, and play water polo every evening in between your cello and ballet lessons…but at least find something productive with which to occupy yourself.
6.) As you may have noticed, investing in a window fan is a must for the first and last few weeks of the school year. An area-rug and a mini-fridge are also nice touches for your room. On another buying-related note, figure out a plan for spending your meal swipes and dining bucks so that you don’t end up running out or having a ton left over at the end of the semester. Steal food from the dining hall whenever possible. Especially bananas. Bananas are very important.
7.) Be cautious of keeping your toiletries in the actual bathroom cubbies, just in case on April Fool’s Day somebody comes up with the brilliant idea of stealing all of the toothbrushes and planting them in a giant toothbrush graveyard. Also, I advise wearing flip-flops in the showers. And please don’t be that person who leaves their hair clogging up the drain, ya nasty.
8.) Also, try to get a reasonable amount of sleep. Key word here being try.