By Jack Siebel
During your college career, some things are bound to happen by fate, others by will and some still by three of your friends saying “come on bro!” until you surrender. No matter how it happens, embrace these moments because everyone goes through them and you’ll laugh about it one day.
Pull an all- nighter
I cannot stress to you how absolutely fantastic and horrible this is at the same time. You will laugh, you will cry, and you’ll most like dance, eat and sing. The all-nighter is a praised and holy tradition in collegiate society. As your eyes begin to droop and your hand slouches to the desk like a leaking beanbag, you will be enlightened by your brilliant plan. You’ll shout to the heavens, “I’m going to stay up all night!!” Remember that moment when you’re in English the following morning, groggy, smelly, late, confused and most of all thankful for the wondrous night before. To give you an example, the last time I pulled an all- nighter, three of my dearest friends and I sang the national anthem from the dorm roof at 4 am, then proceeded to reinvent “the robot.”
Go outside your comfort zone
This may seem simple but I promise you it’s one of the most difficult things you’ll do this year. To put it simply, do the opposite of whatever you want. If you’re an expert partier, skip the rave one night to see a play; if you’re a total bookworm, let loose and check out the tiki party you’ve been hearing so much about. It’s not about doing something you think you won’t like, it’s about trying something new. Hell, if you’re feeling especially risky, you can even try to dance! *Gasp!*
Do Something Extracurricular
My personal favorite is flag football, but seriously, if it sounds like even a little bit of fun, there’s a good chance it is! Not only are extracurricular activities fun, but you can almost always do them with friends. Also, have you SEEN the clubs you can join?! The University of Washington has a club dedicated to the art of making and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The University of Missouri has a slack lining team and Northwestern has a happiness club! There’s a billion ways you can get involved even if that means making your own! My personal mission is the “Coloring Books of America Club.”
Lock yourself out
I don’t care who you are or how organized you seem to be, you WILL lock yourself out at least once during your freshman year. You’ll be stranded in your towel as water drips from you like shame. Your knocks on the RA’s door will be the beating of your own heart as she giggles at your Buzz Lightyear towel or your supple supplies of girly shampoos as you try to explain that “you have a hair condition.” It’s a quick experience and will teach you a lesson, but it’s bound to happen at the most dreadful of times.
You probably don’t want this experience, but it’s one you’ll most definitely have by the end of your first year. You’ll begin your homework with intentions of good grades and short nights. Then Facebook, Google, iTunes and the rest of the Internet will coerce you into a deep and sorrowful pit of lolcatz and mashups. Shortly after, your friend will pull you from the infernal trap of technology… and bring you to a “totally sick party man!” You’ll return to your room to be encountered by a barely-started paper due in less hours than there are pages you have to write. Good luck!
Explore your campus
Each campus and the surrounding city has places you’ve never seen and secrets you’d never believe. By exploring your own college you can find all of the hidden gems nobody else knows exist. Personally I’ve found a sculpture representing “flipping someone off,” and a thrift shop that never opens. Who knows where you might find yourself?
Try out for a sport
No school is great at everything but every school is good at something, whether it’s football or quidditch. Watching great people do what they do best is something special and rare; even if that means frisbee golf or dodgeball. So find out what your college is good at and go see a game, make a sign, cheer them on, and enjoy.
Explore the Local Culture
Eat that really weird food that all the locals seem to like (I hear alligator tastes like chicken). Go find all the hot clubs and bars in your area (although make sure you know who the main customers are.) Do all the things you can’t do anywhere else because you’ll regret it when you’re gone. Love the city you’re in and it’ll love you back, revealing all of the hidden concerts, boutiques, underground fight clubs and secret graffiti parties… or maybe stick to the alligator.
Make a Tradition of Your Own
Different signatures represent each group of friends and yours can be as exciting as going skinny dipping every weekend or as normal as getting dinner at the same time every night. My friends and I walk to the McDonalds across the street and create the most magical of sandwiches, the McMazing sandwich. It consists of a chicken sandwich placed between the two patties of a McDouble and will most likely be the downfall of all our diets. Go out and create your own tradition, be it food, sports or tourism. You’ll cherish that tradition for the rest of the year, if not your entire college life.
Fight the 15
The freshman 15 is a dreaded and cursed legend that sadly holds truth in the real world. Cafeteria style buffets and endless carbs will lead to an endless cycle of larger plates and larger stomachs. Thankfully, almost any college you go to will have a track, a weight room and a rec center. USE THESE WELL. Intramural sports and running buddies can be your strongest allies in the war on weight. Go for a run, swim at the pool, hit up the flag football games and enjoy your exercise, or the monster known as the freshman fifteen will soon be knocking on your door.
Meet the world
Befriend students from around the world. I’ve met South Africans who taught me original songs and dances from their home, Australians that know the didgeridoo, and a Panamanian that literally says “tee-hee” when she laughs. So go out and be friendly to these people because they can teach you things you’d never learn without them.
One thing I’ve seen everyone go through in one form or another is homesickness. Be it momentary or constant, it’s a plague that can catch anyone off guard. Anything can trigger it and it can hit soft as a pillow or hard as a brick. For me, all of the thanksgiving feast pictures sent me into a five minute depression of homesickness and good memories. It was short but it happened and chances are, it’ll hit you too.
Tailgating is an honoured society of chefs, partiers, music lovers, and sports fanatics. Depending on the location and sport, the food and fans can change but the atmosphere is always the same. You’ll experience a fantastic collection of classic musical hits, delicious foods that are only possible when calories are ignored, beers you’ve never heard of and most of all sports. Tailgating is a chili-filled, beer doused, melody laden party centered on some of the greatest games in the world. Why wouldn’t you go?
Get the last grade you expected
Grading in college has to be one of the most cockamamie systems I’ve ever encountered. Not a single person I know hasn’t gone through hours of studying and come out with a “D” at least once. The same goes for pop quizzes or unstudied tests that inexplicably get the highest marks in class. So go ahead and study for every test, it’s the right thing to do, but at least once, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised with how it all comes out.
Embarrassing yourself has bad connotations but I promise you, it is going to be the best thing you do all year. Dance in the courtyard during a fire drill, sing in the showers so the whole dorm can hear, get on the jumbotron at a sporting event. Do something fun and don’t care who’s watching. In the real world, you might get a few funny stares but here, you’ll just get a few more friend requests. Enjoy it while it lasts.