Advice for the freshmen, nostalgia for everyone else

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Freshmen are full of questions. Friday nights we hear a lot of “Where is Vandy?” On Saturday, the girls want to know when the fraternity party bus is picking up. Sunday Griesedieck brunch consists of recognizing people because they are wearing the same clothes as they had on  the night before—but you still have to ask your roommate what that guy’s name was again.

Do not fear, freshmen, you will quickly learn the answers to all of your questions. I wish there was a strict guide to success that directed all of us through freshman year that we could pass on to you, but that is, unfortunately, not the case.

Learning the hard way is always more interesting and makes for the best stories anyway. Despite my advice being far from professional, I am putting it out there; take it with a grain of salt.

Most upper classmen remember that the year started with signing up for at least nine clubs and by the end of the year being involved in two (neither of which were one of the original nine). And of course there is the looming question of whether or not to rush a fraternity or sorority.

My first piece of advice is to go for it! All of it. There’s no need to hesitate to join any group. Really, we all just want to belong somewhere—to make friends, create memories, and find ourselves.

With over 150 student organizations on campus, there is bound to be at least one to suit everybody. For the Chaco-wearing tree climbers there is the Wilderness Adventure Club. For the men out there who can melt a crowd with their voices, the Bare Naked Statues a cappella group is calling. If fundraising and building homes for those without is your thing, Habitat for Humanity needs you.

Freshman year also revolves around figuring out what to do with this newfound freedom. No more curfew, no more sister stealing from your closet, no more nagging mom telling you to do your homework. The overwhelming sensation of being thrust into the unfamiliar world of college can put a dangerous amount of stress on some and it can mold you into being the person you always wanted to be.

Figure out how to deal with the stress in a healthy way, though. This suggestion is crucial for your sanity. Whether it’s signing up for yoga classes at the rec center, volunteering off campus or joining an intermural team, figure it out and fast. That first exam might be a wakeup call in the worst way.

Third, letting go of high school is key. What happened there cannot be changed, but what happens here doesn’t have to be the same. Reputations are formed rather quickly, so plan accordingly on what you want your first impression to be. Unlike high school, though, they can also be altered, or at least your group of friends can.

With more than 8,100 undergraduates running around campus, the odds are favorable that you will stumble upon somebody willing to be your best friend, and more than likely that you will have more to do than you could ever fit in.

One piece of advice I wish somebody had given me freshman year is get to know the international students. Give them a chance. Whether they’re Asian, Spanish, German or Brazilian, they have something interesting to teach you so don’t be afraid.

Not only should you mingle with the international students here, but also take advantage of the study abroad programs SLU has to offer. There is a country to suit the majority of travelers’ desires and I have yet to meet a student who regrets studying abroad. Experience life in another country for at least a semester because this may be your only chance.

Keep in touch with all these intriguing people you meet, too; it’s easy to lose touch with new friends without trying to.

However, my parting advice is that I strongly urge everybody to set your Facebook to private. Freshmen encounter upwards of a million new people every week and you can bet they are going to try to stalk you just as much as you are going to try to stalk them. Having a private page forces them to actually friend request you to gather any creepy information, so at least you can build up your social network.

In addition, clean out those embarrassing photos because you really don’t look as cool as you think in that picture with the beer bong. Employers agree. Remember, everything that goes viral stays viral,  so beware of that camera happy girl trying to document every moment of her first party. Oh, and don’t be that girl.