Oberlin Blogs

On Being a New Freshman

August 19, 2016

Celina Kobetitsch ’18

I entered my dorm room in Dascomb for the very first time last year with circles under my eyes after a night's worth of nervous butterflies and restless turning over and over and over and probably under and over and -- okay, you get the point. And then I was there. I was at college.

The first freshman move I made was accidentally locking my key in my room. Without having my roommate's phone number (another freshman move! 2-0), this small mistake elongated into a several-hour conundrum in which I was unable to enter my room just to get a jacket to brace against the 50-degree August weather (what???).

The next freshman move I made was the following morning when I was trying to get some makeup off that I had been too lazy to remove the preceding evening. Why was the eye makeup remover making my eyes sting? I looked at the bottle. "Nail polish remover." Oh.

Now, okay, that could have been anyone's mistake -- the bottles were so similar, I swear! But it's easy to consider it a "freshman move" because these are exactly the things that freshmen are stereotypically known to do: make mistakes, be loud, have poor judgment, know nothing.

But for a second, let's erase all that negativity. When I just looked around me I found an abundance of resources, upperclassmen who were thrilled to answer each and every dumb question I had and even people who were hired to help people like me. And what I realized was that it's okay to be a freshman.

It's okay to ask questions, it's okay to put your key and your ID on a lanyard and wear it around your neck everywhere you go, it's okay to spend 20 minutes pacing through the food options at Stevie before figuring out what you want, it's okay to ask for directions from strangers walking through Tappan Square, it's okay to dance around barefoot with your newest friend, it's okay to instagram pictures of at least half the campus within the first week.

Given all that, a few more tips:

  1. Try to meet new people, go to social events those first couple of weeks, but don't feel obligated to do everything. You have four years here to meet people. Give yourself a break sometimes, and don't feel guilty about reserving some alone time in your day.
  2. It's okay if your roommate is your only friend the first few days. But also, it's okay if your roommate isn't your best friend. I know a lot of freshmen who come into college with two possible expectations for their roommate: their roommate is either going to be their best friend whom they stay up to until 3am watching Netflix with or their roommate is going to be a nutcase. These outcomes do exist, but there's also a good chance that you and your roommate might just be two people who get along and live in the same room.
  3. Stock up on granola bars. Even though you're not waking up at 6 AM anymore to go to school, somehow even 9/10/11? AM still becomes a struggle, and it can be hard to have time to get breakfast every day.
  4. Organize. Plan. Organize everything. Organize your room, because you'll feel so much better when you're in it, organize your documents, organize your day: schedule your classes, schedule your studying, schedule your free time, even schedule some scheduling time to schedule the next day. I don't know about you, but it felt nice for me to take control of a lot of the new independence I had those first few weeks.
  5. At some point, you will probably feel lonely. You're going to be in a new place full of people you have never met before. You may not find close friends right off the bat, so keep yourself busy, stay excited, and remain hopeful. Remember that whatever loneliness you feel is temporary, so enjoy the bliss of meeting new people and exploring this new place.

No one is judging you for asking questions or not knowing your way. We've all been there! So reach out for help when you need it and enjoy this exciting start to a new chapter of your life.

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