I’m not here to generalize all freshman into a mass of general naivete, but who am I kidding? I pretty much am. It’s nothing personal, it’s all part of the learning experience. I would probably not be the perfect person I am today if I had not puked in a cab, in my purse, and then showered, fully clothed, in the Sulzberger shower at the tender age of 18. So this is a judgment-free zone. Here are 10 mistakes that you might make (at least, either my friends or I have made them) as a freshman. (Disclaimer: If you feel you’ve made none of these mistakes by May 2013, email me with proof, or I call shenanigans.)
1. The Drunken Bar/Frat House/In Front of Carman Hookup:
First of all, drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, you lawless hooligans, but I guess you already did it. You stumbled out of Sulz/Brooks/Reid/Carman and stumbled into, let’s say, ZBT. You probably look disgusting because it’s ZBT, and even their new air conditioning can’t keep the temperature below 90° in a room full of bodies grinding against each other in a sweaty, boozy mass. Gradually, that guy you’re grinding with starts to turn you to face him. You go with it because, hey, he’s kind of cute, and who’s really even gonna see? There’s like 200 people in here! You’ll spend the next morning at Nussbum with your roommate hating yourself for being that girl, or, if you’re a dude, that guy…except not because guys usually couldn’t care less. Take a page out of their book and don’t beat yourself up. Pretty much everyone saw. Pretty much nobody cared. At the most, we’ll all look, laugh, and forget because right behind you is another freshman (or sophomore/junior/senior/me) about to do the same thing!
2. The Puke and Run (Or Pass Out on a Random Couch): Uh oh, somebody pre-gamed the pre-game to the pre-game! By the time you’re at the actual party, things aren’t looking promising. Things are looking pretty blurry actually. What’s in jungle juice anyway? Suddenly you’re puking in a trash can on the fourth floor of Delta Sig while the guy/girl who was hitting on you ten minutes ago heads for the door to find someone in slightly better condition. You make it to the third floor before you throw up again. Rally! You’ve gotta get out the door before anyone notices! Second floor: vomit. Ok, it’s fine, keep going! First floor: well, at least you made it to the bathroom this time. Maybe next week you can knock off the 5th floor too.
3. The Roommate/Inner Fraternity Switch:
So you hooked up with that one guy, but now you’re into his roommate/friend/fraternity brother. You wait a week or two (that’s proper etiquette, right?), and then move in for the kill. You feel so guilty about leaving Guy #1 for Guy #2 that you don’t even notice the guys high five-ing each other when you leave in the morning. Guys and girls alike have been there. (Yep, ladies in sorority houses high five over their shared conquests too…sometimes we’ll even offer you peanut butter Puffins on your way out. I don’t believe in double standards.)
4. Came to College With a Boyfriend: Some people date their high school boyfriend their entire freshman year and are very happy. Congrats, you are the 1%. At the other end of the spectrum, you can expect frequent arguments, missed Skype dates, drunken rants, jealousy, and possibly resentment. It’s my personal opinion that you should both explore what’s out there while you have the opportunity. Maybe there’s nothing out there, and you’ll run back to each other, traumatized. But give yourself some freedom, or you’ll always wonder. If you do stay with your significant other, make sure you don’t stay in pining while your friends go out and have fun. You can’t get those nights back.
5. Woke Up With a Stranger: Whoops. You missed your Orchesis audition. Am I in Sig Ep?? Don’t linger. Don’t look back, and for the love of God, don’t forget anything. Assess your location, call a friend, get a bagel. The one night stand isn’t just a freshman mistake, but, as a freshman, it may be the first time you experience it. If it goes against your principles, forgive yourself and move on. Maybe it’ll even result in a date! (But probably not, so don’t be the freshman that tries to make it into more than it is.)
6. Overdressed For the Party: I will probably show up to Mel’s in workout clothes at least five times this semester. Don’t get me wrong, seniors still dress up, but we’re slightly more aware of which occasions call for tight little dresses, and which nights yoga pants will cut it. Inevitably, as a freshman, you will show up at Sigma Chi in club attire, and I will laugh at you. Don’t worry though, we all remember how it is. Once, I wore five inch heels in a BLIZZARD to DELTA SIG. So dazzle us with your stilettos four nights a week, until you realize it’s infinitely easier to wade through a puddle of Natty Light in flats.
7. Wait, the Midterm’s Tomorrow?:
When you get to Barnard, you have so many things you want to do in the city, so many people to meet, and so many International runs to make. It’s easy to forget that you’re really at college to learn something. If midterms are looming and you start to realize how wildly behind you are, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The professors (at Barnard especially) are almost all wonderfully understanding. I mean, they’re not going to LOL with you about the fact that you were so hungover that you threw up on your notebook and can no longer read the syllabus, but they understand if you’re a little overwhelmed. The more you reach out to them, the more they’re willing to help you. Cool kids go to office hours too! You’ll figure out how to balance it all quicker than you think. And if (like me) you don’t, you’ll figure out that Starbucks is open until 2am, and Butler 209 only closes for one hour from 7-8am, so really, you never have to leave.
8. Made Friends With a Psychopath: I found it tough to assess whether someone was likely to murder me in my sleep when all of my NSOP conversations were “what’s your major?” “LOLz undecided!” “Same!” You might latch on to someone a little too quickly just because she was the first person who didn’t try to show you pictures of her guinea pig farm or something. A few months later, that girl might be wasted, throwing a potted plant, screaming hysterically about the paper she got a C+ on/boy she met who forgot her name even though she swears they’re dating. The next morning she’ll calmly ask you what you’re talking about when you mention that she seemed slightly out of sorts last night. Bail, immediately. On a less extreme level, it’s ok to have friendships that don’t last. Some people will make their best friends for life during NSOP and they’ll be inseparable until graduation. For almost everyone else, your first year of college is trial and error. I had quite a few “Allie Who Likes Grey’s Anatomy”’s in my phone. For all I know, Allie didn’t even go to Columbia. Eventually, I figured my friends out, and so will you.
9. Freshman Ten: Must’ve been the John Jay Rice Crispie treats! Or the Hewitt kosher fudge brownies, those things are laced with crack. Or Bwog with all of their free food alerts. Or maybe it was all that late night Koronets/West Side/Cheesy Pizza/Ollie’s. The drunk eating doesn’t stop with age, but if you do happen to gain a pound or ten, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll figure out where Dodge is and what a “balanced diet without your parents cooking for you” means in a hurry.
10. Got CAVA-ed:
When bad things happen to good people…All ages need to try to avoid this one. It’s expensive, and, I imagine, tough to explain to your parents. If you are planning on getting CAVA drunk, make sure you pass out in your clothes because I’ve heard some stories…
You probably won’t make all of these mistakes (if you do, I’m impressed, but pull it together, Lindsay Lohan); you might not even make any (but then what did you even do all year?), however, almost no one looks back on freshman year without cringing a little. And that’s ok! If every year was perfect, we’d have no stories for our parents! HA! I’m totally kidding. You probably shouldn’t tell these stories to your parents (they grew up in a different era of courtships and covered wagons.) Alongside all the embarrassing and awful stuff, college is going to be full of awesome experiences, and friends who you won’t be able to imagine your life without. We should all enjoy it (relatively) shamelessly because regret ages you about ten years (as does alcohol, but at least that’s fun). At the end of the day, we’ll all look back and laugh at even our worst moments…or maybe not, but for those ones, remember the first rule of Fight Club: don’t talk about it.