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Sarah’s Declassified Freshmen Survival Guide

Ahh yes, the smell of small talk, free food, and social anxiety—it’s fall semester, and there’s a fresh crop of anxious freshmen walking among us. Between the bewildered looks, the constant double-checking of bus names, and the abundance of Chapel selfies, it’s not hard to separate the newbie Blue Devils from their more veteran counterparts. However, if you’re a freshman that’s trying to blend, here’s exactly how to do it.


1. Figure out where you’re going in advance

It’s easy to get lost in our beautiful gothic wonderland, so take some extra precautions. Got an 8:30 lecture in Social Psych? Explore the day before, so you don’t end up showing up 15 minutes into class breathless and without an aisle seat.

2. Take advantage of September

At the beginning of the year, a lot of people are still trying to figure out what’s happening, so take advantage of that! Memorize the dorms of East while the banners are up. Use the map they give you in your orientation folder. Ask friendly upperclassmen before midterm sadness makes everyone seem less welcoming.

3. Learn the lingo

The fastest way to stand out as a noob is to use the wrong jargon, so listen to what your FACs and RAs call “Café Edens” and “The Richard H. Brodhead Center for Campus Life,” (for the record, it’s Pitchforks and West Union). Using the right nicknames is the easiest way to blend in with upperclassmen like a pro.

4. Don’t run for the bus

I assure you that it is not worth it. What’s worse, missing the bus or sprinting as fast as you can, effectively sweating through your shirt in the NC humidity, then missing the bus anyway? Just don’t do it.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask

You might think this one is a dud, since what screams “I’m a freshman!” more than asking for directions, but I’ll tell you what does: taking the wrong bus and ending up in Mill Village, and having to figure out which bus to take from there when you were just trying to get back to the safety of your dorm. It never hurts to ask, and you’ll find that students, bus drivers, and DUPD are always more than willing to help!

Treasure the bliss that is freshmen year. It’ll be gone before you know it!


A Jaded Senior 

I am a senior at Duke University studying psychology and history, and I have been writing with Her Campus since I was a freshman. Having this incredible community of empowering women to build me up when I need support and to give me an outlet when I need to vent has been one of the greatest aspects of my Duke career! I am so sad to leave them soon, but I am excited to pursue my J.D. at Georgetown in the fall!
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