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“You Can’t Sit With Us!”: How to Ace Your Freshman Timeline and Avoid the Awk

Being the new kid isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve never even been to a real school before. Fortunately, most of you have. But even if you haven’t, you won’t be going into this new stage of your life alone. As you are pitched into this jungle world of college, we at Her Campus Duke will be on your side, dear collegiettes. We’ll be your own personal Janis and Damian—here to be your guide to navigating lunchroom seating, deciding which activities to participate in, and of course telling how to avoid being hit by the C-1’s! (Hopefully without the drama, unless theater is your thing of course!)

We at Her Campus Duke have made a list to help you navigate the timeline of your first semester. It may not be a diagram of the lunchroom showing where the various cliques sit—which you won’t need at the Marketplace anyway—but this list is sure to help you “Avoid some of the Awk”, as I like to call it.

It’s much too early to be:

Studying for your MCAT. I know some parents might disagree with me on this, but I think your first semester of freshman year should be about exploring and discovering new things about yourself—your likes and dislikes. That’s not to say you can’t take Bio 101 or something that satisfies a Global Health requirement, but this is a great time to make sure you really do want to be a doctor, or lawyer, or business professional, or whatever career you have planned for yourself. Take your time this semester figuring that out. Trust me, you don’t want to discover four years down the line (after graduation!) that being a pediatrician just isn’t for you.

Filling up your dorm walls with pics from home. Sure, you should have some of your room decorated by the time classes start (goodness knows your time will be filled with homework and trying out different activities, leaving you with little time to stream lights). But you’ll want to leave a little room for pictures you take of the new you—the college you. Besides, constantly looking at pictures of your high school life might discourage you a little from branching out/discovering new facets to your personality/embracing the new friends you come into contact with. The new Aaron Samuels in your life will want to appreciate both the old and the new parts of you. Personally, I just tack up a bunch of boho-chic lights and am done with it. I want to spend more time out of my dorm than in it anyway.

Procrastinating. Yes, I understand the benefits of taking repeated 10 min breaks every hour when you’re studying. The mental reprieve is definitely good for productivity. But this early on in your first semester is not the time to be taking a mental siesta via YouTube. This is the time when everyone is adjusting to the new curriculum, and you don’t want to get behind in the first few lessons, when the professors may be giving you valuable information on gaps in your high school education. (And honestly, after a year full of Senioritis and a summer full of fun, who really remembers the complexities of Calc optimization without a little review?) So pay attention now—there will be plenty of time to procrastinate later (like at finals time, when a little Facebooking will save you from going bezerk.)

It’s just about the perfect time to:

Introduce yourself to that cute guy in your intro to geology course. Even if that guy is the smokin’ prof with the (three!) chili peppers next to his name on ratemyprofessor.com. (Hey, if you’re going to be staring at someone every Tuesday and Thursday for 90 min, he might as well be attractive.) But seriously, now is the perfect time to introduce yourself to anyone. You’ll be seen as friendly and outgoing, and there will never really be as open of a time in your college career than the first few weeks of Freshman year. And on the plus side, Dukies exude intelligence, so no need to pretend you’re flunking math to get his attention.

Do some bonding on East/Attend orientation activities (especially the Activities Fair!) Some people may think going to the activities is lame (and okay maybe going to all the talks and info sessions may get a bit tedious by the end of O-week) But! Being at those activities is a great chance to meet your fellow class of 2016-ers. Also, you’ll build class unity, which I think is one of the best things about Duke. What other campus gives Freshmen their own private oasis (have you checked out Bell Tower’s free massage chairs yet?) Living on East is like living on your own private island—you have the Marketplace, a gym, a library, a running trail, and of course tons of quad space to play Ultimate, toss the ole pigskin around, and/or just lounge around with your hallmates. Take advantage of the fact no upperclassman will be around to rain on your parade and use their seniority to kick you off the quad so they can use the space as they like.

Learn the timing of the C-1’s, C-2’s, C-3’s. You definitely don’t want to be late to class (it’s a terrible first impression and sometimes takes points off your grade!) It’s not a bad idea to leave to class extra early the first week, because you never know when the bus stop is going to be extra congested with little firsties trying to get to Science Drive. Also, in your eagerness to be the first on the bus, you might think it’s a good idea to stand just off the curb. DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE THE NEXT REGINA GEORGE. Those buses will honk for you to move out of the way, but they will not slow down to avoid hitting you. The drivers assume (with good reason) that you are intelligent enough to move. Nothing like a neck brace to compliment your perfect fall outfit.

Sit with anyone you want to at the Marketplace. You have a golden opportunity of about 3-4 weeks to sit next to anyone you find with a casual hello and a smile. No one will be yelling “You can’t sit with us!” Unless you’re wearing a UNC shirt. Then you will definitely be yelled at.

It’s too late to:

Invent the toaster strudels. Or the invisibility cloak. Gretchen’s dad and Duke already took care of those. But the market is still wide open for delicious just-like-mama-makes baked goods that will keep you from gaining the Freshman 15. Good luck on that one.

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I've been a Her Campus contributor for three semesters now, and I love being able to express myself in this way. I am a junior at Duke University. I do yoga, am writing a fantasy novel, love video games, feel passionate about getting collegiettes to find body/mind/self confidence, and am trying (*) to eat gluten-free like my amazing boyfriend. *one of the best things you can do for your health
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