The Landis Fountain: The First Weeks and All Its Glory

Four in the morning on Friday, Aug. 23 is where my journey all began.

Well, that's not entirely true. It began at the start of high school, preparing for college by getting good grades and getting all the free college credit that I could before actually stepping foot onto the Florida State campus. Then there were the ACTs, the application process, and getting accepted - but you're probably past that point and there's no going back now so we'll start on Aug. 23.

My check-in time for my dorm was bright and early at 9 AM, which isn't too bad - unless you live four hours away - then it becomes a hassle and a long day. I slept most of the way in the car anyway, when my nerves had calmed enough to allow me.

The new Taylor Swift album Lover had dropped at midnight the day before, so it was on repeat the entire four-hour drive. Once a Swiftie, always a Swiftie. I fell in love with the album and with the feeling that I was about to be free: an adult on my own in my own space away from my parents for the first time. The feeling was almost intoxicating. The album was almost the perfect metaphor for my next few days: something familiar but with new content, or rather, school but with a different atmosphere.

It was almost funny how my roommate and I played a game of tag when trying to meet each other. Either she'd be out, and I'd be in the room, or I'd be at Walmart and she's be in our room. It happened all day until about four in the afternoon, after my parents and I had gotten lunch and had run to Walmart one last time. (Note: Walmart will be a lifesaver on move-in day. You will forget something. Make a list and check it four times).

My parents got all of my stuff up to my room, then said their goodbyes, leaving me alone to unpack in solitude. It was nice, being able to do so in the comfort of my mind. My roommate still hadn't found her way back to the room yet, so I had time to myself to make my room my own - hanging up posters, pictures, and my extensive collection of Minnie Ears with command strips and hooks (I promise that you will need them). It was a different place, a different bed, but it was still all of my stuff, so it felt like home at the end of the day. I put on Lover on my speaker and everything seemed to settle into place. Herman, my Betta fish swam happily the entire afternoon.

I finally met my roommate and we didn't ‘click' as you see in most movies. We were both quiet and respectful towards each other as we got to learn how the other lived and what our schedules were. I am grateful for my roommate. We both keep the room clean and don't disturb the other beyond reason. Now we have a stronger bond, but we live our own separate lives.

Welcome Week will hit you like a two by four post. If it's not your RA, then it's some club or organization that is looking for you to get involved. It's a lot of awkward smiles and conversations and there's no avoiding that. They'll be over-excited, and you'll be sleep-deprived and in the middle of sensory overload, so just try to smile and be polite. You don't have to join anything if you don't want to. Trying to figure out the college atmosphere and join a club and learn the campus with a million other things can be a lot to handle sometimes, so don't be disheartened if you can't find something to fit into.

Meet people on your floor. You should have a floor meeting in the first week or so to go over rules: basically, don't do anything illegal, or don't get caught at least. I met a few people at my floor meeting and they've become really good friends of mine - we got into a lot of (harmless) shenanigans together. We met through one of our RA's games: what do you have in common with the other person? Juliette and I were both Gryffindors, and Grace and I had the same middle name. A few late nights and exchanging numbers and we settled into a friend group together with two others, Terra and Andrew.

It all began with Tinder (which is a really big thing in college?). The lot of us went to Landis Green to get profile pictures for one of us, Grace. We had a lot of fun with the impromptu photo shoot that became a bit more reckless. At orientation, they tell you that every fountain on campus is a registered swimming pool, except Westcott. It was hot because it was Florida in August, so Juliette looked over at the fountain, then back to me with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Fast-forward about five minutes and the two of us were drenched and in the fountain doing another photo shoot, laughing the sunset away.

That's the thing about college: getting over what people think of you and being your own person. For me, that journey started in high school and I found someone that I was proud of being, and I'm not afraid to let her loose on campus. Particularly her perfect lipstick and killer clothing. Just because everyone says you can live in sweatpants and t-shirts doesn't mean you have to. Wear what you want to be confident, even if you don't feel that way. Trust me, the feeling will follow. It's not ‘reinventing' yourself as everyone says, but more of refinement with your new freedom. Iron out any kinks and tie up loose ends about yourself that you couldn't before.

I guess I should talk about classes too. I chose ones based on what I liked and what I needed for graduation. You don't have to choose between one or the other, there are plenty of classes to get a happy medium that high school couldn't offer. Being an English and Classics major, I chose Latin, Language Birth and Death, Psychology, and the mandatory ENC 2135. The importance of these classes is that they all have transfer material. What I learned in Latin I can apply to my Language class, and I can use that background knowledge to fuel my papers in ENC. It's jarring when your classes don't have some sort of flow and remember that you're here paying for these classes, so pick ones that you want to do.

Oh, and another thing: there will be a lot of walking and many hills, so try to find the easiest and fastest route to places. I brought my bike up with me, but it's hard to navigate through foot traffic all of the time so I switched out my routes. FSU is huge and there are a lot of cool places to see (I recommend Dodd hall), and a lot of places you need to know the location of (the post office, for one). If you're not sure where something is, ask if anyone else needs to go there too, and find it together or follow their lead.

Being a female on a college campus living somewhat alone is slightly nerve-wracking, but it's not impossible. FSU has a lot of security and safety precautions that ease a lot of my fears. I never had a problem with walking somewhere alone, mostly because I know how to fight due to growing up in a small redneck town, but it's not the end of the world if you do. Pick up some mace or pepper spray and remember that it will dissipate into an area so if you need to use it, run the other way, or it will affect you too. It'll take a while but finding your way around campus isn't impossible.

Moving out and going to college is different for each person. For me, it was first choosing my life path, then the action of living it - and I did just that in my first few weeks and I will continue to do so. From doing things that I've always wanted to, (i.e. buy a MacBook) to learning that dinner at nine o'clock at night is normal, college has been a ride that I look forward to finishing and experiencing the journey along the way.

All images courtesy Kiersten Lupinek

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