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Laughing It Off: Surviving the First Few weeks of College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

We roll our hampers, brightly painted in oh-so-spirited college colors and overflowing with our most practical belongings, towards our new living space. 

Perhaps we are lucky with a mostly sunny sky and a light breeze. Perhaps we are slightly less lucky when the pillows, which we’ve placed on top of our hampers to keep fragile items beneath in place, turn damp from unforeseeable rain. 

Regardless, the majority of our focus is on hoping that everything goes smoothly – that even if we are currently more nervous than excited to make friends, learn, chase dream-careers, party, and become independent, we can report back to friends and family that we are indeed enjoying the college experience so far. 

It is difficult not to cling to this idea of a seamless college transition. How much more satisfying would it be to find a best friend on the very first night, to instantly understand the campus layout as if it were your hometown, to know the correct methods of the panini, omelet, and soup stations?

In the two weeks after my rocky first night, I have come to understand that instant success would not be much more pleasing. The real satisfaction comes from the experience of figuring it out: taking your time to make genuine connections, wandering around until you can orient yourself, standing in line as many times as it takes to become a panini-pro. Effortfully crafting your own success is what will make you feel capable and content. 

It is, of course, unrealistic to anticipate a perfect beginning. Bumps in the road are inevitable – especially for newbies like myself. I promise that your small embarrassing mess-ups are a shared experience. These 6 embarrassing stories from people’s first weeks on campus are proof of that.

  1. Being the “screen-ager” my parents always mock me for being, I glued my eyes to my phone as soon as I finished my swim workout. I finally took a pause from avidly texting only to realize I was, in fact, in the men’s locker room. 
  2. Hoping to learn more about Jewish life on campus, I attended my first Chabad event with a friend. Following his lead alleviating my social anxiety, I stretched out my arm hoping to shake the Rabbi’s hand. It took me a full minute to recall the details of my own religion (observant Orthodox Jews do not shake hands with members of the opposite gender) and retract my gesture from the Rabbi to whom I subjected this awkwardness. 
  3. On the first day of classes, my friend Utsavi plugged her lecture hall into Google Maps, only to enter a building with a surprisingly official front desk. “Is this the Mugar Life and Science Building?” she asked. “This is the YMCA”, the receptionist replied. 
  4. Lauren accidentally set off her dorm’s emergency exit alarm at 3 am. Luckily, the alarm continued for 4 straight hours and everyone knew it was her doing. 
  5. An absolute classic: Alex fell up the stairs on his way to his first ever college class, turning heads and sparking friendly laughter. His friend had a similar experience venturing up the METRO stairs. 
  6. On Lily’s first night, she strolled to the bathroom accidentally leaving her room key and phone behind in her single dorm. With no way to contact the RA on duty, she was left with no choice but to disturb the neighbors at 2 am. While they at first thought her to be quite odd, they eventually became some of her best friends.

It has only been two weeks, and I am certainly not a pro; but, I encourage you to be patient with the process and yourself, to welcome and work through the serious challenges, and to laugh off whatever you can. It is not always easy, but it has certainly helped me be able to report back to friends and family that I am indeed enjoying the college experience so far. 

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Abby Krivopal

Northeastern '26

Abby Krivopal is a first-year at Northeastern University studying journalism. In addition to writing, Abby enjoys crafting, hanging out with friends (especially her dog), and spending time outdoors. She also finds great happiness in munching on burritos and Banh Mi.