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Before You Arrive, Calm the Butterflies

Dear incoming Freshmen,

I am now technically a junior at this wonderful, chaotic, real life Hogwarts for Muggles (shhh, the public doesn’t know about the magic) but I remember how it felt when I said goodbye to my parents at the start of FYP.

I was anxious, excited, depressed, euphoric, and I kinda’ wished I could puke up get rid of the butterflies that seemed to be breeding in my stomach.

While I know the nervousness won’t truly dissipate, I hope I can help calm the butterflies that may be fluttering in your stomach by telling you some of the things you have to look forward to!


1.The Sewanee Welcome

Orientation is absolutely crazy, yes even for those of you in the FYP program, but it’s okay. Why? Because it’s like that for literally everyone. Don’t be anxious about being lost or looking “like a freshmen” because all the other freshmen are doing the exact same (some are just better at faking it than others).

Don’t worry, our Sewanee Welcome comes included with all the help you could get (if lost ask someone in a black gown), pretty amazing food (thank you McClurg), and some seriously fun activities to do with the family (optional of course, if you’re like me and too lazy to do the things).


2.Our General Friendliness

Sewanee students are pretty darn friendly (not even exaggerating).

If you are lost then just ask a student where to go. We’ve all been in your shoes and we want you to feel excited, not anxious because you have yet to learn the difference between Woods and Spencer.

Don’t want to eat alone? Ask to sit with someone! Better yet, if we know you are freshmen then don’t be surprised if an upperclassman wants to sit and chat with you. We like getting to know each other (although if you want to be left alone feel free to tell us, we won’t get mad).

Want some advice about classes or professors? DEFINITELY talk to us, we are all pretty much waiting for an opportunity to dish on what classes you should take and which professors to stay away from (experiences may vary).

Warning: The Squirrels are really friendly as well. And by friendly I mean they want your food. Just put the pizza down, back away slowly, and don’t let them smell your fear.


3.Our Crazy Traditions

We have A LOT of them.

Be sure when you come to Sewanee and drive through the Sewanee gates to tap your car roof and release your Sewanee Angel, and tap it again when you leave in order to get them back.


Also, ask someone at a frat or really anyone what happened to the oh-so-mysterious frat which cannot be named.

Welcome to the tradition of looking like Harry Potter characters, er, I mean gowning.

Oh, and don’t forget that Fratmas and Sratmas only ever happen twice a year!


4.Our Wonderful (No Pressure, No Hazing) Greek Life

Speaking of Sratmas and Fratmas, be sure to check out our Greek Life (if you want).

At Sewanee the majority of us are Greek (I’m reppin’ Alpha Tau Zeta myself), but that’s only because we clicked with a group just as crazy and spectacular as we are and decided, hey, might as well join them!

At Sewanee there is NO pressure to join Greek Life. None. All the parties are open (well, technically formals aren’t, buuuut you can usually crash them after like 9:30 PM), Greek members have to maintain a certain GPA so school comes before parties, we don’t typically exclude people from just hanging out at our houses, and there aren’t any “grudges” between us so you shouldn’t ever feel torn between friends. Greek Life also does some amazing things for charities (Ladies of Lambda. Go to it)!


5.Our Magical Professors

Hahaha, “Magical,” get it? Cause we look like Hogwarts? *Crickets* Ahem, moving on.

Sewanee professors are the real deal. All of our professors have open door policies, and since Sewanee is super super tiny pretty small the professors get to really know us and how we work in an educational setting.

And just wait till you get your advisor for your major (you’ll usually pick them sophomore year)! Talk about someone who has got your back! Advisors are absolutely wonderful, especially if you build a relationship with them other than “Hey, will you sign this approval form?” I have tea with my advisor on a weekly basis and without her I would be completely overwhelmed with my major. Seriously. They are the best (make them cookies).


6.The View

Sewanee is beautiful. Period. Point blank. End of story. But it also has some hidden treasures and views that you can only find when you go looking. I’m not going to tell you where they are. I have to leave some mysteries after all!


7.The Sewanee Lingo

SPO? SOP? The Res? SUT? BACCHUS? APO? CRU?  And way, way, way, way more. Trust me, you’ll be confused as hell at first but once you start speaking like us you know you’re officially a Sewanee Student. And this article (Starting of the Term with Sewanee Terms)might offer a little help.


8.The Opportunities for More

One of my favorite (other than all the Harry Potter puns) parts of Sewanee is the opportunities I have had to both volunteer and get to know my fellow students and witness the amazing events that Sewanee is home to.

LGBTQ, Greek Life, Her Campus, GSA, Arcadia, Res Life, The Purple, Pep Band, PMo, Swing Dancing, Yoga, Theatre, Chorus, Bonner, InterFaith, SWAG, FOG, BACCHUS, Rugby, APO, Food With Friends, Crew, CRU, Crossfit, SOP excursions, SUT nights, Tiger Girls, Japan Addicts, Asian Sensation, AAA, ACASA, Beyond Sewanee, Spectrum, MASV, OCCU, the Bairnwick Women’s Center, STUDY ABROAD, and these are just some organizations off the top of my head. There is something for everyone, and if you want something but don’t find it then grab some friends and start it.

Sewanee is literally the perfect place to explore your interests and engage in some really fun, and lively, activities that don’t center around partying or studying. Think of them as really good ways to meet friends, take a study break, and help the community all in one. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

Well guys and gals, that’s it. This has been a letter written for you, super informally I do admit, by a student that, hopefully, will calm you a bit and get you even more pumped up for school to begin (Which is in like 4 days for FYP students. Holy guacamole. I don’t start school in Edinburgh until September 8th. Yeah).

I hope I haven’t completely and utterly, epically failed at this. I hope you come to Sewanee excited for the new chapter in your life. I hope you come prepared for the occasional disappointments, heartaches, bouts of stress, but don’t let those completely define your time at our wonderful school. Make friends, take chances, secure your future, and party like it’s your birthday (responsibly and remembering that school comes first)! Remember, you chose this awesome school and whatever comes your way, you got this.

YSR ya’ll,

Taylor Thornton

Born and raised in Dandridge, TN, Taylor is a simple pre-law anthropology major and is a fan of anything cute/fluffy, reading, tea/coffee, and cats. Her patronus is Harley Quinn. 
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