The new school year is back in full swing, and you’re probably feeling a range of emotions: excitement to be on campus again, sheer joy at the sight of your friends (and also at the sight of chocolate chip sundaes at Berk Late Night), and maybe some anxiety about your new classes. Whether you’re happy to be back at UMass or less than thrilled, here are some ways to make this semester one of your best yet—academically, socially, and personally.
1. Be excited to try new things.
It’s easy to get stuck in the same routine you had the year before, but that is definitely one thing you need to avoid. Having a solid group of friends is great (so don’t leave them behind!), but don’t be afraid to branch out and meet new people. Joining clubs (like Her Campus, hint hint), going Greek, or studying with somebody in your class will broaden your UMass experience. There are several diverse groups of interests and personalities on campus, so if you’re willing to talk to new people, try new things, and continue to grow, then you’ll give yourself the opportunity to make your college experience even better.
2. Take time to be alone.
People always seem to be doing something and going somewhere, so it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of UMass. However, it’s also important to take a step back and spend time by yourself. Chilling in your dorm room with the shades down and Netflix playing isn’t sad; it’s actually pretty beneficial, if you ask me. There’s no better way to relax than to lie around for a little, take a nap (or three), or call someone you miss.
3. Hit the gym.
Although it’s not always easy to make it to the gym, I promise it’s simpler than you think. Working out is proven to release stress, anger, and tension, so don’t be intimidated by all the juice-heads lifting weights and grunting. Just do your own thing—whether you’re interested in cardio machines or Zumba with Bobby, it’s up to you! You might want to die as you grind it out on the StairMaster, but after you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you’ll be more likely to tackle those chem problems waiting for you back at the dorm.
4. Be a “Yes Woman.”
Have you ever seen the movie starring Jim Carrey, “Yes Man”? (10/10, would recommend). In the film, he decides to start saying yes to everything that life throws his way. Even if it’s to a lesser extent, you’ve got to try this! Even though it’s a plot from a silly comedy, implementing this tip in my life has been the best decision I’ve made as a student. When a girl from class asks if you want to grab coffee, say yes. When a guy asks if you’d want to dance, say yes (if you’re comfortable). When your friends suggest getting off campus for a while and exploring Amherst, say yes! When you start saying yes, the world opens up a little more and begins offering so many more experiences than a simple “No, thanks” would lend. This strategy will lead to a fuller college experience. As Wayne Gretzky once said (yes, I am going to quote this): “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
5. Visit office hours.
This is an absolute must for any class you’re struggling with. In a 300+ person lecture, you may feel overwhelmed to ask a question or even approach your professor after class. However, office hours are a great way to talk to your professor or TA one-on-one. It can help you tremendously and stop you from feeling like you’re drowning in English papers or econ problem sets. Never be afraid to ask for help! It doesn’t mean that you’re not as intelligent as the rest of your classmates, it actually means you’re smart enough to actively engage in your education—which is why you’re at UMass, even though you might forget sometimes!
6. Get off campus.
As amazing as the UMass campus is, some days you just need to get away. A trip to the Holyoke Mall or downtown Northampton is enough to ground you and make you feel like a real person again—not just a college student who sees the same buildings and people every day. Take time to explore beyond campus, and find a place you love most that you can visit from time to time. As great as sitting by the campus pond can be, frequenting a local coffee shop on certain days might put you more at ease.
Never let fear get in the way of doing something you’re interested in—whether it’s trying out for the volleyball team or going to a club’s informational meeting, it could be the best decision you make at college. Have fun with your friends, work hard in your classes, and take some time to center yourself.