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7 Things to Do During Your First Year of College

Newness can be daunting- but doesn’t have to be intimidating. As you enter your first year of college, everyone around you will be sharing [perhaps unsolicited] advice, stories, and testimonies of their experiences. Kindly listen, but know that your years of undergraduate are your own. This is the perfect time for you to form new relationships, discover your passions, and make a multitude of memories. Use these years wisely and don’t wish them away. Here are some general tips to help foster a solid first-year experience:

Settle into your new home away from home

Moving out from your parent’s house can be a wild yet fun experience (especially in the middle of a global pandemic)! Whether you’re moving into a dorm or completely uprooting to an apartment or house with friends, it’s important to go through what you have and take note of your inventory. It takes time to thoughtfully plan out what you’re taking from home and what you’re parting with before starting this new chapter of your life. Make sure to hold onto some mementos that will ease anxiety and remind you of home. Home is where our hearts truly lie; don’t forget who you are and where you come from.

Enjoy all the free merch

Welcome week on every college campus is a blast. Things will definitely be different this year, but most campuses may offer a few festivities. Look for signage and other forms of advertisement to see how your school celebrates the start of a new academic year! Some host block parties while others pitch up tents and hand out free gear. Keep your eyes peeled for free t-shirts and goodies. Grab your roommate and a bag and stock up!

Try not to stress

This one is a challenge. Living a stress-free life is far easier said than done. I was so anxious about the newness of music school that my face severely broke out prior to the first day of school and took several days to calm down. Don’t worry: your fears will diffuse as you find your people and get into the groove of school. Just know that it takes a little time, and that is perfectly okay! Put yourself out there as much as you can and be kind to yourself. Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, exercise often, make music, go for a drive, and watch your favorite show.

Explore the city

It’s so easy to get stuck in patterns of life where we return to places that make us comfortable. I’ll admit, I love going back to the same joints and stores over and over again. However, our college years are the perfect opportunity to get out of our comfort zones and explore new places. There’s always a new restaurant to try in the closest suburb or a hidden thrift store downtown or an adorable co-op just behind your dorm. Get out and see what the world has to offer, but be safe doing so! Educate yourself and pay attention to local protocols during these times. 

Celebrate traditions (and make new ones!)

Holidays and milestones look a tad different once you get to school. Even though you may go home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, you’ll still have to celebrate some holidays and accomplishments with the people you’ve met at school. Go trick or treating together or decorate a Christmas tree in your dorm! Make a “fridge” on the wall with duct tape to post one another’s academic achievements. Get creative and have fun!

Treat yourself

Sure, the infamous “freshmen 15” can be a real thing if you’re not conscious about what you consume; however, it’s important to enjoy food and have a healthy view of it. A lot of campuses have fun food joints and coffee shops. Buy that chicken sandwich or donut or latte with two pumps of caramel! Being kind to yourself includes treating yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t deny your body of its cravings all the time. 

Express yourself

Our undergraduate years are the perfect time to do the three E’s: explore, experiment, and express [yourself]. The new environment and subsequent new liberties grant us the opportunity to see the world with a fresh perspective to truly figure out who we are. Find your people, discover your style, make a multitude of memories, and may you not forget your roots in the process. 

Hannah Shively

Youngstown '22

Hannah Shively is a senior pursuing her bachelor's degree in instrumental music education from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. She's very passionate about a lot of things: Jesus, music, coffee, fruit snacks, dogs, the cello, and being barefoot. She adores traveling, especially to the beach. You can often find her hanging out with friends, making music, eating delicious food, and going on new adventures.
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