Do’s and don’ts of the first week at the University
August 12, 2016
The first week of school can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time for freshmen. By being open to new experiences, students can find a community of friends on campus and be ready to take on the rest of the year.
Keep your door open
This is one of the most basic tips that every freshman is told, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is. As a freshman, some of the first people you meet on campus will be the ones living by you, and it is important to come across as friendly.
As a freshman, I did not have an instant connection with my roommate and we never ended up becoming best friends, but two years later, the girls who lived in the rooms on either side of mine are some of my best friends. When things were uncomfortable in my room or I needed someone to talk to, these girls always kept an open door, both literally and figuratively, for me to come and talk to them.
Go to floor events
Each floor in a residence hall will have a Resident Advisor (RA) who is in charge of the floor. These upperclassmen students are a great resource if you have issues on campus, and they work hard to make their floors as welcoming as possible.
In the first couple of weeks, my RA scheduled a game of capture the flag on campus, a trip to Curtis Apple Orchard and an ice cream social. These events were a great way to meet people and learn more about campus.
Eat in the dining halls
Champaign-Urbana is home to great restaurants, coffee shops and food trucks, but for the first couple weeks of school, try to eat in the dining halls as much as possible. It is a great way to meet other students, and it’s good to take advantage of the meals before you get sick of eating them.
If you live in University housing, your meal plan will work at any of the campus dining halls. The first few weeks are a great time to head to different halls to find your favorite meals. After the first month or so, it is easy to get in a routine and miss out on eating at those halls.
As a freshman, I was a little overwhelmed by campus and I wasn’t confident that I would be able to find all of my classes on time. The weekend before school started, I went with a group of friends and walked through all of our classes. It was a great way to get to know campus a little better and have a lot of fun with the people I had just met.
Additionally, as you map out your schedule, see if you have any classes with people you know or lunch breaks at the same time. When classes get stressful, it’s nice to know you’ll see a friendly face at some point during the day.
Be open to meeting new people
In general, just be willing to go out of your comfort zone and meet new people. All freshmen are in the same boat; they are a little nervous, a little excited and looking for people to share this crazy college journey with.
In the first week, it may feel like you answer the same questions – name, major, hometown –over and over again, but you’ll soon be glad that you’ve introduced yourself to so many people. Some of those friendships will stick, and you’ll move past small talk quickly enough.
Hole up in your room
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Netflix marathon, but during the first week of school, stay off your computer and get out of your room. Netflix will be there later in the year, especially in January and February when it’s cold out, but Welcome Weekend only happens once a year. Go to Sights and Sounds, Quad Day and Taste of Nevada.
In your free time, go to the ARC and climb the rock wall or float in the pool. Find your hobbies at school, and save those new episodes for when you need a break later.
Only hang out with people from your high school
There were about 10 people from my graduating class that came to the University with me, but I made a conscious decision to not only hang out with them in the first weeks of school. While it is nice to have a group of people you know, the University offers an amazing opportunity to get to know people from all over the world and you can then introduce them to friends from home.
Ignore bus routes
If you take advantage of the campus bus system, realize that the direction of the bus is just as important as the name. This might be obvious to some students, but on my first trip to the mall, I took the 20 Red U, not realizing the U was taking me to Urbana and I needed to get on the 20 Red C to get to Champaign.
Downloading the Illini Bus app can save you some trouble by giving you directions, bus stop locations and departure times for the area.
Finally, enjoy the first week, but don’t panic if you are not immediately integrated and at ease on campus. For many students, it takes time for the University to feel like home. For me, once that happened, Champaign-Urbana became one of my favorite places to be.
Isabella is a junior in LAS.