Don’t worry if campus doesn’t immediately feel like home


The Daily Illini File Photo

The Main Quad in the heart of campus. Design editor Cindy thinks this is a great place to relax and catch up with friends.

By Jamie Linton, Assistant Opinions Editor

The quote, “College is only four years, but if you do it right four years is enough,” can seem equal parts reassuring and terrifying for an incoming freshman. There’s an abundance of external pressure to “make the most of your experience” and “enjoy the best years of your life.” And while taking advantage of the judgment-free zone that is your “wild freshman days” is encouraged, realize it’s OK if the campus doesn’t feel like a home away from home right off the bat.  

At first, you’ll receive plenty of unsolicited advice like “everyone is just as scared as you are” and “no one else knows what they’re doing either”; however, these words of encouragement can easily seem fabricated when you take your first steps on campus.  All of the sudden, somehow everyone on your residence hall’s floor has befriended one another without you and entire high schools have banded together in the dining hall. This is intimidating, to say the least, but not to worry; all of this is temporary.

Naturally, your group of friends will fall together; you’ll meet people through your major, RSOs, Greek life and other organizations. But if you want some quick reassurance to alleviate new school anxieties, there are a couple of sure-fire ways to not feel like the odd one out.

Befriend your roommate

There’s nothing like living with your best friend. Having someone to come home to for company, moral support or just a friend to eat dinner with is vital in making this campus feel like home. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely your roommate is going to become your best friend. That’s OK. However, for the first couple of days of ritualistic freshman events like convocation, relying on your roommate’s company will equip you with the confidence you need.  

Talk to classmates in your major

The best thing about a small major is you eventually get to know everyone in your year and otherwise. Alternatively, if you’re studying in a larger college, it can be difficult to recognize your classmates. Talking to people in your major classes has its perks socially and academically because not only can you expand your friend group, you also have people to study with, ask questions to and share notes if you miss a class. Even better, you already have something in common and likely other mutual interests that pertain to your field. Unlike spontaneously striking up a conversation with a stranger in the library, it’s more normalized to strike up a conversation in a classroom setting.     

Utilize social media

There’s always that one kid who everyone already knows because they post every other day on the incoming freshmen Facebook page. You definitely don’t want to be the person that posts on social media excessively, but small acts such as following people you may have mutual friends with on Instagram or Facebook messaging a student you think you’d get along with never hurts. Sure, you may get left on read and awkwardly run into them later, but it’s more likely you’ll have at least established acquaintanceship with someone you could ask to get dinner with one night. Some of the people I met before the first day of class freshman year I’m still close friends with going into my third year.

Freshman year can be summed up in one word: shameless. As unnatural as it feels, the best way to take advantage of being a freshman is to take the chances you won’t be able to the rest of your college career. It will feel uncomfortable, uncharacteristic and uncool, but the small steps you take the first few weeks of freshman year will pay off when you’re a senior, or at least make for some great stories.

Jamie is a junior in Media.

[email protected]