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April 17, 2007 > Freshman Life 101

Freshman Life 101

By Mekala Raman

It is two weeks before move-in day and I have just come back from a grueling day of shopping. I am exhausted, but confident that I have finally acquired all the necessary supplies to begin my new life at college. With this satisfying thought in mind and a light smile on my face, I reach for my phone, which is ringing. My friend who has already been at school for a few days is on the other end and after the initial pleasantries she exclaims, "I am so glad I remembered to get that power strip and all those extra batteries. Without these my life would be over by now!" The smile that once adorned my face quickly vanished. Power strip? Batteries? I hadn't even thought of these things. I thought I was done once I had purchased my new bed set and all the bath supplies I would ever use.

Two weeks (and hours of shopping) later, it is finally move-in day. After staying up all night cramming every last knick-knack into five boxes, four suitcases, three bins, two duffel bags, and a backpack, I am very tired, but excited about starting my new life. Once all the baggage is stored in the van we are all ready to go, but I realize I have left my ipod connected to the charger. With ipod in hand, I remember that my camera is still lying on my desk and race back inside to grab it. After five more false starts, we are finally on the road to school; anticipation crackles in the air.

When we finally get to school and haul all the luggage up to the dorm room, I meet my new roommate and we decide on sides. I will be living on the right side of this room for the next year. I quickly unpack my things, grab a well-situated locker in the bathroom before only the top or bottom lockers are left, and stash all my clothes in the closet and dresser. Then, as I am making the bed, I realize that I have left my pillows at home. My parents rush to the nearest shopping center and buy new pillows, ensuring that my first night passes as comfortably as possible. Later that night, my roommate and I discuss anything and everything, mostly how unbelievable our new situation is.

For the next few days, the college pulls out all the stops during orientation. My floor has "ice-breaker meetings" almost every night and I meet a few of my peers. The usual conversation consists of, "Hi, what's your name? What's your major? What classes are you taking?" After three days I have met at least five Johns and Sarahs, all of whom are Biology, Engineering, and English majors. However, the initial layer of ice is broken and I am slowly forming new friends.

The dining hall is a whole new experience. As soon as I enter, an all-you-can-eat buffet of all kinds of food greets my eyes and I have no idea where to start. For today I decide to try the pizza. I sit at a table with a few other people I had met recently and quickly bite into the hot savory pizza, enjoying the luscious flavor. As I chew, I realize, with a jolt, that tomorrow is my first day of classes. I plan to wake up early, dress nicely, find where all my classes are, and prepare my brand new notebooks. I have also opened up a file on my computer to act as a memo pad and I list everything that comes to mind so that I will not forget to do it.

It is finally the first day of classes and several other people have woken up at the crack of dawn, just like me. After eating breakfast and checking the map for the umpteenth time, I embark on my first day of school as a freshman in college.......

By now, about one-third of the quarter has passed, and midterms are just a few days away. All my peers are approaching nervous breakdowns at the idea, since most classes are only comprised of midterm and final grades. Every grade you get matters. With this new, and frightening concept in mind, I feverishly read my textbook, all my notes, and online study guides. By now I have forgotten about the file in my computer and little post-it notes line the edge of my desk reminding me of all the tasks I must accomplish. Midterms are a very stressful time.

Thanksgiving has come and all my midterms are over. After the short break, I am coming back to school for three more weeks, which is when finals will start. A pile of homework is just waiting to be worked on and I remember back to the first few weeks when I was so studious that I would do extra problems. However, instead of attacking my homework, I decide that this would be a good time to get a head start in avoiding the "Freshman Fifteen." I go to the gym and discover a large facility filled with a whole variety of ways to exercise and work out. For today, I hop onto the treadmill, do a twenty-minute work out, and do weights for a little while. An hour later, I walk out feeling very accomplished and very hungry.

I walk over to the dining hall only to find that it closed two minutes ago and will not let me in. I come back to my room and examine the junk - I mean health - foods that line my shelves. Eventually, I have picked out a meal of popcorn, granola bars, canned fruits, cereal, pop-tarts, cookies, and hot chocolate. As I munch on this hearty meal, I start wondering how well I am doing in the fight against the "Freshman Fifteen" and promise myself that I will work harder next time.

Finally, two weeks have passed and the dreaded, yet inevitable finals are just around the corner. How on earth could the quarter have passed so quickly? My slacking off has paid off and the material that I should have been learning since day one, I am now cramming into one day. As the pressure builds, students look for outlets, meaning an upswing in junk food intake. My comfort food of choice is a large tub of cookie dough ice cream. This makes the devouring of volume upon volume of information much sweeter.

Finally, I am sitting in the exam room frantically finishing my last final exam. As the two-hour slot comes to a close I make sure I have shown all my work and circled all the answers and turn it in. As I walk out of the exam room, I breathe a sigh of relief and look back on my first quarter. It really wasn't so bad and even though there had been some adjusting during orientation and a heavy load of course-work throughout the quarter and, of course, the unbelievable tension during midterms and finals, I had also made many new friends, learned some very valuable academic information, and also learned a lot about myself and what it was like to function on my own without my family. Also, at this point, I am looking at several completely stress-free weeks for winter break!

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