PHOTO CREDIT: JEFFREY SMITH
College can go from noisy to peaceful, difficult to effortless, lonely to crowded. Finding a secret study spot is one skill all freshman must learn in order to stay sane and keep up that GPA.   PHOTO CREDIT: JEFFREY SMITH

A few days before I began my freshman year at Stony Brook University, I was a mess. A tearful, 18-year-old mess. I was crying because I was afraid of the unknown. I knew I would forge new friendships, but how quickly, and with what kind of people? Would I live peacefully with my roommate? Could I ever find a major that satisfied my passions and would supply a hefty salary?

I was absolutely terrified.

Today I type this article as a seasoned sophomore, with last year’s memories fresh in my mind. Some make me cringe at my computer screen, but most of them fuel my excitement for this upcoming semester. Listed below are seventeen tips from my experience on how to not only survive, but thrive during freshman year. These made my first year of college intellectually stimulating, socially rewarding and overall one of the best times of my life. To the freshmen of 2015: I hope your first year will be amazing, too.

  1. It is okay, your roommate will become more than just a stranger that sleeps in a bed next to you. So get to know him or her. When you are pensively wondering if your new-found crush feels the same about you, she may joke your worries away. She could eat most of the oatmeal coconut cookies your mom baked for you, but generously share her snacks in return. She may open the door upon you and your significant other, but you will both laugh about it later. Communication and negotiation are key. In the end, you know he or she will have your back. Unless…
  2. If your roommate turns out to be a nightmare, get out of there. You may have to speak with your Residential Assistant and/or Residential Housing Director and see if you can move into another room. But first, at least try to work out your issues with your current roommate.
  3. Try to avoid ordering takeout as much as possible. I gained the infamous freshman fifteen by eating one too many pies from Domino’s (stay away from those lava cakes too). It is no myth.
  4. Do not obliterate your GPA when falling for the guy or gal sitting two rows over in your Biology class. No matter what happens, remember that your grades come first.
  5. Maintain your friendships back home. Do not lose touch with your most meaningful friends, especially if the are going through a rough first year. Call them weekly just to check up on them, and send messages that let them know you care.
  6. If you want to make new friends, don’t hibernate in your room. After my parents left me stranded in my dorm, I wandered aimlessly until I found a fellow freshman. A couple minutes later, we were Facebook friends and exploring our new campus together. It may take a long time to find those real buddies, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
  7. Don’t shy away from unfamiliar and foreign-sounding events. One example is Holi, hosted by the SBU Hindu Students Council and also celebrated worldwide. At this Hindu spring festival of colors and love, white-clothed attendees fling powder in all the colors of the rainbow at friends, family and strangers.
  8. Take lots of pictures and selfies. Images preserve your memories with the clarity that your mind does not always retain. However, try to avoid being that person whose Snapchat story can be adapted into a full-length movie.
  9. Stony Brook may have an unsocial reputation for some people, but there are multiple opportunities to have fun, so take them. Dine on Union burritos while watching a shooting star above Staller Steps at 1 a.m.. Participate in Halloween karaoke sing-alongs or frolic in the snow the morning after a snowstorm. Sing along to the music at Brookfest, an annual Stony Brook concert that hosted Panic! at the Disco, B.o.B., and Twenty One Pilots last spring. If you are complaining of having nothing to do, you are not looking hard enough.
  10. Create a daily/weekly regimen and exercise. It is difficult to solidify the boundaries between hunger and pleasure when it comes to college dieting. Find a workout buddy or go solo; just make sure you keep your body healthy and fit. You will need it when you fail tip number 3.
  11. Explore the town, explore Long Island, explore New York. Visit nearby Port Jefferson and scenic West Meadow Beach. If you’re from out of state, the railroad station on campus can also take you right to Manhattan.
  12. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Whether it is burning yourself cooking chicken kung pao noodles in the dorm kitchen or playing ultimate frisbee with a group of strangers, college is for experimenting.
  13. Find a secret study spot. Go somewhere with no distractions and plenty of peace and quiet and then maybe you will get some work done.
  14. When picking classes, choose your professors wisely. The right professor can make a huge difference in a difficult class. Ask past pupils for advice and consult websites like ratemyprofessor.com.
  15. Take notes during lectures. A professor’s word is gold, and personal notes can add further context to a concept or lesson in your own words. Whether you are more comfortable with scratching graphite onto a piece of paper or typing away on your laptop, find whatever method works best for you.
  16. When you are stressed, rely on your friends and family for emotional/physical support. SBU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is another resource. Some problems are too big to handle on your own.
  17. Do not procrastinate. Procrastination will destroy you when finals week approaches and homework assignments are due. But I know you will anyway, so stock up on energy drinks.The all-nighters are coming.

Do have other tips for this year’s freshmen? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @sbstatesman.

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