And other things that went through my mind during early years at X
Everyone gets told pretty cliché advice when starting out as a university student. Don’t procrastinate, don’t get behind on your readings, all that stuff; it’s all good advice, but it’s a little obvious. Obviously, we shouldn’t procrastinate, but you will at least once. It’s evident that the assigned readings are important, but you’ll be lying if you say you’ve never at least thought of skipping one. I’m not here to give people tips that they’ve heard a million times. Instead, I want to share some of the things I learned about adapting to university social life and adapting to living on my own.
I found my frosh year pretty difficult to get used to at first. It took until after Thanksgiving to really feel comfortable on campus. Frosh week felt like one-half partying and one-half summer camp, especially with O Crew banging on our doors at early hours and memorizing all those house chants (I was a Chillis Chick, so the chants were a pretty focal part). Being in a new town, with no one familiar around, I decided to try and be as approachable as possible. I was majorly worried that I’d end September with no real friendships. I decided to be fearless by introducing myself to random people I met at meal hall, it was not something I would normally do. But honestly, a couple of those people I approached in frosh week meal hall turned into real friends that I’ve had through my entire eXperience. So my first piece of advice is this – don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Even if you’re shy, get out of your comfort zone just a bit and talk to people. Sure, many people I hung out with in frosh week never became friends of mine, but had I not made those attempts, I would have never made those connections.
In second year, I moved from MacKinnon Hall and into an apartment in Somers and I’ve been there ever since. Though it’s not exactly the same as living off campus – no rent every month, no landlords etc, I think some of my experiences getting settled into an apartment ring true for everyone. By far the most difficult thing to get used to was the garbage. Getting on top of our garbage, recyclables and especially compost was annoying, mostly because of fruit flies. The super hot September weather, paired with leaving our garbage in the apartment for too long, is what drew the flies out. The only way we were able to get rid of them was putting glasses of cider vinegar covered with plastic wrap around the apartment. I doubt we were the only ones who were too naive about garbage while making the transition from a residence to an apartment!
Today I feel foolish for having been so unequipped to deal with garbage; something I used to think was pretty basic. Underestimating everyday chores was definitely the biggest mistake I made when transitioning to a new living environment. And I won’t lie – it’s just more unnecessary stress on top of why we’re all here: to get that degree. In the end, we learned from our mistakes and never had a problem of that magnitude in our apartment, but I really feel bad for anyone going through a similar experience right now. Getting on top of your own housework makes your living space less stressful, and I think it contributes to how well you study, too.
I don’t think university is as much about preparing you for the “real world” as it is forcing you to face real day-to-day problems. University is an important stage of your life, it is a transitional step from youth to adulthood. Getting out of my comfort zone and taking my living arrangements seriously really did help me adapt to this stage in my life. Hopefully my experiences help anyone else having a rough time settling into their once-in-a lifetime experience as a StFX undergrad.