Lived It. Learned It.

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It blows my mind whenever I think about how I just finished my sophomore year of school here at the U. Freshman year seems like it was forever ago and yesterday all at the same time. It's crazy to think about how much I've learned and how far I've come since that first day on campus way back when. You better believe there are things I wish I would have known when I first started out here. Lucky for you, I made plenty of mistakes through my freshman year, so many in fact, that I'll share a few with you now in hopes of you avoiding the slip ups that I've already made for the both of us.
1) Just because the dorm food is all you can eat DOES NOT MEAN you must eat everything. The "freshman 15" is part myth and part truth, it all depends on how you handle yourself in those dining halls. Handy things to keep in mind are: dessert does not need to come after every meal, cereal does not need to accompany every dish, and don't fight the vegetables (you know you like them).
2) If you could be sleeping, you should be sleeping. What I mean by this is that you don't need to stay up all night just for the sake of staying up all night. Yeah it's fun to hang out with friends, roommates, and floormates, but by the time midterms and finals roll around and you're searching for sleep in Coffman on an armchair, you'll come to realize how sacred sleep really is. Be productive, have fun, but budget enough time so that you're at least semi-well-rested for each day.
3) If you meet someone, acknowledge them when you see them next. I'm not so sure if I need to explain further, but I will. Basically, through the course of your freshman year, and really life in general, you will meet many, many people. So many people, in fact, that you won't remember them all, but if you do see someone when you're in the dining hall, walking down the street, or out on a Friday night, just say hi! You don't need to talk for hours, you don't need to share your deepest secrets, but trust me, it's so awkward when you don't acknowledge them. Just imagine all of the eye contact you'll have to avoid and how interesting your cell phone or the wallpaper will become. Trust me on this one, JUST SAY HI. They'll be glad you did and so will you.
So study up, incoming students, and learn from the mistakes I've made. I wish you all good luck in the years to come! I'm sure you'll be just fine.

-Ashley Ochiagha

Roommates and Friends

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My freshmen year, I roomed with my best friend from high school, Meg*. I assumed it would be the most epic match in the world. We already spent all of our time together; we had the most fun together. It made sense for this to translate to college and living together. Yeah, not so much. I learned that year that there is a giant difference between spending all your time together and actually living together.
What do I mean by this? Meg and I always had our problems and, being as close as we were, we both wrongly assumed we knew everything about each other. This put us in a tricky position because those tiny annoyances that were easy to live with when we lived a seven minute drive away from each other became exponentially harder to endure when our lofted beds were four feet across the room. Pet peeves we already recognized became gigantic, fueling monsters of hate when brand new annoyances were added. She'd loan out my DVDs to neighbors; I'd leave my books on the futon and the passive-aggressive WWIII continued until spring semester when she moved out. She literally snuck off in the middle of the night with all of her things (and the TV!) and moved in with a friend down the hall. I will be lying if I said I wasn't relieved.
Looking back now, I realize that a big part of our problems stemmed from our lack of communication. If the two of us had been open and honest about the way we felt, we probably wouldn't of had many of the problems that we had. We both assumed the other would just know our boundaries and it hurt/was enraging when that wasn't the case. It's easy to get coddled in the idea that because you know the person, living together will be a breeze. If anything, I feel it's more work. Living with a stranger allows for the opportunity to build a friendship as you're getting to know each other as roommates; living with friends takes conscious effort to recognize that you are still learning about this person despite prior years of friendship.
In all honesty, Meg and I should never have lived together and to this day we no longer speak. But still, the whole experience taught me a lot about myself. I learned to recognize the things that I can compromise and live with, while identifying the areas where I truly needed to grow as a person. Living with Meg allowed me to seek traits that would garner a healthy, living relationship for the future. My relationship with my current roommate is amazing and I truly think a big part of that has to do with all that I learned living with Meg that first year.

*Name has been changed

First Day Jitters

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My name is Chuck Seymour, and I am one of four Student Program Coordinators who work in the office for Orientation & First-Year Programs. As I write this post, I am finishing up the last few weeks of my third year here at the University of Minnesota. I am studying Scientific and Technical Communication through the Writing Studies Department, so I spend a lot of my time in front of a computer typing up memos, directions, proposals, and technical essays. When I am not glued to the computer screen, I spend my time hanging out with my friends, playing racquetball or running, and exploring Minneapolis and St. Paul. I often venture down to St. Anthony Main area for good food and a beautiful view of the city. If you ever feel active the trails along the Mississippi River are fantastic to run along and, they border the St. Anthony main area.

I grew up in Aurora, Illinois, so choosing to start over in Minneapolis was a little intimidating for me. I realized a few weeks after I accepted my invitation to be a Golden Gopher that I would not know a single person at the U or even in Minnesota. I had just spent the last eight years of my life with the same close group of friends, and now I had to go start all over. I wasn't even sure if I knew how to meet people anymore. How was I going to find a close group of friends at the U where there are nearly 30,000 students? As move in day approached, my nervousness started to get the best of me. In fact, I began to have an internal battle about whether or not I made the right decision to attend college in Minnesota. At the end of the day, I was not sure I would fit in.

Nevertheless, move-in day eventually came, and my parents and I packed up the car for the 6-hour drive to Minneapolis. The entire drive up I was constantly thinking about how life would be once I moved in and my parents would leave for Illinois. I didn't want to admit it at the time, but I was a flat out scared. I didn't want my parents to leave right away; however, they helped me finish unpacking and hit the road for home before dinner. I met my roommate later that day, and to my surprise, we were a lot alike. Thankfully, he also happened to have a few friends in his fraternity to introduce me to, so in the matter of one day I met a group of guys that I shared similar interests with. That night a bunch of us went out to the volleyball courts and played a few games with other students in the Super Block. Meeting everyone that day immediately helped ease the anxiety that had built up over the months prior to moving in, and I started to believe I had made the right decision about college.

As I continued to explore the University and adjust to college life I began to realize that the more I met people and became involved, the more comfortable I felt on campus. I first recognized this when I joined the same fraternity as my roommate. Various social and philanthropic events that Greek organizations held provided me with a great opportunity to make new friends during my first few months on campus. I expanded my circle of friends when I decided to get an on-campus job during my first semester as well. A few of the students I worked with actually had some of the same classes as me. In fact, a few of us volunteered together throughout our first year through the opportunities that were provided through our leadership course. I still continue to get involved in various ways on campus so I can make the University feel like home.
To all the students in the incoming freshman class, make sure to explore all of the different resources and activities here on campus to find the right fit for you. You may find that your first few days or even weeks on campus will be a hard transition, but keep finding ways to meet people and I promise that you will eventually find the right place for you. Despite all the people I met early on in college, it still took me a few weeks before I could comfortably call the University of Minnesota home. Three years later I am still meeting new people and learning more about the Twin Cities. And each day I find that I have created my new home away from home.


Best Regards,
Chuck Seymour

Dear Class of 2016,
If I'm doing my job right, hopefully you have some familiarity with who I am. I'm Raven, the Digital Media Intern in the Orientation and First-Year Programs (OFYP) Office. I've been attending the U for the past four years. I started off as a part-time PSEO student (for those of you who don't know, PSEO is program that allows high school juniors and seniors to take college classes for credit), but still remain officially in the class of 2013. I'm a Studies in Cinema and Media Cultures major, which is a just a very long way to say film studies, and a double minor in Art and Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature. So if you ever want to discuss film and movies, social theory, or the rule of thirds, I am your gal.

When I'm not writing papers or spending long nights in editing labs, I enjoy spending time with friends and watching 30 Rock on Netflix. I like to wear Converseā„¢ and spend too much money on McDonald's. I think the world would be a better place if everyone listened to Laura Marling and I'm currently addicted to Instagram (@rstjohnson). Also, my favorite word is "indexical."

Reading your questions and comments via Facebook have been some bittersweet moments for me. On one hand, it makes me miss the newness and excitement of my freshmen year and yet, I'm extremely grateful for all the experiences leading to where I am at the U now (ugh, I feel old, but hopefully sound ridiculously wise). Everyone's college experience is going to be different, so I can only speak to my own experience and any advice I have should be taken with a grain of salt.

I think it's important to realize that whatever expectations you have for college, you should expect to be surprised, gratified, and disappointed. Yes, it may be one of the best times of your life, but it is also A LOT of hard work. There is a joke you will probably hear a lot soon: 1) Social Life, 2) Good Grades, or 3) Enough Sleep. Pick any two. That is true to a point. It's a big step coming from high school to college, one that comes with a tremendous amount of independence and responsibility. But with that, college is the time to fully explore who you are and who you would like to be, not just prepare for a career. So be open to new experiences and friendships and take part in any opportunities that come your way. In doing that, I promise, you will be able to look back at your college experience without any regrets!