First week of a new academic year

Right now you are half way through your first week of classes.  For some it is new for you, for others it may be just new subject material.  Whatever year on campus is for you, the first weeks are exciting, overwhelming, and exhausting.

In coming weeks you will begin to settle into routines.  You will come to know when the dining hall has the best hours for you to not have to wait as much.  You will find out when the gym is the quietest or if you like the most social the most crowd.  You will start to recognize more people on campus and even if you don’t know their name you can at least place them.  In class you will have your unofficial assigned seat and will probably get pissed if someone sits in your seat.  It is an unwritten rule and one that most students hold to the letter of the law.

Be sure to take advantage of what the Week of Welcome offers.  It is a chance to observe, participate, and learn a multitude of clubs, functions, and societies on campus.  Most of the time it comes with free food.  I mean who doesn’t want free food.  Sometimes there is even UVM swag that is pretty cool.  I would stress that if you are trying out something completely new and maybe even something that you might not want to return to, be respectful, ask questions, listen, it might surprise you what you can learn or come to understand.

Make sure to set some boundaries for yourself as well.  When discovering new things on campus, make sure you make a plan of how things will fit.  It is truly impossible to do it all and it is okay.  Sometimes people forget that simple thing, it is okay.  Talk to your roommate(s), communication is key.  You may click now and things are fantastic and you are doing EVERYTHING together.  That is fantastic, but remember it is also okay to talk to them and say I need some time apart, doesn’t mean you don’t want to hang out with them at all, but everyone needs their space.  Figure out a system that works.  Or you may not click at the moment or at all.  Yeah that might be miserable, but communicate, figure out what will work.  You don’t need to be besties, but you do need to figure out how to live for the next year, semester, week, or day with them.

My freshman roommate and I were not best of friends and it was a tough year living together.  Sharing a space that size when you are not used to it or even if you are used to it, is tough, especially if you do not get along.  From what I know now, I wish I communicated more with her.  I wish I knew that it was okay we weren’t going to be lasting friends.  She transferred her sophomore year, but over the summer before she started her new school, she reached out to me and asked what could have been different.  I truly wished we had that conversation during the school year.  We were able to be honest with each other and I truly hoped what I told her helped her with her new roommate.

Twenty years ago last week, I stepped foot on my college campus for the first time and my two best friends.  This coming weekend I go off to Maine to visit with them.  I am not saying you are going to find your best friend in the first week of school, it happened for me, but I know it doesn’t always happen for everyone.  But I can tell you, during these past 20 years (especially the four during college) were not always sunshine and rainbows.  We had our ups and downs and we made it work.  And not to harp more about it, we communicated to make it work.

If you can take anything away from what I have babbled on about make sure you communicate and take care of yourself.  Enjoy the rest of the week!!