Stories from College: How to NOT be a Freshman

One of the many lovely views I have enjoyed since my college journey began.

One of the many lovely views I’ve enjoyed since my college journey began.

I must say, it’s quite shocking going from seniority back to rookie status slowly over the course of three hot and sweaty months, and I know that it will be even more shocking and hard to get used to again in four years when I officially enter the work force and begin a job at which I have no experience whatsoever and will most definitely screw up. It’s going to be delightful. I cannot wait.

Anyways, at the beginning of this past summer, I honestly didn’t think this transition would be that difficult–or even that noticeable–as school drew nearer and nearer to starting. I thought, psh, everyone is essentially equal in college. No one will even be able to tell that I’m a freshman!

Well, I was most certainly wrong about that. Heading into the third week of school now, I see that it is beyond obvious that I have never been here before. Over these last three weeks, I have made so many mistakes and have made a fool of myself so many times that you would have to be a complete moron (or a fellow freshman) to not realize it’s my first year.

I’m not exaggerating here, either. It’s been a beyond less-than-glamorous quarter of a semester. If I wasn’t one to laugh at myself every time I did something stupid, I don’t think I would be here right now. Instead of writing a post in the library before my first class of the day, I would be hiding under the nearest rock, mortified, terrified to show my face to the world.

I guess it was pretty stupid of me to think that transitioning to college would be easy in the first place. I mean, every first day somewhere new is never great, and every time you start out at a new job or a new school, it takes a little while to get used to things. Everyone knows that; it’s common sense. But, if there’s one thing I tend to lack at times, it is definitely common sense, so it doesn’t surprise me that I didn’t see any of my experiences coming.

But, even with all of the horrible things that I have been through over the last three weeks, I do have to say that I have come out on the other side with quite the handful of lessons learned about both myself and life in general, and these have changed me in a bigger way than I could have ever imagined. It’s almost like transitioning to my university was this epic hero’s journey that has left me forever a different person.

Okay, well, maybe that’s a little bit melodramatic, but I will most definitely admit that I am a better person than I was three weeks ago when I walked into my first class on campus. I feel nicer, sweeter, more cultured, more mature, more experienced. I feel like, for the first time, I am actually living my life. Even though I am amidst all of my studies and have already had to write about five papers, I have more free time than ever before. And the icing on the cake: everything I’m learning, I actually care about! It actually pertains to me! Gosh, it’s so invigorating! I just can’t get over the difference from high school. Learning is actually fun, and I’m not surrounded by half-drunk, half-high idiots. I’m with people who love to learn and who, more importantly, love to learn about the same things I do. It’s utterly magnificent. It’s a complete game-changer, my friends.

But, now that that tangent is over with, I should get back to the topic at hand: my first three weeks of my freshman year of college. We’ll start with day one, for that was just riveting.

I commute with my sister to school everyday from our home about 10 minutes away from campus, but her classes start a few hours later than mine (I got that 9 a.m. swag), so I go into town each morning with my dad, who works on the north end of the city. Too bad for me, though, my college campus is on the south end. We have since figured out a better plan for this situation, but on that first day, he parked at his work, and I walked to school.

No big deal, right? Right. It’s anywhere from a 15 to 20 minute walk depending on how many other folks are partaking in the day’s footlight parade, and that length of time is totally okay with me. I love walking places. But there are two things that are not quite so dandy: the walk is always hot, and it’s always uphill. As you probably have just assumed, that doesn’t necessarily make for the best combo.

Now, my school is near the local arena, so I’m used to the walk form previous years when we would park by my dad’s work and walk across town to whatever event we were seeing (typically an NHL game). But even in the dead of winter when it barely reached 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside, I would still be sweating by the end of the trek. It’s simply a path that takes a lot of energy and causes a lot of lactic acid fermentation, thus causing a lot of internal body heat and sweat. There’s just no way to avoid a hardcore workout when traversing this area of town.

Anyways, the point to this is that, by the time I arrived on campus, I was literally dripping sweat. I was wearing a cotton dress, a bra, and underwear only (not necessarily in that order) and it was only 70 degrees outside, and I still looked like I just ran a marathon. I mean, come on! I would’ve had to have been naked to not overheat! It was plain, old unfair.

So, I looked like a sweaty gremlin for the first hour of the first day of school, including the first few minutes of my calculus class, which, might I add, is filled to the brim with fine, fine young men. But, hey, I’m not lookin’ for lovin’ anytime soon–and I’ve never been one to make good first impressions, anyway, so oh well.

Speaking of my calc class, though, there’s a blind kid in there with a guide dog. He sits right by the door (for obvious reasons), and the guide dog just lays across the aisle right where you turn to go into the first row. Of course, with it being the first day, I didn’t know that this kid was blind, that he had a guide dog, or that said dog would be lounging in front of the aisle, so I walked into the room, saw an open seat behind the kid, turned and went to walk towards it…and missed crushing the dog’s left thigh by about five millimeters. Both the kid and the dog gave me very nasty glares. And, being a fellow dog owner, I didn’t blame them. I was mortified! What if I had stepped on his dog??

This sweaty gremlin almost killed a puppy…

As a side note: That dog and his owner (who is only partially blind, by the way) have been the highlight of my first three weeks of college thus far. Archer is the dog–a cute, cuddly black lab–and Nick is his owner (who is just as equally cute and cuddly, but in that platonic sort of way). It’s my goal to be their best friends by the end of this semester. Let’s see if I can make it happen!

I have to say, though, that the biggest ordeal of my first day is what happened 10 minutes into my walk through town. I suddenly heard a woman yelling, “Miss! Miss!” She was saying it over and over and sounded really, really panicked, like this “miss” was about to unknowingly walk in front of a bus. I turned around, and the woman ran up to me. She whispered in my right ear, “Miss, your bag is riding up your dress. You might want to fix that.”

I, of course, was shocked and horrified and mortified and blushing and just generally wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I reached back, pulled my dress down, and lo and behold, I had just flashed 32% of the downtown area my underwear. Like I said before, you’re talking to the queen of first impressions here.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day awkwardly holding my bag in front of me when I walked so that I could spare the college campus the same sight that so many businessmen and women had the pleasure of seeing that morning. And even though I looked like a fool doing so, I didn’t care. Not everyone can get a free show, you know.

Another thing I discovered on the first day: freshmen and transfers are the only ones with no friends. Just like anywhere else in the world, the new kid is the quiet kid, and he sticks out like a sore thumb because of that. But, in my case, I didn’t just stick out like a sore thumb to the veterans of my university. Even in my freshmen-only classes, I was the only one with no friends because everyone else lived in the same building, on the same floor. They had all known each other for about two weeks at that point. And then there was me. #commuterswag

At the end of day one, I stumbled into my car and screamed in relief. My sister! Someone I knew! As we headed home, though, dread started filling my mind, for I realized I would have to do the same thing over and over again every single day for the next 14 weeks. Ugh…

What I learned from that first pivotal day was three things: 

1. Don’t wear a dress without wearing some type of shorts or spandex underneath.
2. Bring a rag if you’ve got a long walk. And some deodorant. Always bring deodorant.
3. Talk to people. Even if you’ve never seen that person before in your life, say hi or talk about the weather. Just talk to someone! You may feel weird, but it will look totally normal to everyone else. Fake it till you make it, baby!

Anyway, nothing else super exciting happened that first week. Really, it was just me figuring out my way around campus, following the same paths, finding out which doors were pull and which were push (mainly by awkwardly walking into them), going to the same places over and over, etc., etc. That, mixed with getting hit on by homeless men during my walk to school and inhaling the cigarette smoke of fellow humans as we made our way through this toxic world together, made it not too horrible of a week. I mean, I could’ve gotten lost or something awful like that.

Cue week two, and, oh, wait, I did get lost. Like, I went into class on the one side of the room, left on the other side of the room, and ended up on a completely different street, down the hill from the campus. How does that even happen?? I still can’t figure it out.

And when I finally got back to the parking garage, the elevator decided to make the same exact noise that The Tower of Terror makes before the ride takes you up to drop you. Never had that elevator made that sound before, and never has it made it since, might I add…

The icing on the cake: I got to the top, and the elevator door was stuck.

Really? Was I being Punk’d? Ashton? You can come out any time now, you know.

No, but really, it was terrifying. I was about to pull a Richard Castle and drop to the floor, just in case. (See the clip right here.)

castle on floor

I also had a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of downtown that week (story of my life, I guess). I wore a skirt that was a little too big on me, so I pinned it to keep it away from my ankles. Well, about two minutes from campus, the pin came undone, and the skirt dropped. Luckily, though, I caught it before it went below my hip bones. Cue Chris Pine, Lindsay Lohan, and McFly, please!

‘Rain clouds are gathering in number, just when I put away my jumper. Luck and love still aren’t on my siiiide!’

Justmyluck (1)

All of this bad stuff, well, it’s just my luck 😦

God bless Danny Jones and that voice of his! Mmmm!

Eh-hem, after that tangent, last–but certainly not least–for week two, I walked straight into the library doors because I had no idea that you needed to use your swipe card to get in before 8 a.m. No joke here, I was that bird that has no idea that windows are a thing before it tries to fly inside someone’s house. Yeah, the looks I got from the people around me as I body-slammed the glass were awful. Oh, and the laughs, too. So, smooth Leah turned around and practically ran into the building next door, then waited 20 minutes before returning to the library. No one even remembered me by then. It was great!

I’m so fly sometimes, I just can’t handle it.

Lessons from the second week:

1. Buy clothes in the appropriate size or get professional tailoring if something ends up being too large. Unless you don’t mind surprise stripping in the streets. Then wear all the over-sized clothes and self-hemmed garments you can find!
2. Unless there is a fire, always exit a room the same way you entered.
3. Don’t be a dumb bird. Read signs on doors before trying to push them.
4. Never underestimate the power of Ashton Kutcher.

Now we have finally arrived at week three! So far, it’s been good, even if only two days in. I’m really enjoying everything and am looking forward to continuing my education. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the whole college thing. I’ve always had a knack for school, but I didn’t know if I truly wanted to go through with it. I went solely because that was what was expected of me. But now I love it. I’ve gotten over the original shock of loneliness and clueless-ness (which I haven’t felt in a very, very long time) and am able to finally appreciate the type of learning that I’m entering into. It is focused, specialized, and about everything I love. The professors care more about me and my learning than high school teachers ever did, and they actually know what the heck they’re talking about! It’s just an overall great experience, even if I still have yet to make friends. (Although, I have talked to many, many people in order to avoid awkward situations. Look at me, learning from my mistakes!)

I don’t know if this post actually teaches anything specifically about how to not be a “freshman” when you go to college, high school, or anywhere else in the world for the first time, but hopefully you can at least learn a little something from my personal experiences these past weeks to help you not look like a fool (with or without your pants on the ground) wherever you happen to be in life.

Because if there’s one thing you never want to be, it’s me as a freshman. Ever. Seriously. It’s the worst.

Well, I guess there’s Hitler, too…

Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting with frequent updates as my years in college progress. Hopefully the updates will be just as thrilling as this one. And of this one wasn’t thrilling, well, then I guess I’ve set the bar low, and they can only get better from here!


P.S.- I figured, since I haven’t had the chance to post this quite yet, I would update real quick with a very important lesson learned during Wednesday of this third week: If you ever decide to wear pointed-toe shoes and are not used to wearing such creations on a regular basis, make sure you look down when you walk up stairs. Some unusual extra length added to your foot as you climb, well, I think that’s all I need to say for this one.



One thought on “Stories from College: How to NOT be a Freshman

  1. Pingback: Happy Anniversary! (And Happy Sunday!) | ledandev

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