Preventing the ‘Freshman 15’

Between a virtual water fountain of beer, your lack of physical activity between the classes you actually go to, the proximity of Chipotle (you may not know what it is now, but it will become a valuable part of your GW experience; head down to the 18th and M street location and experience it) and more beer, preventing weight gain in college is as likely as GW lowering tuition.

And don’t think working out at the Hell Well will help you unless you are looking to participate in the daily fashion show that goes on in the state-of-the-art work out facility. Guys, break out your muscle T-shirts and ladies, makes sure you have your Tiffany’s bracelets on because you will be working out your eyes more than any muscle.

I am not a dietician, but I do have some practical suggestions for enjoying your time at GW. While you don’t want to gain the infamous “freshman 15,” here are 15 tips and experiences you do want to have by the end of your four years at Gdubz. (In no particular order)

1. Read The Hatchet

I know this may seem like a shameless self-promotion but I am convinced that in order to remain happy at GW, you should try to stay aware of what is going on around campus. The class of 2007 does not know a GW without printing fees, a central package facility or limited study abroad options – all changes implemented in the last year. If all of you keep updated on changes and take a stand on issues you care about, the University will listen. GW increased its price tag to close to $40,000 last year and four students protested on Kogan Plaza, yes only four. Take a look at the front page every week and stay on top of University moves – one of the things you do get with your tuition is a voice, use it.

2. Intern

Whether you head up to Capitol Hill, intern with the Washington Wizards or work for any other organization in the area, take advantage of your proximity to all the opportunities in the District. You will be far ahead of your counterparts at other schools and hopefully be able to get a first job that will help you pay back all these student loans.

3. Join a student organization

Between the Hawaii Club, the Ballroom Dance Society and the Poker Club, there is a spot for seemingly everyone. But if one of the 250 groups already available isn’t worth your time, start your own.

4. Attend a GW basketball game

I know they seem to disappoint us every year (Cubs and Red Sox fans know the feeling), but the men’s team is getting better and will be a contender soon. And go check out a women’s game, they make it to the tourney almost every year and their highlights make it on ESPN.

5. Head out to the museums, art galleries and concerts

Learn about the city and you will enjoy your time here.

6. Don’t hookup with people on your floor

There are a lot of possible hookups on other floors, in other buildings and other D.C. campuses and there is no need create a uncomfortable situation where you could end up in an elevator alone with that person later in the semester. The silent trip up to the ninth floor of Thurston will seem like it takes years.

7. Call your family

Don’t laugh yet. After a few weeks of doing your own laundry, cleaning your bathroom (those of you that actually do) and finding your own food, you will start to miss your family. Trust me. So at least give them a phone call once in a while on your cell phone and let them know that the GW bill is worth paying.

8. Buy tickets for the Step Show

Head to the exciting February dance show that showcases some of the best moves you will see all year.

9. Participate in rush

While the thought of participating in a fraternity or sorority may seem nauseating to some of you, I encourage you to at least check out the scene in the fall. While the Greek-letter world is not for most people (GW is about 18 percent Greek), its worth at least meeting some groups and seeing what it is all about. If for anything else, go for all the free food they give you. Note: does not apply to sororities.

10. Check out a protest

While you may not agree with the issue or know anything about what people are demonstrating against, go and check out a couple protests during your time. While they are not as violent or big as in past years, its still fun and educational to watch Vietnam-era protestors continue to come back and demonstrate.

11. Buy a cell phone

It will seem like an essential tool at this University. Imagine its Saturday night, your roommates are gone and everyone has an away message up. Plus, the University phone system long distance rates are ridiculously expensive and cell phone packages have gotten really cheap.

12. Volunteer

I know volunteering may seem like a big time commitment. But there are lot of people in the district who are not as fortunate as us GW students and it only takes a few hours to show someone you care.

13. Get out of D.C.

Too much of one thing is not good for anyone and its good to get out of the District and travel. Drive an hour west or south of here and it’s a whole different world. Also, look into studying abroad and immersing yourself in a different culture. It will be one of the most valuable experiences during your four years.

14. Seek guidance

While some of your professors will not make an impact on you, you will be hard pressed to find a student who hasn’t had a close relationship with at least one faculty member. Seek the help of a professor or professional at your internship. They will help you narrow down the list of thousands of career options and figure out how to traverse the landscape of the real world.

15. Relax and take things slowly

It’s very easy to become caught up in the horse race mentality of this city, but I encourage you to take a step back and not to feel like someone is timing you. Four years is a lot of time and you will learn a lot about yourself, but not if you are always in a rush.

If you are able to check off at least half the things on the list above, I guarantee you won’t have a boring four years. Welcome to GW and enjoy the best four years of your life.

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