Hi, class of 2010.
My name is Juliet. I could tell you my major, my school or my hometown, but you’ve probably heard enough of these introductions at Colonial Inauguration. Besides, if you were really interested, you could just stalk me on Facebook (tip from an all-knowing senior). I’ve been asked by the wise folks at The Hatchet to impart a few impressions of the first year at GW and to suggest a few morsels of advice. Here we go.
First, don’t be fooled by CI. School is not filled with catered lunches, gift bag giveaways and free shows, unless you land the sweetest internship ever. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your room, pecking away at your keyboard or plowing through hundreds of pages of reading.
Similarly, don’t be taken in by the first few weeks of school. CI and the start of the semester are the only times during your collegiate career that no tests or papers will loom. That said, enjoy this departure from reality! Go out, stay up late, eat crap food and play too many video games.
Also, be sure to get off campus – you’ll spend most of your time within the few city blocks GW occupies, so be sure to hop on the Metro and get out into D.C. early on, if only to rub it into your friends’ faces when you go home for Thanksgiving.
While you’re traipsing around this city and getting to know campus, remember to stay safe, in all meanings of the word. You’re going to find yourself in new situations. I don’t want to sound like your mother, so all I’ll say is this: always know where your wallet is, how much you’ve had to drink/smoke/snort/inject/lick and the last time your sexual partner was tested. There will certainly be mornings when you wake up hung over or confused, maybe out of cash and perhaps a little sore. But surrounding yourself with friends and setting limits early in the evening will save you some trouble.
The people you’ll be doing all of these stupid college things with are initially going to be your roommate(s) and/or the people on your floor. Don’t rely on them for your entire social life, because you will get sick of them. As for your roommate(s), expect relationships to evolve as the school year progresses. No matter how much you like someone or how spacious your room, you’re going to get sick of each other – especially around finals.
Moving on to academics (because that’s what we’re here to do, right?), I would suggest taking advantage of the add/drop period at the beginning of every semester. While you may always have one course that drives you a little crazy, you should never be completely miserable or uncomfortable in a class. As a freshman, there are so many requirements to fulfill that there is always another class you can be happy in.
Speaking of classes — go to them, dammit. And do your reading, too. Class becomes so much more interesting and worthwhile when you do. You’re only at college for a limited time, so make sure you’re squeezing out every last penny’s worth of your experience from your outrageous tuition.
Of course, you can never be in all of the places you want to be. The key to a successful freshman year is to find the balance that’s right for you. Balance between class time and down time, between little and no sleep, and between pleasantly buzzed and completely trashed. Expect to spend a lot of time feeling as if there isn’t enough time. There is always going to be a show you missed, a party you didn’t make or a class you slept through. Accept these situations and choose the activity (sometimes it really is sleep instead of class) that is most important to you.
I wish you the best of luck your first year at GW. Have a great rest of the summer and I’ll see you in the fall. Or on Facebook.
-The writer is a senior majoring in international affairs and political science. She is in the Elliott School of International affairs and hails from Medfield, Mass. Happy?