Only three short months ago I opened the trunk of my rusty blue Ford Escape and hauled my cherished belongings out of Getsch 119. A nearly-ripped trash bag carrying the weight of my school supplies, a half-used package of coffee grounds and a water gun. As I drove past a newly-empty West Lot and made my way to the highway, I realized I actually survived my first year on campus. Because of that, I’ve decided to pass down an abridged version of the wisdom I’ve gained.
Tip #1: Don’t be that person
In mid-April, I kickstarted a campus-wide search to find a criminal. My lemon lime Bubblr was stolen from the top shelf of the dorm fridge, and, despite my best efforts, I never figured out who truly stole my drink. Sure, I could’ve bought a new Bubblr, or, better yet, my own mini fridge. But that’s not the point. The point is: don’t be that person. Don’t leave your laundry in the washer all day, break the pool cues or leave the toilets unflushed. Even if none of your fellow residents see you committing heinous acts, God brings his judgment upon thee. Thou shalt honor communal spaces.
Tip #2: The Bethel Directory
If Bethel advertised the directory to prospective students, I think it would have as many students as the U of M. For a student like myself, it’s the Holy Grail. The Crystal Skull. The Ark of the Covenant. Any other artifact that Indiana Jones found. The directory allows you to search up other Bethel students and satisfy any curiosities you have about them. Need to make a groupchat for a group project? The directory will give you phone numbers. Need to make fun of your friend for how bad their ID photo turned out? You can save that image file from the directory. Have a crush on somebody in your Intro to Wellbeing class? Find their address and determine whether or not you would have to go long-distance over summer breaks.
Tip #3: FOMO and discomfort are normal
This may sound unbelievable, but people don’t solidify their “forever friends” over the span of Welcome Week. Or first semester. Or freshman year. Keep this in mind as you enter some of the most uncomfortable weeks of your life. The reality is, you are human and not a cat. You will not land on your feet (or paws?). You will stumble and feel awkward and think everybody is getting by better than you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and know that the discomfort is a passing feeling.
Tip #4: The interactive map
Okay, I lied. There is one forever friend you’ll make over the span of your first weeks, and its name is the Interactive Campus Map. When the Library of Alexandria burned down in 48 BC, I feel that this map was on one of the scrolls saved from the ashes. Now, it can be found on the Bethel website, and it will soothe any anxiety you have about finding your classrooms.
Tip #5: Start using Google Calendar
You’ve probably heard from movies and TV shows that college is a time of “self-discovery” or “reinvention.” Well, if you’re going to reinvent yourself, please make sure that this “new you” uses Google Calendar. It makes scheduling for group projects roughly one million times easier.
Tip #6: The Block B basics
I’m convinced that the Block B meal plan (which freshmen are forced to use) was created for hobbits. You could swipe into the DC for all of the Tolkien meals – breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper – and somehow manage to have leftover meals when the semester ends. So, be generous with your swipes. Offer to get meals with your Shift leaders or your RA, and swipe them in. Use the DC as a way to make connections on campus.
Look, I could go on for ages with more tips, but part of the fun is figuring it out for yourself. Without parental supervision or Sarah Bakeman holding your hand.
Best of luck,