September 7, 2011

And the Learning Begins!

Move-in Day? Check.
Orientation? Check.
First Day of Classes? Check.

SMC is wonderful! for it's been so much better than I could've imagined!

I've been at Saint Mike's for almost two weeks now and I'm unbelievably happy. It's really surprising how comfortable I feel. Honestly it seems like I've been here for at least a month. SO in all my collegiate wisdom, I thought that I would share everything that I've learned thus far in college.

1. Go on POW (or another optional orientation trip): When I received my 'New Student Guide' in April (the SMC handbook that all first year students receive) I saw the one page that was entirely dedicated to orientation trips, including POW, WOW, and Community Service Weekend. These trips are designed for incoming students who want to explore the school a little, get some logistical things (like language tests and registering for classes) out of the way before orientation, and talk to some upperclassmen. Originally I wasn't going to attend one of these weekends, but my mom convinced me to go on POW, and I'm so happy that I did. It made me SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE about coming to college! Plus I made a friend there (who I've been hanging out with since day one of orientation!) and it was cool to know a couple upperclassmen and fellow first year students already. More than anything else, you should go on one of these trips!

Check out my blog post on POW; here some link's to Gabbi's blog posts on POW, WOW, and SOAR.

2. Research SMC before orientation: I am a person who loves to know what I'm getting into. All of my friends know that I obsess over being prepared, and my overly full backpack proves that. So, of course, I researched Saint Mike's so much before applying, before sending in my deposit, and again before coming to orientation. I think this definitely made my transition smoother because a) I knew the general set-up of campus after studying the campus map so much, b) I knew about the classes I wanted/needed to take, c) I knew a lot of the rules/regulations/schedule for orientation, and d) I knew what organizations I was interested in joining once I got here. A great example of this is the fact that I became a blogger months before orientation, all because I did some digging! Don't be afraid to research like crazy!

3. Don't think that you're going to change: Now by change, I don't mean changing your image or anything like that. What happened to me is that I, the quiet but social girl from a small high school, thought that I would put myself out there so much more once orientation started. I had plans to introduce myself to everyone and make friends like crazy. BUT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Orientation is intimidating because NO ONE KNOWS EACH OTHER and it is AWKWARD. Don't be fooled! It is awkward, but in a good way. It's definitely easy to talk to other people because everyone wants to make friends. And from what I've seen, everyone has been slowly gravitating towards people like them. You won't change, but you will make friends. Which gets me to my next point...
4. You will make friends: Like I said, orientation is awkward, but I made friends from day one. It's hard to imagine that you could find friends in the craziness of orientation, but everyone I know has AT LEAST one or two friends. And once classes start, you'll meet even more people.
5. Orientation is fun: Orientation definitely scared me, and as I mentioned, it's awkward! But that doesn't mean it isn't fun! We played so many silly games and saw the orientation leaders make such fools of themselves (in a good way! - I mean crazy dancing and cheering and whistle blowing) it's hard not to love it. There's also lots of entertaining things, like a hypnotist show or a scavenger hunt. There's something for everyone during orientation.
6. Listen to your Orientation Leaders (or POW leaders): During both POW and orientation, my leaders were great. They're all picked as leaders because they are friendly and want to help you with your transition into college! They're ready to answer any questions you have, and lots of my leaders gave out their phone numbers - both for us to text em if we need help/have a question or if we just want to hang out. It took me a while to realize that these leaders truly want to help you out - after seeing them around and saying hi to them, I finally get that they're really there for us.
7. Dorms aren't so bad: On the first day of orientation, I got to sleep around 11:30 PM. I was exhausted and I fell asleep in minutes. The rooms are pretty good size-wise. I brought tons of stuff and it all fit. My roommate & I get along fine, and I don't know anyone who has a big problem with their roommate. My only advice is to my polite and respectful to your roommate. And inviting them along to dinner is always a great bonding idea. Also invite your floor to dinner! I did and we had some fun. Also, my floor hasn't been loud at all - I can always sleep or study without a problem. And the bathrooms aren't bad either! You get used to sharing them in a day or two.

8. Classes & Professors aren't scary: When orientation came to an end and it was time for classes to start, I got so incredibly nervous. I didn't know what to expect! But as I found on the first day of class, the professors are all SO NICE. You can tell already that they are all super kind, smart people who want you to succeed. Also, the homework that you receive the first week is a fairly easy load; it's not a hard transition into college-level work. Just remember to study!
9. Don't be afraid to talk to your professors: My first week of class I realized just how scary it is to raise your hand and contribute in class. I was very intimidated! Not only are you in college with super smart professors, but your classes have freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors in them. However, once you volunteer, it's not hard to keep it going. And you make a great impression on your professor! Also try to meet with your advisor ASAP. During the first week of classes I met with mine already, and I also talked to my temporary advisor from my summer registration day (during POW you spend one day on campus taking your language test and registering for classes; your temp. advisor helps you register). This also makes an impression on your advisor - it's great to get to know your advisor & other professors well because they will be great resources in the future.
10. Don't think that everyone in college parties: Since last weekend was the first weekend of the school year, I was sure that everyone would be out partying. But my friends and I (who choose to be substance-free) went to a free improv show instead. This show was sponsored by the 'Alcohol Task Force' which is an organization on campus that puts on events during the weekends for all the students who don't drink. The show was soooo funny and lots of kids were there! It was nice to see that we weren't alone; my friends and I also discussed how not drinking in high school sometimes made us feel insecure or like we were missing out. But going to the improv definitely confirmed my belief that I don't need to drink.

11. You need to put yourself out there (a little bit): In high school, I was a VERY dependant person. I didn't like to walk to the next class by myself, let alone meet new people or talk to teachers. But at Saint Mike's, I've already had to find my classes, talk to lots of new people, introduce myself to my professors, discuss things in class, and hunt down random people for help. It's hard for me to do this, but after talking to my advisor, who sent me to the registrar's office, who sent me to Professor Smith, who walked me to Professor Bennett, who had me email Professor Saks-Pavese all to find out how to get an advisor for my education major, I felt very accomplished. I also felt old (in the appropriate 'I'm eighteen and I'm fending for myself here at college' way).

12. Do things just because you can: Of course you can't fill up your entire schedule at school (although there's so much to do, I wish I could) because you have lots of studying to do. BUT I've already signed up for so much! I just went on a trip with MOVE (the community service group on campus) where I played with some kids at a local shelter, I'm going apple picking tomorrow, and I signed up for a rape defense course just because I thought it'd be cool to be able to kick some butt if I ever need to (not that I will at SMC - it's super safe; I feel fine walking home from the library at midnight). Also, my friend and I went to church last Friday and it was wonderful. It should be stated that, despite going to church at home and praying every night, I don't consider myself a particularly religious person (in fact, I really didn't like the 'Catholic school' aspect of Saint Michael's at first) BUT after going to church with my friend last Friday, we both fell in love. Since then we've both signed up to become lectors, are attending LINK, the faith sharing group that meets once a week as a part of VITA (campus ministry) and are joining the liturgical ensemble. I have the feeling that I am going to become much more religious in the next four years...
I apologize for this incredibly long post! But if you've been reading my blog, you've probably seen by now that I have a lot to say! I'm sure that I'll have even more to add to this post in the future, but for now I just want to let you all know that college will be great for you. I was, and still am, surprised by how happy college makes me. I think that if you come with an open mind and are ready to make friends, you won't have a problem fitting in and having a great time!
Send me a message on Twitter or Formspring if you're curious about anything! I love to answer questions!