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Starting strong

1:45 PM  Sep 5th, 2014
by CC Hutten '15

After a bittersweet summer of last times and goodbyes, it’s finally here: your first year of college. You’ve got to find your place, make a new group of friends and begin planning for your future. But you’re not alone; you’ve got the entire UD community cheering you on.

Here are five ways to make your first year at UD the best it can be (from those who’ve been there).

1. Just do it. Throw caution to the wind, along with your social anxiety. “Talk to everyone,” says Alyssa Marynowski ’13. “If it doesn’t work out, try again next weekend.” Enjoy the thrill of exploring things you’ve never done before and dancing with the thought of meeting your best friends after one moment of social bravery. “You don’t know anyone, and there are thousands of people,” Marynowski says. “Be yourself. If someone doesn’t like it, one of the thousands of other people will.”

2. Embrace the community (bathrooms). As a first-year student at UD, chances are you will only live in a dorm for one year. Living in close quarters with your peers can be scary, and less than private, but you’ll definitely never be lonely. “It sounds cheesy, but keep your door open. Really,” Marynowski says. “I met one of my best friends of five years by popping my head into her room and telling her I liked her comforter.” So, embrace the closeness of your floor — open your door, say “hi” to a neighbor, plug in those portable iPod speakers and start up the shower karaoke. It will never be so easy to have a dance party in a bathroom ever again.

3. Eat. UD’s dining halls were rated No. 9 in the country, according to the Princeton Review. As a first-year, you live less than a block from the nearest dining hall. “Take advantage of that meal plan before you have to start cooking your own meals,” says senior electrical engineering major Matt Sprague ’15. Until then, swipe that FlyerCard and keep an eye out for open events with free food. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even end up loving the club that’s sponsoring it. “Get a calendar and mark every date that has an event with free food, and hang it on your fridge so everyone knows,” says Marynowski. The “freshman 15” is worth Marycrest’s pasta day and free Ben & Jerry’s.

4. Work hard, play hard. It’s really easy to get caught up in the college party scene, but staying focused on why you’re really here is the best decision you’ll make. “Find that balance,” says Marynowski. “I had a lot of fun, but I also got good grades and got involved. Find what motivates you; it will keep you in line.” Marynowski was a double major in English and public relations, and was president of Gamma Epsilon Lamba, a coed service fraternity, her senior year. You could also find her at the funniest theme parties with the best costumes. “Don’t be stupid. You can have fun and not ruin your life,” she says.

5. Don’t settle. UD offers endless opportunities, but here’s the catch: you have to go get them. “Do as much as you can, because freshman year is really the only year you have enough time,” Sprague says. “Don’t waste it.” Honors societies, campus recreation and more than 200 other organizations are just waiting for you to jump in. Attending Up the Orgs in Central Mall at the beginning of the year is a sure-fire way to find your niche. “Join a club,” Sprague says. “Because you might not be where you want to be going into your senior year as far as leadership goes, just because you messed around your first year.” If you do it right, which you probably will, you’ll want to go back and do it all over again.

Click HERE to watch a video of the 2014 Up the Orgs day.

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