5 Things I Learned My Freshman Year of College

INDEPENDENCE: there can be too much of a good thing

The biggest change would have to be the sudden increase in independence. The idea that with every meal swipe you have access to unlimited desserts and soda can be overwhelming at first. Usually in the beginning of the year, it’s especially hard to resist stuffing your face when your parents can no longer yell at you for eating ice cream for dinner. You also no longer have a bed time, or a set time you have to wake up at, since deciding if you’re going to class and when you’re going to class is completely your own decision. I’ve learned to never leave any assignment so last-minute that I have to pull an all-nighter, but I have a feeling I’m not quite done with those yet. But as crazy as things seem at the beginning of your first semester, things tend to settle down as the year comes to a close.

Finding what you like and what you don’t like

For your first year of college I would say the best thing is to get involved in everything you find interesting, because as the year goes by you can always drop what you don’t like and become more involved in the things you’re more interested in. I think sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re interested in and deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life can be difficult, so taking part in clubs and even just events around campus can open your eyes.

Bad Grades are Just a Part of Life

For me, I was very surprised by the whole basis behind the grading system and how most of my grade was the result of two or three exams. We had quarterlies in high school and the final grade was the cumulative of a year of tests, quizzes, and homework, so this new system was a little hard for me to get used to, and I got some grades my first year that I was not used to seeing. I think the biggest thing to remember is that the only thing you can do in the face of a bad grade is to just keep working to do better the next time, and to treat every semester as a fresh start, a new you, and a way to improve your study habits. See what worked the last time and what didn’t work, and make adjustments accordingly.

Friends are everywhere

In college, you tend to make friends in the weirdest places. I have made friends in the bathroom of my hall. Other friends, I’ve met while getting off at the wrong bus stop and wandering around trying to find my class. Others I’ve met while loudly complaining about a class only to have someone come over and say “same”. The truth is almost everyone is always trying to find new people and make new friends: all you have to do is open your eyes because potential friends are always milling around.

High school is ALL in the past

At first,  I was worried that I wouldn’t get my fresh start because there were so many people from New Jersey and specifically, my high school, at Rutgers. But one thing I realized was that everyone comes into college with the same mindset and that everyone wants their fresh start. There are also around 30,000 undergraduates at Rutgers, so meeting new people is not an issue. So don’t worry about any remaining high school awkwardness or seeing the same people. Be the person you’ve always wanted to be!

 

My Very First Dance Marathon

Two weeks ago, I got to experience my very first Rutgers Dance Marathon as a member of the Brett Hall team. I had heard a lot of people say it was the highlight of their college experience and that it was something every Rutgers student had to experience, so of course, I was excited. The event itself was nothing like I expected though, it was one of those moments where I saw Rutgers in a whole new light.

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The Unity

The line dance was one of my favorite parts, people came from the basketball courts, the food stations, and the arts and crafts section just to learn a dance. There were some people who were amazing dancers and others who seemed to struggle a lot with some of the most basic steps, but everyone had fun. Here I saw frat brothers, sorority sisters, sports teams, and residence halls all come together in the spirit of giving, and I was amazed by the level of excitement and involvement. It was a shock to me, especially when compared to a lot of high school events where there was always a palpable awkwardness to just let go and dance due to a fear of judgment. At Dance Marathon, no one cared because everyone was there to have fun and of course for the kids (#ftk).

The Pep

I knew a lot of friends who were obligated to do Dance Marathon due to their respective organizations so I was expecting a few reluctant faces or some people not caring and sitting on the ground, but nope — not one person looked like they didn’t want to be there. The football team showed off their rehearsed choreography, the girls swim team showed off their gymnastics, the acapella team showed off their vocals. It was amazing to see the abundance of talent at Rutgers.

This was a level of school spirit I had never witnessed before in my entire life, even at the RU vs Penn State game, I did not see people express so much pride. People took whatever color team they were a part of and took it to a whole new level. Shreya Sethi, another member of the Brett Hall team said, “I liked how committed everyone was to the cause and how they really wanted to be there for the kids.” And people really were committed: they wore tutus, and ribbons and bandanas, (and bananas) and the color war events themselves were creative and brought out the healthy competition in all of us. I personally got to participate in hungry hungry hippos game which was a LOT of fun and probably one of the highlights of my night.

The Emotions

For a lot of people, seeing the families, especially the video towards the end of the night, served as a true reminder of why we had all gathered together for 24 hours and danced so long. Hearing the stories of the families whose lives had been changed for the better due to Embrace Kids, and Rutgers donations made me feel a pride for this college. Nishita Patel, a member of the Brett hall team who also experienced her very first dance Marathon this year said, “My favorite part was the family hour because it allowed us to see how appreciative the families were and how much they loved the event. I will definitely be doing it again next year.”
When the seniors came on to the stage and teared up as they spoke of their experiences with the Dance Marathon I felt myself becoming emotional as well because of how passionate they were about the event and how upset they were that it was their last one as a Rutgers University student.
The most defining moment was at the very end of the closing ceremony, as one by one the numbers were held up, and the exact moment that everyone realized that this year the number was going to surpass 1 million dollars the crowd roared, people started cheering, and screaming, and crying, and as the confetti dispersed through the stadium, my heart beamed with pride, and I realized I have never been prouder to be a Scarlet Knight.

5 Things You’ll Only Find At the Honors Program Formal

1. A Button Making Station
Often times, a lot of Rutgers events will have dorky little arts and crafts type activities for people to do that no one usually ever does. At this event it seemed to be the button making station, or so everyone thought. At the formal, however, there was a long line of students all equally giddy to make buttons.

2. Guy in the horse head
During the dance, a random guy showed up on the dance floor wearing a horse head and had some pretty awesome dance moves. He definitely made the night a lot more interesting.

3. A whole new environment
The honors kids that you have seen hiding behind books at the library, staring at their laptops, and furiously entering numbers on their calculator all finally came out of their shell. I saw the people usually in Rutgers sweats and t-shirts with perfectly contoured cheekbones and crisply ironed dress shirts, all showing off their amazing dance moves.

4. Good Food
I’m not saying that the dining hall doesn’t have great food ;), but the food at the Heldrich was extraordinary. There were 3 types of dessert and all of them were amazing.

5. Dancing Deans
I think the best part was watching the Honors Deans bust a move. They all seemed so genuinely into it and were having a great time. They were also sweet enough to spare time to take cute Polaroids of us.

All in all, it was a classy event with some great food, great music, and great people. If you couldn’t make it this year I highly recommend you check it out next year!