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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

First-years get to experience bright and shiny new school

Published: August 22, 2014
Section: Opinions

Last year, I was a first-year, and last year, I couldn’t tell you which building was which. It also didn’t help that there are about 10 buildings named Shapiro. Nevertheless, and this is speaking from experience, you will figure it out. Before you know it, the campus will feel small and, ideally, even like home.

Apart from learning my way around, a lot happened my first year. Looking back on it, I am kind of astounded that it was such a short time ago. It all started with orientation. I tried to go to as many events as possible. I felt that all of those reasons why I chose to be on this campus resurfaced when I heard upperclassmen’s stories, Jamele Adams speak, and so much more. Orientation is where it starts, but it’s far from the end.

Before you know it, you’re taking your first college classes. Don’t be intimidated or nervous. You got into this school for a reason. So even if you stumble or find yourself in a class that doesn’t quite suit you, remember this is your first year and you’ll figure it out. Nothing is set in stone, and you are definitely allowed to change your mind. However, classes are only a fraction of the total Brandeis experience.

You’ll get a chance to explore all the activities the university has to offer, and there are a lot of them. From horse-back riding to rowing to boxing to skydiving, I’m pretty sure Brandeis has it all. And if they don’t have that one particular thing you are interested in, you can make it happen and start a club for it. Either way, I strongly recommend you get involved, because, otherwise, you are going to regret it. No one tells old college stories about making study guides and studying (Even though that definitely is a part of the college experience). When we look back on these days at Brandeis, we are going to look back at the other things we did. I’m going to look back on that beautiful October day that I decided to jump out of plane strapped to a stranger. I’m going to look back at the day when a sorority girl punched me in the face during a boxing class, and I’m going to look back on the days when I met some amazing friends.

I hope 10 years from now, you will all look back at your first year of college fondly. But keep in mind that its not all sugarplums and gum drops. You’re going to work hard, sometimes harder than other times, you’re going to stress about one thing or the other, and you may have a few unsavory experiences. I just hope you remember this: No matter what happens, it will be okay. Things happen, but you can move on. You’ll live even if in that moment it doesn’t feel like it. What I did when I was facing trouble was take a step back and keep everything in perspective. Finals? It’s one week of my life and even though it feels like a personal attack on my sanity, in one week, it’ll be a part of my past. Bad grades? Okay, maybe I have to try going about this a different way or think of changing my major because this isn’t for me.

Freshman year is not all fun and games, but it can be a lot of good times. It’s all up to you. Everything from the food you eat to the people you spend time with is your choice. Choose well, and please, appreciate it. Because, in spite of the bad, my first year was incredible, and I think I came out a better version of myself at the end of it. Take in the whole experience, the bad and the good, because these days are precious and few.

When I walked on campus last August, everything was bright, shiny and new. There were a million adventures, endless possibilities and countless choices waiting for me. This fall, those adventures, possibilities and choices are still vast but just a little less, and worst of all (and despite the construction going on campus), everything isn’t bright, shiny, and new.