A Month-by-Month Guide to Your Freshman Year of College: January
Okay, show of hands—who’s currently wearing all the socks they own? Everyone? Thought so. You know, back when we got on this rollercoaster ride of a series, I made some joke about leading you all through the Russian winter of your freshman year. Little did I know this would soon become our reality. Everyone is freezing; I don’t think we as a country have been this united since Beyoncé performed at the Super Bowl. To make matters worse, I fell on my butt crossing the icy street the other day in front of a bunch of people, and odds are one of them was a cute boy. But enough about my social life; let's get down to surviving January of your freshman year.
I probably should’ve mentioned in my last post that winter break goes by in about two seconds. Sorry. I didn’t want you to know! I just wanted you to be happy! I’m like Dumbledore, and all of you are Harry, and I want to shield you from the realities of life that are as harsh and unforgiving as the ice that froze my mailbox shut. IThe truth is, I cared about you too much. (And I really need to make up my mind as to whether I’m Napoleon or Dumbledore. Or Ellen DeGeneres. Sometimes I read her tweets and I feel like our hearts beat as one.)
In the spirit of that, I’m going to tell you more stuff you need to know. Unlike Dumbledore, I'm not going to leave out crucial details and just let Snape handle it later. (Seriously, though, is there anyone in all of the Wizarding world short of Voldemort himself who could’ve been a worse choice for this job than Snape? If you had to die, would you want Snape to be the one to tell you? Discuss.) Anyway...
The people you hung out with first semester won’t be the people you hang out with second semester. You deserve to know. A lot of the time, friendships fall apart when you’re not seeing each other every day and bonding over your mutual failure to understand what's happening.
"Get to know each other" exercises will rear their ugly head. You probably thought those were just your professor’s way of saying, "Welcome to your first semester of college. I’m going to try and facilitate some friendships here because you confused friendless loners sure look like you could use some," but no. I'm here to tell you that there’s at least one professor every semester who feels the need to go around the room and have everyone say their name, their major, their hometown, and "one fun fact about yourself," which is a veritable heart attack just waiting to happen. I'm also here to tell you that that is what Hell is, just one agonizing Name Game after another for all of eternity. One time in a literature class I made my "fun fact" a bold-faced lie. I was the second person called upon and promptly forgot everything about myself, so I made one up. I stand by what I did. I think we should all just be grateful I didn’t do something weirder, because I’ve been known to do weird things under pressure, and impromptu interpretative dancing with no explanation is one of them.
The Freshman 15 does not exist. This seems to be more prevalent a topic of conversation during the winter months, probably because outside is a certain snowy doom and we’re all hibernating and our happiness is directly proportional to whether or not Netflix is connecting. I’m not saying just lounge around all day and devote yourself to a life of eating and gluttony, but of all the things you’re stressing over, the "Freshman 15" doesn't need to be one of them.
First Semester You was probably frantic and always running to places. Second Semester You will be, by comparison, like a grizzled war veteran who’s seen it all before and says things like, "This isn’t my first rodeo, bucko." Instead of obsessively memorizing your schedule, you will find yourself thinking the night before classes start, "I should probably check what I signed up for." Instead of finding all your classes in advance, you’ll wander around at the last minute, and you’ll be going, "Well I thought I knew where this was," with an unbothered shrug. As thrilled as I am that you’re no longer frantic and twitchy, I don’t recommend giving yourself over completely to that second semester persona. Try to blend the promptness of First Semester You with the carefree I-kick-doors-down-for-fun confidence of Second Semester You to form one kickass Super Person.
Second semester blues are a thing. You no longer have this new shiny thing called college. Instead you have this annoying used Kleenex of a thing called college. Classes, stress, maybe even a roommate that’s starting to get on your nerves—it all looks even bleaker coming off a solid month at home. And it sucks.
But being a SECOND SEMESTER CHAMPION is also a thing. Not as catchy a thing, I’ll grant you, but still. Second semester is kicking off, and it’s a NEW BEGINNING. You’re in brand spanking new classes. You’re starting fresh, and this time you’ll actually read the textbook. You can get a new NAME, if that tickles your fancy. A guy I knew once spent the whole semester going by the name "Cool Whip" for no reason other than the professor asked if he had a nickname during roll call the first day and he made a really fantastic spur-of-the-moment decision. You’re on the precipice of meeting a bunch of new people. It’s exciting! Maybe one of them is your future best friend. Maybe one of them is your future mortal enemy. Maybe you’re going to make out with one of them at some point. Who knows? You won’t, at any rate—not until you start a conversation and say something like, "Is your T-shirt a combination of Breaking Bad and Calvin and Hobbes, because that is amazing," and commence shouting excitedly. (I'm told this is how you meet people. It is, isn't it?)
I believe in you, Sparkfroshmen. I believe in you 100%. There's a difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death, and walking into the arena with your head held high. And that is a Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince quote, furthering my belief that I really am Dumbledore with some Napoleonic qualities, with just a dash of Ellen and possibly Beyoncé. (That's my Super Person. Take that, second semester.)
Are you buried under 9 blankets in your dorm room right now? Should we send hot cocoa and a portable fireplace?