Dear Wake Forest Freshman,
I'll admit it, since people rarely do: the summer leading up to my freshman year of college was probably the most anxious time of my life. After the frenzy of graduation season, I was left with the looming threat of leaving home. Of course, I was excited. But part of me was also terrified. I was about to leave a town where I knew everyone (too much about everyone, I may add) and start over in a place where I knew one. It was both nerve-racking and liberating. I imagined all the possibilities of how it could turn out amazing— and conversely, I was haunted by all the ways it could go wrong.
No matter how exciting leaving for college is, naturally, leaving home comes with a certain degree of sadness. If you're feeling nervous, anxious, slightly sad (like, listening to Ribs as you drive through your neighborhood, sad), know that you're not alone. In fact, feeling this way is normal. Everyone always seems to be talking about how excited they are for the fall, how they just can't wait to get out of here, how cool their roommate looks and how many people they've already met through Instagram. This buzz of excitement, however, masks the underlying nervousness everyone feels.
I was fortunate enough to enter my freshman fall pre-Corona— so I can only imagine your anxiety is greater than mine ever was. However, trust that even though it might take time, you will find your place at Wake. The future is uncertain, but let that excite you instead of terrify you. You have so many amazing people to meet. There are so many memories to be made. It sounds cheesy, but it's ultimately true. So, to ease your nerves, I've compiled a list of advice I wish someone had given me before my freshman year at Wake. I hope this wisdom eases your nerves, reminding you that you aren't alone.
- You don't have to find your best friends the first week. In fact, most people don't. I remember wrongly assuming that everyone had already made their friend groups after orientation. But, here's the catch: the groups formed the first week, even the first month, usually don't last. Instagram is deceitful. It may look like everyone is having a great time and that they've all found their best friends. Don't let this discourage you. Stay open to meeting new people throughout the first semester (and second semester!). You'll find your people. It doesn't have to happen overnight.
- Be nice to everyone you meet. No one is below you. You're not automatically cooler than anyone you meet. Conversely, no one has the right to act like they're better than you. Everyone is in the same position and just wants to make friends. The people that will become your best friends are the ones that are immediately kind to you. Stay friendly and positive towards everyone you meet— that's how you find the right people.
- Being homesick is natural. It's okay to call your Mom crying after an overwhelming day where everything and everyone is new. But no matter how sad you are, remember that the feeling will fade. And most importantly, try not to let homesickness stop you from getting out there and meeting new people. Eventually, you'll forget you ever felt homesick.
- Treat your old golds, well, like gold. Old golds are food swipes that you can use to get meals at places on campus like Chick-Fil-A, Moes, Starbucks, etc. I made the mistake of blowing them early on in the semester, not realizing their value. Be conscious of how you spend your food dollars— you'll thank me later.
- No, you don't need to buy an iced coffee every time you study at ZSR. Here with another valuable money saving tip (based solely on my own budgeting blunders): coffee costs add up! I'm always an advocate of "treating yourself." However, treating yourself to a $5 iced coffee every day quickly becomes an expensive, wallet draining habit. Staying conscious of these costs will prevent your bank account from reaching a low point (oops).
- Don't be afraid to join a club. I remember feeling too intimidated to get super involved on campus as a freshman. This feeling is natural, but the truth is this: upperclassmen actually want you to join their clubs. Not only are clubs great on a future resume, they also allow you to meet older students, who can become great resources. (P.S. Join our Odyssey team!)
- Allow yourself time to relax. College life is busy, filled with a never-ending cycle of academic and social commitments. Don't forget to set some time aside for yourself. Recharging and spending time engaging in self-care is a valuable habit to incorporate into your schedule. Put on your favorite face mask, drink some tea and press play on a Timotheé Chalamet movie.
As we move into the fall, I hope you carry these pieces of guidance with you. Cherish these last few weeks at home. Hug your childhood friends a little harder. Don't skip out on your parents for family dinner. There will be tears, but there will also be the butterflies of excitement as you move into your dorm. There will be the beauty of the magnolia trees on campus and the elation of meeting someone you automatically click with. There is so much good to come. Don't let the sadness and anxiety of the moment diminish that.