To all the incoming freshman at App State (and transfer students):

Welcome home. Living in a new place can be terrifying, and a new experience, especially a big one like college, can be overwhelming. But I want you to know that you're home. It might not seem like it yet, but over the next four years this place will stop being a huge college campus and turn into a homey place of friends and family. When I moved here two years ago, I had no idea how much of an impact App State and the Boone community would have in my life. Now, entering my junior year, I’ve come to realize that I may never be able to leave. I hope the same happens for you. As a welcome present, here are some things I’ve learned that you need to know about App State and Boone.

1. Think local.

Boone is a very local-focused community. And living here means you’re going to be influenced by that. Get out and explore, don’t just stay on campus. The Greenway, the farmers market, the shops on King Street—this place is your home now. Even if you’re living on campus, you’re still part of the Boone community, and it’s a real gem. Don’t miss it.

2. Invest in a pair of Chacos and Birkenstocks.

If you don’t own a pair already, you must have lied on your application because I don’t know how you got in to App without them. Chaco tan lines are a sign of your Boone residency.

3. Also, buy an Eno.

Eno’s are the best way to relax on App’s campus. I know, I know, they’re not super cheap, but they’re worth every cent.

4. The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful places on this Earth.

If you do not explore it every chance you get, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

5. It’s Espresso News, never ENews.

It’s located on Howards Street and has the best coffee in town. Their iced dirty chai is phenomenal and one of my favorite study break pick-me-ups. They serve one soup every day and a variety of scones and muffins and cookies, but there’s no real system to their menu. I have yet to try something I haven’t liked, even if it has sounded very odd—and most of it does.

6. Don’t bother shaving.

No one else does.

7. Get fruity.

Cascades has good smoothies, but if you want more flavor and whipped cream, go to Crossroads (student union) or the Wired Scholar (library).

8. SafeRide isn’t that safe.

I was once packed into a 12 passenger van with 15 people. Two people were riding in the floor. But if you need to get across campus late at night, it’s a handy service. Just be prepared to wait. I usually just called my mom or a friend while I walked across campus alone after midnight. And all the times I did do that, I never once felt unsafe. Campus is well lit and patrolled by the campus police at night, but as long as you’re smart, there’s no need to worry about taking the walk if you don’t want to wait for a crammed van.

9. Anne Belk is a maze.

Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to find your classroom if you’re in Belk. It’s not just you; the room numbers really don’t make any logical sense.

10. It’s Central, not Roess.

Never call it Roess. No one (including the people who work there) will know what you’re talking about.

11. Sanford is the setting for a horror movie.

Don’t use the elevator because it might (as in, almost definitely will) trap you. There are no vending machines, and the water fountains are hidden, so bring your own food and beverage. Also, bring both a parka and a personal fan. The building does not have A/C, so it can be sweltering, especially in the winter months, when the heat is set 10 degrees too high. However, some rooms have A/C window units and rotating fans, which is nice…until it’s snowing and the heat still hasn’t been turned on and those window units are still turned to full blast. Hello, icicle fingers.

12. East Hall is haunted.

Don’t worry, the ghost(s) aren’t malicious. Yet. As long as you don’t mind slamming doors and randomly knocked over/rearranged objects, you’ll be fine.

13. Macado’s cinnamon rolls will change your life.

They sell them individually wrapped or you can sit down and eat one fresh. The first time I tried a Cinnamon Sensation (a fresh, hot, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon roll with a heaping serving of vanilla ice cream), I cried tears of joy. No joke.

14. Slacklining happens every sunny day on Sanford Mall.

They make it look incredibly easy. It isn’t. And it’s dangerous. Be careful. I’ve watched many a poor soul land with a very tight rope in a very inconvenient spot.

15. Keep your door open

Make friends on your hall. Don’t go home every weekend. Weekends, especially freshman year, are a great opportunity to spend free time making memories and new friends. After freshman year, it will get more and more difficult to find free time as your classes get harder, and you’ll start taking on more responsibilities (maybe) like a job. Make connections, because these are people you’re going to be spending the next four years with.

16. Know your professors’ skip policies and use those skips wisely.

Don’t waste them. Those things are precious.

17. Appalachian Cooke Company is a wonderful resource for deliciousness.

They’re open until 3 am and deliver on campus. There is an eight dollar minimum for deliveries, but the heavenly goodness is worth it, trust me. They even have a Ron Swanson flavored cookie. What more could you want?

18. Get plugged in.

Find a club, organization, church home. Sometimes, you may not click with the people on your floor and that’s okay. But you will always need a church home, no matter how well you get along with the people you’re living with. I’ve found my home with Alliance Bible Fellowship and their college ministry, College Connection. This is my shameless plug, but they’re the best. We’re weird and slightly crazy, but genuine, welcoming, funny people who love God and others so well. We meet Sunday nights at seven at Alliance, which is a church about sevenish minutes from campus. Rides from the traffic circle at Trivette happen starting at 6:45. And we’re not the only campus ministry. Try them all. Find what works for you, find where you fit. Just find something, make connections and keep yourself strong in the Lord. A healthy relationship with him makes everything crazy in your life so much easier to handle.

19. Stay up late, have fun, make friends, memories etc., but be responsible.

You’re living on your own now and that means a lot of freedom. Use that freedom wisely. Take care of yourself. Eat. Sleep. Get alone time. Study hard. And have fun. Yes, college is about learning and pursuing your future, but it’s also a wonderful time of adventure. So adventure…just do it wisely, because these four years, whether they’re good or bad, will change you forever.