I was recently talking to one of my friends who is a class advisor at SOAR, the orientation for freshmen and transfer students at UW-Madison. She told me how some of her students had asked where the parties were that night. Freshmen--- please do not ask your advisors about partying and going out because even if they were allowed to tell you that, they wouldn't want to.
Many things you will have to learn for yourself, but the following lists 23 things that you should know that they don't tell you at SOAR.
1. Move-in week is one of the best weeks of freshman year
You have a couple days to meet people on your floor, find your classes on campus, and not have to worry about schoolwork yet! Plus, you'll likely be going to your first football game the following weekend. Literally one of the best weeks of your college experience.
2. Buy season tickets for sports events
Sports at Wisconsin are a big deal. We're BIG10. Football is by far the most popular sport and the most fun one to attend games for. Tailgates are held all over the city at houses, frats, apartments, and parking lots. The streets are a sea of red and the energy when you get into the stadium is a feeling that you will remember for the rest of your life. Please, don't be that freshman who gets arrested at their first-- or any-- game. Drink Wisconsinbly. Basketball is fun when the games are against good teams and intense, but honestly hockey games are super fun no matter who the other team is or how close the game is!
3. Download the Venmo app
Don't have money on you but want Ian's pizza? Have your friend buy you some and you can instantly Venmo them money from your bank account. Uber rides, alcohol runs, food delivery, etc. It's almost as necessary as your WISCard. The app is free and you don't necessarily need to connect a debit or credit card to use it, but you can easily connect one as well. https://media.giphy.com/media/l0Ex2IXvwrzKC0MTe/giphy.gif
4. Download the Uber and Lyft apps
There's no way you're walking a mile from your dorm to Langdon Street in below-zero temperature or in the rain. Uber or Lyft. It's helpful to have both apps because sometimes one is cheaper than the other. Also, if you pay for the ride for you and your friends, they can Venmo you a part of the cost.
5. While you're at it, download UberEats and EatStreet too
Studying? Tired from class? Hungover? Lazy? Don't know what to eat? For little to no delivery fee, you can get food delivered right to your dorm. You will want it, trust me. Also-- EatStreet was founded by former UW-Madison students so support the community!
6. Stock up on tissues
Chances are you'll get sick within the first month of college. There are so many people around you in classes and the dorms, so it's pretty much inevitable. Get the tissues with the built-in lotion to avoid a red, painful nose. Also, you'll most likely have an emotional breakdown during midterms seasons so tissues are helpful for that as well.
7. Find a good place to cry
Speaking of emotional breakdowns, you'll cry a decent amount of times your first year for various reasons. Most likely as a freshman you'll be living in a dorm with a roommate. Sometimes you just need a good cry alone, but if your roommate's there it may be hard to kick them out. The go-to option is probably a bathroom or a close friend's room.
8. Naps-- take all of them
I promise you, after-class naps in your twin-size dorm bed will be the best naps of your life.
9. Try to get a job on campus
There are a lot of campus jobs that pay really well and it's nice to only have to work 10-12 hours a week and see that bank account go up!
11. Working out is hard
Ogg is a dorm in the Southeast area and its first floor was turned into a fitness center while the new gym is being constructed. So yes, it's literally a make-shift gym in a used-to-be lounge for the whole southeast campus. Its always packed-- I'm talking lines-for-the-treadmills packed. The other gyms are the Shell, by Camp Randall, and the Natatorium in the Lakeshore area. The Nat is a trek from the southeast dorms but the 80 bus will take you there and back for free!
12. It's okay to not know
It's okay to not know the question to an answer in class. It's okay to not know what you want to major in. It's okay to not know what you want to do in your future. It's okay to not know if you want to be single or hookup or date. During your freshman year you will have to start figuring out a lot, but trust the process and don't expect to know everything about your life right away.
13. Don't rush trying to find someone
LISTEN- most freshmen boys do not want to date. They're at a big school with unlimited access to new girls and being tied down to one girl just doesn't sound like 'the move' at all. Have fun, be yourself, and focus on meeting the best friends who will last a lifetime. If you find a good guy to date in the process, great!
14. Eating healthy is hard
When you go home for break, you will CRAVE home cooked meals and food that doesn't come from a box or a can. The good news is that as healthy eating becomes a bigger trend in the US, UW-Madison has started offering more healthy alternatives on campus. They even have started selling fresh fruit in campus market stores so that you can use your WISCard which is where your meal plan funds are located. Besides all that, it's SUPER easy to reach for the biggest box of Goldfish or family-size pack of double-stuffed Oreos when you're hungry. Don't. Go grocery shopping if you can and try to avoid that Freshman 15.
15. Buy snacks and drinks from Flamingo Run with your WISCard
Buying food and drinks on your WIScard feels like spending Monopoly money. It's better than running to Walgreens or Fresh (the campus' main grocery store) where you have to spend ~real~ money.
16. The D1 athletes probably don't want to actually date you
Sorry, not sorry. I know a handful of girls who have had "things" with athletes and chances are you're not the only girl he's seeing and he's too busy to commit to anything more than a couple of nights a week, if even.
17. Try not to spend all your time watching Netflix in bed
It's so tempting, but just don't. If you don't have homework, then study. It's okay to take breaks but you'll regret spending more than a couple of hours during your day watching Netflix.
18. Yes UW is a big party school, but parties can be hard to find so make connections
Honestly, you don't truly realize what being a freshman is like until it's 10pm, you already did your hair and makeup, you have on a cute outfit, your dorm pregame buzz is wearing off, and you can't find or get into any parties. Walking back to your dorm party-less is the ultimate walk of shame. The more friends you make, the easier it is to find places to party.
19. You may want to invest in a second form of identification ... *wink wink*
Bars are a big deal in Madison. Sconnie and Brats are your best bet to get in. Thursdays are the best nights to go out and get the best deals! Don't even try Red Rock or Whiskey's because they will take your ID.
20. No one cares if you don't drink or go out or smoke
Don't feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing. You can go out and not drink and still have fun. You can stay in, watch movies, and still enjoy your night. If you meet good friends, they will support whatever you choose to do or not do.
21. Don't use alcohol as a crutch
There will be times when you will be the most stressed you've ever been in your life so far. Go for a run, workout, listen to music, talk to friends, watch Netflix.. whatever it takes that isn't alcohol. It might seem like a good idea to drink away your problems but it only leaves you feeling worse off.
22. Should you join a fraternity or sorority?
The biggest factor for me in whether or not to join a sorority was the cost. Being in the top sororities costs over a thousand dollars just for one year. In addition, you have to pay for themed-party outfits, sorority apparel, and big/little gifts. Sororities have a lot of events throughout the year that you are always expected to go to. On the pro side, you meet so many great friends, go to date parties with other fraternities, and attend fancy formals!
Seeing as though I'm a girl I don't have much inside on fraternities. When you first join a fraternity you are a pledge for the whole semester, and I'm not going to lie-- it's rough. You will be at the beck and call of the initiated members at all hours of the day. The biggest pro is that the brotherhood in fraternities is really strong so you have a bunch of solid friends. In addition, fraternities often throw parties and have a fall and spring formal!
Sororities and fraternities also organize fun events for the school community to participate in to raise money for charity. There is also Humorology. Each sorority and fraternity creates a show in which they dress up, act, sing, dance, and compete against the other groups!
23. Everyone considers dropping out more than once
Failed your midterm exam? Stressed beyond the max? Have absolutely no clue what you want to do in life? Yeah, it happens. You will even go as far as considering jobs that you can make enough money in that don't require a college degree. Stripper...
And if you do seriously want to drop out, that is okay. Your life isn't over. Take a gap semester, gap year, transfer to a new school, whatever. It's your life, and there is no concrete plan that you have to follow in order to live a happy and successful life.
Madison is rated the #1 best college town for a reason. These will be four of the best years of your life. UW-Madison is an amazing school and Madison is an even more amazing city. Enjoy your time here, have fun, meet new people, find yourself.