Thursday, September 17, 2009

First day of school: advice for the freshmen from EW bloggers

Because we at Equal Writes know how disorienting, confusing and exciting the first day of college can be, we've compiled a few anecdotes and pieces from advice from our writers about their first year at Princeton. This will continue sporadically throughout the next week, as our writers have time, so please enjoy, and add your own insights in the comment section.

Feeling homesick?

It’s easy to feel lost when you first get to Princeton. Many of us (including myself) knew no one when we first came here, and many of us have never been so far from home for so long. But the thing about homesickness is this: you’re not the only one. For every time you feel uneasy, every time you wish you were at home with your friends and family, every time you wish you had someone here to talk to…there are a hundred other freshman here thinking the same thing. In the wise words of The Police, “Seems I’m not alone at being alone/A hundred billion castaways, all looking for a home.”

So I guess what I’m saying is, do your best to open yourself up to people. I had the amazing opportunity to move in a month before school started my freshman year because I played a varsity sport, and we were able to avoid a lot of that fear and discomfort just by being around each other so much. Ask your roommate about their family; sit with new people when you go to the dining hall; don’t underestimate the power of a simple conversation. And even if you’re not feeling homesick, you can bet that someone you know is. So do your best to pick each other up when you’re feeling down, and never lose sight of how lucky you are to be here.

What to do if you're feeling blue

So the first few weeks, Princeton will most likely be everything you dreamed of and more. And it is. But there might come a day when you may be sitting in a class or in your room, and suddenly thinking: What the hell am I doing? A lot of people here put on a front. But ask your close friends, and most likely, they haven't gotten everything figured out either. My suggestion is to figure out who you are first, and be ok with that person. In my experience, trying to “be” whatever you think you should be will drive you crazy and it will lead to an unhappy life. Depression is sometimes an issue, but don’t worry – it’s a normal reaction to a huge life change.

Put yourself first. Your mental health and your personal well being should be your top priority. If you know you are depressed - if things seem dull or you lost all your motivation or you're angry a lot - go to McCosh and talk to someone. Don’t worry about people seeing you, and after all, if they do – they’re there too! So, don't worry about people finding out. It feels better sometimes to talk it out and figure out what bothers you - maybe your parents pushed you too hard, maybe you have been role playing the A-student the whole time and now don't know who you really are, maybe you are getting too interested in partying and drugs, etc etc. It will take time though! Please, don't be naive and think it just goes away with 3 appointments. But it is totally better to get this “self-realization” thing out of the way now. And so many more people go through it than you think. You don't need to publicize it but don't hide it to the point you are hurting yourself. McCosh is available every day, 24-7. Psychologists are on call all night, so if you come home from the street and something felt wrong or you are thinking about hurting yourself, just walk into McCosh and things will get better! I believe you are never dealt more than you can handle and that things happen for a reason - embrace all experiences and know that you are smart, that you are at one of the top universities in the world, and that things will always get better when you believe they will.

More posts to follow on roommates, drinking, sex, classes, and stress - check back soon!

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