Welcome to UVA! The first thing to remember is you’re not a freshman, you are a first year. Coming to Grounds and starting the next step in your education can be different from what you’re used to, but these are some pro tips on making it a bit easier. Without any further ado, here are 14 things you need to know in your first year at UVA.
1. UVA Students Have a Lot of Pride
You will learn quickly that UVA students have an enormous amount of pride for our school and all of its traditions. From the fight song to streaking The Lawn to endlessly correcting people who call our home ‘campus’, we are all safe in the knowledge that our school is the best. It might take some time to feel like you fit in here, but the day you realize that you just mindlessly corrected someone who called you a freshman, is a proud day for us all.
2. Get Used to Facebook
Although Facebook isn’t always everyone’s go to social media, it has an endless number of uses. Between finding your roommate, cheap textbooks, someone to drive you to JMU this weekend, and possibly the name of that guy who sits next to you in Econ, Facebook is your friend.
3. Go to the Orientation Activities
We all know that orientation week at college tends to include a lot of cheesy activities that are nothing more than a way to force you to interact with others, so let them. Most first years will show up knowing a few people at most, so going out and meeting some other first years is probably a good idea. Some of the events are pretty fun, but if not at least find other people to complain about them with.
4. Stop Buying Spirit Wear at the Bookstore
Chances are as soon as you decided that you were going to UVA, you bought something at the bookstore. Am I right? Spirit Wear is awesome, but don’t bother buying anymore because somehow you will manage to accumulate 10 new shirts and at least 20 plastic cups by the end of first year. You’ll be packing to move out in May and looking at them all wondering ‘how on earth did I even get all of these?’
5. Life is More Than Grounds
Grounds is amazing, hence why we all decided to go to UVA, but there’s a lot more to do in Charlottesville than just what happens there. Did you know that Chris Jackson came to Charlottesville for a live Q&A about Hamilton in October? Well you would if you went to the Downtown Mall.
6. Plan Your Laundry Time Wisely
This is no joking matter when roughly 900 people are sharing the same 10 washing machines. Wednesday morning before class is a safe time to wash your clothes, but Saturday afternoons are more cutthroat than admissions to get in here.
7. Save Your Plus Dollars
Inevitably, it will not take long before you realize that dining hall food isn’t great and that the dumpling cart is probably magic, but don’t spend all your plus dollars at once! You’ll regret it come November when everyone else is feasting in West Range Café and you’re stuck at Newcomb.
8. Know Your Side in the Dorm War
New Dorms or Old Dorms? It’s a never-ending war about who really has it better and whichever dorm you’re in will likely decide where you stand. It may take some time for the temperature to cool down and your pride in the old dorms sans air conditioning to set in, but it will. Though, in the end we can all bond over living in teeny tiny rooms for first year.
If you’re a student at UVA, you probably did really well in high school and maybe you didn’t have to study that much. Reality check, this is not high school. Classes here are harder and if you want to do well, you’re going to have to study, so grab that book and settle into a library (We have 12). It might be a long night.
This may sound like a joke, but sleep is one of the absolute most important things in your life. Don’t be that person who thinks that they can go weeks on 3 hours a night, because one night your body will be so tired that you won’t wake up to your alarm the next morning and when you do arise you will find that you slept right through your French exam.
11. Don’t Panic About Next Year
There is a common misconception that you need to sign a lease to a house or apartment for second year in October or you won’t find anything close to the university, but this is completely untrue. As far as next year goes, focus on where you are now. Deal with things as they come and enjoy what you’re doing, no matter what that is.
12. Don’t Panic in General
School has a tendency to create a lot of stress in life, and that definitely doesn’t stop here, but try not to let it throw you into a panic. You will finish that essay, you probably didn’t actually fail that exam, and contrary to popular belief everything will be okay. Just relax and let yourself have a good time (GO HOOS).
13. It’s Okay to Miss Mom
It takes some time to get used to living away from your family, whether you are close to them or not. It’s completely valid to miss your parents and you’re definitely not alone in that feeling, so give your parents a call when you miss them most and you’ll feel better. Then go to the Rotunda to watch The Lawn streakers and you’ll forget all about mom and dad.
14. You Picked the Best One
No matter what events or decisions led to your admission and acceptance to UVA, everyone here is glad you picked us. This school has shaped the lives of scholars, presidents, Olympians and everyone in between for almost 200 years and we promise that it will leave the best possible impact on you. With all this in mind, Wahoowa, and see you in August!