When you check the Campus Times website, you are met with dozens of senior introspective pieces, but not a single one about first-years! So I, as a first-year, thought it would be cool to share the opinions and voices of our class for a change. After all, we know best.

I went around and surveyed over 50 first-years to see what they thought of the University so far. I asked what forms of culture shock students experienced, what they’ve learned over the course of the past couple months, and what they wish they knew from the get-go — which, since none of us knew that student articles on the UR Admissions Blog existed, was a lot. 

We did not come into university expecting the dining halls to all be closed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. We never knew the necessity of wearing shower shoes and how strange it is if you don’t. (It’s terrifying how a guy in my dorm doesn’t wear them. Is he not afraid of roach poo or Sue B. fungus?)

We never knew about the disgusting, muggy heat in the beginning of the semester or about Danforth being closed on the weekends or the maze that is Rush Rhees. We didn’t know how much we’d miss home.

The responses I got from other first-years were diverse:

“Dude, I didn’t come to campus before move-in… and I live two and a half hours away. I didn’t know this was a STEM school… really a shot in the dark,” Addie Jareo said.

“People just openly shotgun energy drinks in the middle of the library […] Everyone here has a caffeine addiction,” Ava Memmelaar said.

But after over a month, some of us think we’ve got it all figured out! And you first-years (or upperclassmen, I’m not here to judge) who feel like they haven’t quite gotten the hang of things yet, your peers have some advice for you!

For those worried about making friends, everyone’s in the same boat. Those surveyed highlighted reaching out to strangers, using your free time to hang out in a lounge and meet people, and joining clubs as good ways to get involved. Your first friend group is not the end-all be-all, and you don’t have to be friends with everyone. Just put yourself out there.”

First-years who are worried about your classes — I’ve got you covered. When asked to share advice, at least 15 of us insisted on the importance of just attending. In particular, Alice Weaver’s practical truth — “you tell yourself you’ll watch the lecture later and you never will” — and Emily English’s advocating to go to lecture “so your money doesn’t go to waste” might just be the motivation you need to roll out of bed for your 9 a.m..

Everyone had something to say, but I think that the winner for the most niche piece of advice must go to Chloe Pernía, who tells me, “DON’T SLEEP WITH SOMEONE AFTER A WEEK EVEN IF THEY TELL YOU THEY WANT A RELATIONSHIP!” I don’t know how applicable that one is to the general public, but I’m sure someone out there needs to hear it.

On a more serious note, we first-years have some wants and needs from administration and ideas to improve campus life. Maya Scotkin begs “please put doors on the showers!! It’s very awkward to shower in a coed bathroom with only a thin curtain!”  Zoe Matias notes that facilities “never took out the third bed (I’m in a double).”

Addie Jareo is begging someone to “CLEAN THOSE NASTY CARPETS!”

Matthew Repetskyi suggests we switch to “chip cards instead of swipes.”

And I couldn’t even give you the number of people who asked for air conditioning in dorms other than Genesee Hall or better lighting, but I think that that would go under “wants.”

However, Alice Weaver pointed out how “it seems like more of the issues are fundamental so there’s not really a quick fix.”

At the end of the day, we first-years still have a lot to learn, but I hope that you’ve found our perspective interesting. Also, please remember to clean your water bottle every now and again.

Editor’s Note: All uses of the term “freshman” in this article were changed to “first-year” on Oct. 24, 2023 in accordance with Associated Press style. The URL was also changed accordingly.

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