10 Freshman Firsts

Being a new student is a weird and sometimes scary experience, even if you’re one of over 1,200 new students. And now, only seven weeks into my first semester, I’ve experienced a lot of new things.

  1. The Penny: While most if not all universities have an honor code students are required to sign, Christopher Newport takes it a step further by giving us a memento to remember it by. All of the freshman class stood together at Convocation (for the first and last time until graduation!) and received a brand new penny. We were told to keep it with us, and to be reminded of the honor code it stood for each time we saw it. On graduation day, we will get to throw it into a fountain as we gather with the rest of our class for the second and final time in our whole college career.
  2. Ringing the bell: Part of our beautiful campus is the striking clock tower with a bell that rings every hour on the dot. After convocation, we were allowed the chance to ring it ourselves. This was another traditional first, along with another last until the day we graduate.
  3. Freshman dessert with P-Trib: Yet another first and last until senior year, the freshman class was invited to have dessert with President Trible and his wife Rosemary at their house on the James River. It was an incredibly fun night full of amazing conversation (and food). When we are seniors, we will be invited once again – only this time for a champagne toast.
  4. Grocery shopping for myself: To move on to firsts that are less glamorous and more frequent, I’ve had to shop for myself for the past seven weeks. I don’t have a car this semester, so that involves walking to the store, deciding what I actually need, and then carrying it back (a gallon of milk gets really heavy really quickly). It’s been strange to shop for my own food, along with medicine, toiletries and any other supplies I may need.
  5. Eating dining hall food: This is definitely not a first that everyone experiences, but those who packed their lunch in high school will be able to relate. This is the first time in my life that all of my food has been prepared for me, and that I’ve had absolutely no control over what it is. As someone who has been the only vegetarian in their family for almost five years, I’m used to packing my lunch and often cooking my dinner. While the options here are varied and delicious, it’s strange to get used to the atmosphere and not having to choose what I’m going to eat ahead of time.
  6. Getting lost in Forbes: I thought that this one was a joke when a senior told me it would happen, but they were right. I was talking to a girl I know during Welcome Week, and while on the topic of finding classes, she warned me about getting lost in Forbes. “Are you really a freshman if you don’t get lost in Forbes?” is what she asked. I was convinced it wouldn’t be that hard – and proved that to myself when I found my second floor class on my first try. However, a week and a half into classes, I was on my way to leadership when I realized I had no idea where I was. Turns out getting lost in Forbes is a right of passage.
  7. Studying for five hours a day: OK, for me this should be more like “studying in general” because my studying was practically nonexistent in high school. But for the purpose of everyone else, I’ll assume most of the freshman here actually studied like I should have. When during Orientation our leaders told us we would have to make school a full-time job – implying that between classes and studying we should be devoting almost 40 hours a week to our classes – they weren’t joking. I was planning on studying enough to master the material and get good grades, but nowhere in my mind did that mean I would be spending around five hours a day with my nose in a book or going over notes. Well, it does mean that. Any so-called free time I have is immediately devoted to studying, and I definitely need it.
  8. Leaving my “home” at 2 a.m.: This is definitely another unanticipated one. I won’t say I was never up past two in the morning, or even out past two in the morning, while I was at home. While it didn’t happen frequently, it definitely did happen. However, waking up at my house in Berryville never resulted in anything more than getting a drink or reading a book. When I couldn’t sleep here in 250A York River East, it occurred to me that I could honestly just get up and leave since there was no curfew and no one I was accountable to. I ended up walking around the Great Lawn aimlessly before sitting on the front of CNU Hall listening to classical music in a rocking chair.
  9. Relying on email: I’ve never been bad at checking my email, but since move in day it has become a somewhat unhealthy obsession. Unlike high school, college professors use email to communicate with their students and use it frequently at that. I receive at least three emails from my professors daily, and then about half a dozen more from the school itself about activities or important notices. Now that I have a job and I’m a part of two clubs and one volunteering organization, I receive even more significant emails almost daily. Instead of Facebook or Twitter, the first thing I look at when I wake up is my email. Every time I check my phone or answer a text, I make sure to also check my email just to be sure I’m up to date on assignments, events, and canceled classes.
  10. Living with 40 people my age: Perhaps this is the most obvious, but hall life is definitely different from anything else I have ever experienced. Coming from a family with six siblings, I thought I’d be prepared for this. I’m not. It’s strange but slightly awesome to have 40 people who have wacky sleep schedules and somewhat terrifying amounts of energy around you 24/7. By no means bad, necessarily, but most assuredly very different. Every time I think I’m used to it, something new and incredibly strange happens. The good news is, I’m learning to embrace it.

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