8 simple things I would tell my freshman self

A cow on Horsebarn Hill peers out from its pen. Exploring Horsebarn Hill is a must for UConn freshman. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

1. Never order your textbooks until after the first class.

While it’s not a bad idea to take a look at your textbook list through the UConn bookstore page, never actually buy anything until the first lecture (which you shouldn’t skip!) Professors might tell you where to find the book online for cheaper/for free or that you can use a less expensive older edition. Not only that, if you talk to a TA or former student of the class, you might find out that you barely use the book at all!

On that note, try to get the phone number of at least one other person in class. That way, if you want to share a book or if you miss a lecture, you have a lifeline.

2. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Yeah, yeah, it sounds cliche`d, but now is your time to branch out. UConn has over 100 different clubs and activities, both major-related and unrelated. Check out the Involvement Fair on Wednesday,  August 7 on Fairfield way and see what there is out there! Clubs can provide you with countless opportunities, such as networking contacts for jobs, skill training or weekend outings. It looks great on your resume` and is an awesome way to meet new people and unwind after a hard day. Don’t discount a club because it’s ‘weird’ or if you don’t know anything about it-- they’re always willing to help new members learn.  

3. Four words: Duct Tape and Boxes.

After you unpack on move-in day, save your boxes! Just cut through the tape and flatten them. When you need a place to store the 500 string bags UConn gives away every year on move-out day, just use some duct tape to re-assemble to box. Also, try to get interesting printed duct tape-- it looks cool and is a great conversation starter.

4. Know your food hacks!

Tea drinker? Don’t bother spending $4 for a small cup at the cafe’s. Just buy a box of tea bags at the grocery store and ask for a cup of hot water, which is only $0.25. There are a surprising amount of foods that can be made in the microwave-- sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs, brownies, you name it. Try to keep some food in your dorm that’s easy to prepare, in case you’re too sick or the weather is too bad to go to a dining hall (Ramen or Cup-A-Noodles is great when you have a sore throat!)

5. There’s lots of ways to make friends.

Leave your door open on the first week. Your floormates can be a great help to you-- whether you need a study buddy, some duct tape or a shoulder to cry on. Friends you make in classes can help you with notes and preparing for tests. Like I said before, clubs are also a great way to connect and meet people with similar interests as you.

6. UConn is a weather anomaly.

Invest in a raincoat/poncho. Failing that, invest in a pack of garbage bags. The winds here get pretty wicked, and it will quickly turn any umbrella into a sad pile of metal and plastic. If it’s marketed as ‘windproof’, then you’re asking for a dislocated shoulder.

Also: Snowboots, scarves and fingerless gloves are your best friends. When the weather turns cold, you’ll want to bundle up and be prepared to trudge through some snow!

7. Find out where your classes are before they start.

UConn gives you a full weekend to settle in. Use this time to grab your schedule, a map, a compass and a friend so you can figure out where your classes are. Go INSIDE the buildings and find out exactly which room you’re in-- some lecture halls have funky placements and numbering. Try to follow your schedule in order so you know how long it takes to get from class to class. Make sure you have a hard copy of your schedule as well-- phones and wifi can be unreliable at the worst of times-- and don't be afraid to ask for directions.

8. Explore!

UConn is a public university, which means that much of the campus is open and free to visit. Check out the greenhouses near the bio building, or visit the really cute calves in the barns on the other side of Horsebarn Hill. Check out the art exhibitions in the library, or go to the Natural History Museum near McMahon. There are so many secrets to uncover, and all you have to do is find them!


Marlese Lessing is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu.