My Advice to First Years

My first year at K was three years ago, but I still remember so many moments like they were yesterday. That’s why I feel confident with the ten pieces of advice I will give to you for your first year at K. But, the most important thing to remember about your first year at Kalamazoo College is to have fun on your own journey.

  1. Be open.

Leave your door open while you’re doing homework so your neighbors can come chat with you. Go to Community Reflection. Listen to those who are speaking. Remember that you will be a different person at graduation than you were on your first day, and work on making that person better!

  1. Find space to do your own thing.

One thing that can be tricky about life at K is finding both time and space to be alone. I would highly recommend locating somewhere where no one is doing homework, talking on the phone, or chatting, where you can spend time reading for fun or listening to a podcast. Some locations that I enjoy: the Cavern (underneath the Chapel), the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, and the porch outside of Harmon.

  1. Don’t be afraid to eat alone.

I will be the first to admit- this is hard. It is so easy to just go to the Richardson Room (sandwiches to go) or order delivery when your friends are busy or not hungry. BUT! The cafeteria alone is actually fun. You can people watch, read, listen to music, or do nothing. And no one will bother you or laugh at you. Sitting alone is great. Also, you might make new friends if another person is sitting alone near you!

  1. Take classes that interest you.

As a first year, you have no commitments to your major (in most circumstances). Take advantage of that. Take a philosophy class. Take a religion class. They will only open more doors. You can become a better writer or a better speaker. Most importantly, you will be becoming a better student.

  1. Call your parents.

Okay, your parents will miss you. They want to hear from you. They know you have that fancy new smartphone- use it! Facetime or Skype is a great way to connect with your family back home, especially if you have pets. The random text about the mac and cheese in the caf that reminded you of home will make your mom’s whole week. They want you to love college!

  1. Explore the city.

Another thing that I wish I would have done more of. Kalamazoo has so much to offer! You are now living in a cool city! Music, food, shopping, we have it all! If you’re looking for something easy to introduce you to the city, try Art Hop!

  1. Learn self-care and mindfulness.

College can be stressful. When midterms or a research paper have got you down, you should have some techniques to help you cope and get through the hard times. If taking a shower helps you feel like you have accomplished something, take one. If you need to make a to-do list, then cross things off, make one. Find things that help you stay balanced and happy.

  1. Take your gym credits.

This is easy. Sign up for gym classes so you won’t have to worry about it when you’re a senior.

  1. Make friends that are different from you.

Chances are, your first few days at K will help you realize how different people are. But you all have one thing in common: Kalamazoo College. Challenge yourself to engage with someone who you have nothing in common with and you will be surprised how much fun you can have.

  1. Don’t worry about the future.

Live in the moment. This is your first year in college. The future will come fast enough, and you don’t need to rush it.

– Claudia Greening ’17