25 things I wish I knew as a first-year
Dear Class of 2016,
Some of you reading this column are already in love with college, Grounds and all things U.Va. Others are probably like I was – you’re adjusting, but you’re missing senior year of high school when you were a big fish in a small pond. Whichever camp you fall into, I know one thing: You don’t have this place figured out yet and #FirstYearProblems are part of your daily lives, not to mention Twitter feeds.
But fear not: as a reward for picking up The Cavalier Daily or reading it on our amazing new website, I surveyed 834 of my closest (Facebook) friends about things we as second, third and fourth years wish we had known as first years.
People will tell you that because I am a fourth year, this is “my year” at the University. But I believe it is as much your year as mine. Never again will you live so close to classes or have so many friends’ closets to raid. You don’t have to deal with the pressure of finding a job or internship because you just made a major life decision and can enjoy it carelessly for a while. You’re the only class of students at the school that understands the bus route. It’s still socially acceptable to use the excuse “I’m a first year” for gaining 15 pounds or going a little too hard one night. By the time you’re my ripe old age, people expect you to have your life together.
There is no guessing involved as a first year—you can assume everyone is either your age or older than you; as a result, there is a 0 percent chance of hooking up with someone awkwardly younger than you.
When you go home for fall break in several weeks, you will be absolved of all chores you formerly had, your favorite meals will appear one after the other and your laundry will be magically cleaned. Eventually your homecoming won’t be such a novelty.
Maybe you love college now or maybe you don’t. Regardless, I promise when you’re my age you’re going to be looking back nostalgically on your first-year youth and you’ll wish you had taken fuller advantage of it. Fortunately, the list below will help you do just that. So without further ado, with help from a few representatives of the classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015, here are the top 25 things we wish we knew as first years:
1. Go to office hours. At the end of the semester if your grade is on the fence, it will be the higher of the two.
2. You can take the trolley downtown to the Jefferson Theater for great, inexpensive live music.
3. No. 3 on the Corner has $5 dinner on Tuesdays.
4. For $5 you can get unlimited tacos at Baja Bean on Wednesdays.
5. On the last Friday of every month, the University of Virginia Art Museum hosts Final Fridays from 5:30-7:30 p.m., featuring free cheeses, fruit, crackers, bread, sweets and more for you to enjoy while you look at art. And when you’re over 21, you get free beer or wine with admittance.
6. Join the Alumni Association. It’s free while you’re a student, and they give out bagels and blue books before exams. You also get discounts all over Charlottesville, including the University Bookstore.
7. If you show your Alumni Association membership card at Little John’s you get a free soda.
8. West Range Café by Garrett Hall is one of the best spots for a lunch date with a friend. Added bonus: the perfectly seasoned French fries. And yes, they take Plus Dollars.
9. There is a free “happy hour” class at the Aquatic & Fitness Center every Friday at 5:45 p.m.
10. Have a special pair of “frat flats” and a “fracket” that can be ruined if you go out.
11. Ladies, there is no shame in bringing your own toilet paper in your cross body bag with you to a frat house.
12. Guys, if you want a great place to pick up girls, go to an a capella concert.
13. Go to Fry’s Spring Station for the pizza, stay for the Sookie.
14. Get involved in an organization early – a student publication, Greek life, a religious group, student government or any CIO. You’ll instantly have a group. A lot of those kids will have cars, so they can drive you places. Some of them will live in apartments, so you don’t always have to go to a frat house on Friday night.
15. Don’t just stay on University Avenue to experience the Corner. There are great restaurants and shops down Elliewood.
16. The Castle is closed on Friday nights and all of Saturday. You will always forget this fact.
17. Skip the bagels at Einstein’s and go for the smoothies. All of your bagels should be coming from Bodo’s anyway.
18. The main attraction at the Charlottesville Farmers’ Market on the Downtown Mall is the taco stand.
19. The black bean quesadilla from the Fine Arts Café is the best quesadilla in the world. We’ve heard the burger is pretty good too, but we’ve never been able to go there and not order a black bean quesadilla. That’s how good it is.
20. The dessert table at Runk is deadly to your waistline. It’s best to just stay away. In the words of Joey Tribbiani: “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.” This rule does not apply when it’s blueberry cheesecake night.
21. The Greenberry’s locations around Grounds give away their extra food at the end of the day.
22. It is physically impossible to get things done before 10 a.m. on a Saturday. Even the dining halls realize this fact.
23. Get to know your advisors, professors and your dean. You’ll never know when you need their advice or help. Sometimes there are even donuts involved.
24. When upperclassmen offer to drive you places, they are being genuine. Don’t feel awkward asking. Everyone loves an excuse to procrastinate, especially when Target or free food samples at Harris Teeter are involved.
25. You can always retake a class, but you can never relive a party.