Welcome Week is not Freshers. There will not be a schedule of going out, getting wasted, sleeping till three and then doing it all again. Rather, Welcome week is the conservative American cousin. Before arriving, we were all sent details of a Welcome Week guide, there was an app and a website, on which we could sign up and begin creating our own schedule. There were over 500 events to choose from. They ranged from tours of different areas, guides to academic planning, yoga, theatre productions and drag queen bingo. It can all seem a little overwhelming to start with. Especially when you're faced with the prospect of starting afresh in an alien environment - made all the more exciting, or scarier, when in the middle of New York. So, here is a brief list of what I learned during that first week:
1. Don't stress too much about other peoples' perceptions of you - honestly, most of the time everybody is busy worrying about themselves. Letting this fear inhibit you prevents you from coming out of your shell and enjoying what is truly a fantastic week. I promise you, unless you come out with crazily controversial quotes, nobody is going to remember exactly what you said or how you looked during this week. Instead, they, and you, will be grateful for having struck up a conversation and having found someone to talk to. Going to a big school, and NYU is certainly big, can often be construed as a negative. However, it also allows you to act however you feel and portray as much confidence as you like because you know that there is a strong likelihood that you won't have to see this person again.
2. Don't worry about trying to do as much as possible - Welcome Week is not a college application. You do not have to prove to anyone that you are capable of going out and having fun. Choose what interests you and what you want to do. If you miss events, or don't feel like them, it's fine. I had originally planned to attend as many as I could. I filled my schedule with far-flung events, with the belief that it was important to try as much as possible and meet as many people as I could. It didn't end up working out that way. I would make friends in one event and then we would choose to hang out together or explore New York by ourselves. Just allowing myself that time to slow down and enjoy the rush was far more beneficial than packing in everything possible.
3. That being said, don't spend all your time locked away. You shouldn't be afraid of coming out of the room! Or the residence halls, for that matter. Step outside, take some fresh air and just enjoy the fun. Trust me, there will be a time when you are bombarded with work from all fronts, and you will long for those carefree days of Welcome Week.
4. Being lost is not a bad thing. This is both physically and mentally. You do not need to know everything or everyone. How could you? Sure, some people seem more assured and more confident than others, but that is of no consequence. Either make friends with them, or ignore them. That is your choice. College provides the freedom for you to decide who you want to be friends with and what you want to do. This takes time, so don't worry when you don't know all the answers. Being lost physically can also be a good thing. DISCLAIMER: this is not true of being alone in a dark, unlit area in the early hours. However, during the first few days, I had no idea where I was or where I was going. This proved a great motivation to get me outside and exploring in the hope that I would be better orientated by the next day. It also provided mutual experience over which to bond with other geographically inept freshmen.
5. The Freshman 15 should not top your list of worries. The freshmen 15 is not a worry unless you make it one. Far too much is said on this topic. Basically, it boils down to making sure you eat well and moderately, and just exercise. This is for your health, and although you may be keen to reject everything you once did at home - try and keep this one. Your body will thank you. but, if you gain a little wait, relax, you have plenty of time to lose it. There are far more important things to concern yourself with.
6. Don't worry. This is the main one. A lot of people end up disappointed with Freshers or Welcome Week because they imagine college to be this cool, edgy place which will solve every adolescent worry and concern ever held. Do not entertain such delusions. College is fantastic, but it is not an antidote. It is similar to school. There are children you will despise, and there will be those you get along with, teachers who don't teach and lessons you find too hard. There will be more stress than you ever encountered, and you won't have the immediate support system you did back home. But, don't worry. This sounds like stupid advice, but hey, we all need reminding of the obvious ones every now and again. And honestly, it's the best advice I can offer. College is a learning curve, and it will hit you. The key is to learning to ride the wave and enjoy the process. Find a balance you enjoy, and if you're not enjoying it, then modify it till you do.
College is the continuous process of changing and altering your environment until you find what is really, truly you. Welcome Week is just a tiny part of this. Although it seems huge at the beginning, like it is one giant step on the road to your future, I promise you its significance is rooted mainly in your mind. If it goes well, that's fantastic. If not, then you have plenty of time left. By the time October rolls around, we all laugh about ourselves then as if it were another life. So just enjoy it and don't take it too seriously. In fact, the only serious mission you should follow is collecting as many freebies as possible.