Freshman year is a universal learning experience. We tend to try many new things for that quintessential “college experience,” even if we end up regretting them in the end. We’ve gathered the wisdom — if you could call it that — that we’ve gained throughout our freshman years to give some friendly advice to incoming freshmen (and our past selves):
Don’t try to be cooler than you actually are
Ah college, the perfect time to strip yourself of your reputation as a bookworm or overachiever in high school and reinvent yourself as a frat star, hippie or exceptionally cool Independent who owns a Nikon and uses words like “juxtaposition” in casual conversation (we call these hipsters). This might sound like a great opportunity to shun your geeky roots and pursue a more promising social path. But before you do that, remember one thing: you are a nerd. You might be shaking your head in nerd denial but trust me, if you go to this school you either used to eating meals over your books and/or skipping Halloween parties to study for midterms, naturally gifted and thus fall into this category by default, in possession of some very interesting, but undeniably very nerdy passion or hobby or are really good at admissions essays.
Having established that we all share a subtle but sacred nerdy bond please, reader, don’t try to convince people that you’re something that you’re not. When you try to act cooler than you are, you might just come off as inauthentic to the people around you and cheat yourself out of making some solid relationships or even worse, take too many shots at a party and puke on or around people you will definitely have to see again. While we at the Clog embrace the opportunity that college gives us to grow and change, we want to make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons. Wear that cut up bro tank because it’s appealing to you, not so you can improve your credibility with anybody (because bro tanks scream credibility). And hey, if you own a bro tank and also happen to enjoy playing World of Warcraft, don’t be afraid to let out your inner Night Elf. We know quite a few lookers on both ends of the spectrum that enjoy a little nerdy banter — because if one thing has been cleared up for us here at Berkeley it’s that nerd is not synonymous with loser, it’s synonymous with an attractive brain. And if we learned only one thing from the American film classics Ghost Busters 2, Back to the Future or American Pie, it’s that the nerd always get the girl. So just be you.
Don’t overthink the wardrobe
You may be coming to Cal fresh out of private school, where it was a sin to violate dress code. You may have had overly strict parents, or you might be eager to put together a respectable wardrobe after years of putting your personal appearance on the back-burner. Whatever your motivation is for upping the ante of the clothes you wear, think twice about taking this step. Wear what you want, but don’t feel bad about keeping it “hella casual.” In the long run, you’re going to be happy that you are well stocked in sweatpants, pajamas and yoga pants department. And if you feel bad about your outfit choice when you’re comparing your Cal sweatshirt and Nikes to the person dressed to the nines, imagine them walking a mile uphill back home … maybe even in the rain.
Don’t freak out too much about friends
Scene: you’re in your dorm room on a Friday night, head down on a flat surface next to whatever’s left of the food you probably shouldn’t be eating, staring longingly at an iPhone that hasn’t buzzed in over four hours. Did this depress you? No? Good. Don’t be the person that is bothered by this! Even if you’ve been at this school for a while and feel like you still haven’t found people you really “connect” with like you did in high school, don’t worry. Of course you aren’t going to instantly make the same relationships that you had in high school. Those relationships were years in the making and conditions were much different. In high school, we bonded easily with the people we saw every day in our classes. In college, some classes only meet up once a week. In high school, we more or less followed the same schedule. In college, we’re on our own schedules, constantly maneuvering between school, work, practice, chores, meetings, internships and whatever else you all do. With this amount of life chaos, it’s obvious that it is difficult to hone in on the awesome people that will “make” your college experience. So once again, cut yourself some slack and give it time — maybe even a lot of time. To paraphrase that one famous quote by that one guy, when you start doing the things you love, you’ll start finding the people that you love. Cheesy? Definitely. But sometimes that stuff actually works. And seriously, when has quantity over quality ever been the message? Friendship is no different. We’d rather have a couple of the greatest people on earth laughing at our bad jokes than a larger number pretending to.