Eckburg: There is no ‘right’ way to do your 1st year

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Collegian | Chloe Leline

(Graphic illustration by Chloe Leline | The Collegian)

Bella Eckburg, Opinion Director

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

First and foremost, welcome to Fort Collins. When you first see your life in boxes waiting to be unpacked in a room you now share with a virtual stranger, it can be easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. 

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Keeping in mind that you and the rest of your first-year peers are in the same boat is crucial to staying afloat as you adjust to life as a college student and individual.

There is no right way to experience your first year in college. You don’t have to party hard, you don’t have to go out to every event you’re invited to and you do not have to join clubs, but you might surprise yourself once you arrive on campus. 

I moved into the dorms the second semester of my first year — after I spent the first half of the year learning virtually. Although my experience will differ greatly from yours, as I only lived in the dorms for seven weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the best decision I could’ve made. 

I was already behind the curve, with everyone already knowing one another from the previous semester. After my parents left, I sat alone in my room, knowing the stranger who was to be my roommate would arrive in a few days — someone I’d only met on FaceTime days earlier after her roommate transferred schools.

I must’ve sat for less than five minutes before there was a knock at the door, where I was then met with eight first-years who lived on my floor introducing themselves and asking me to hang out. I swear I could feel the fear melting away. 

Colorado State University is home to more than 28,000 students; you likely will never interact with many of them, so if you feel nervous about branching out of your comfort zone for fear of embarrassment, remember everyone is looking at themselves. 

The environment on campus is diverse, unique and inviting. The people you meet in your classes — especially if you stick with your major — will likely pop up in later classes you take throughout the years. Even though it seems daunting, getting the social media accounts or phone numbers of those you sit next to will help immensely. 

“Explore everything: Look at the beautiful art all over campus and inside the buildings, spend a day reading on The Oval and enjoy your time at CSU — these next four years will fly by. Use that little fish feeling to your advantage.”

If you need it, ask people on campus for help finding your classes. The campus layout will feel foreign for the first month or two, but there are lots of students and staff members who will point you in the right direction and maybe even give you tips about the classes you’re taking or the professors you have. 

When your instructors recommend clubs or organizations to check out, check them out — it never hurts to send an email asking for information, even if you aren’t fully committed to joining anything. This is how I found The Collegian, and first-year me could never have imagined now being on the editors’ team. 

The culture of campus likely varies greatly from that of your high school. You’ll meet people of all ages, backgrounds, identities and more, and there’s no weird social hierarchy when you’re in a class of a few hundred people. 

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Explore everything: Look at the beautiful art all over campus and inside the buildings, spend a day reading on The Oval and enjoy your time at CSU — these next four years will fly by. Use that little fish feeling to your advantage. 

It’s OK to cry alone in the dorms (trust me, it’s a rite of passage), and it’s OK to be afraid of the unknown variables in your future, but know Rams take care of Rams, and we all have your back. See you on campus!

Reach Bella Eckburg at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @yaycolor.