My first year at college was crazy, stressful, and fun. Trinity became my new home in just a matter of months. As a senior in high school, I remember the endless slew of advice from relatives, teachers, and anyone else who knew I was going to college. Sometimes, I would gladly listen. I wanted to know everything! Other times, it felt as if I was hearing the same “helpful tip” for the thousandth time. So, even if you’ve heard this before, I have some advice I’d like to share. These are things I wish I knew before coming to Trin:
Put Yourself Out There
Looking back, I wish I’d done some of the pre-orientation programs like rock climbing with Quest or biking around Hartford for Bantam Beginnings. Take advantage of them! These programs are a great way to meet people before everyone arrives on campus and they would’ve helped me get my footing a bit better during my first couple weeks. Orientation may seem long, but you get the opportunity to meet so many people. I wish I’d realized EVERYONE is trying to make friends. My recommendation would be to talk to AS MANY people as possible. The first few weeks are just as new and as intimidating for everyone else, so get out there!
Especially in your Dorm…
Living in a residence hall is honestly amazing. I wish I got to know more people in my building. Although I had my wonderful roommate, I didn’t get to meet many other people besides saying a friendly “hello” at the bathroom sinks. So, go out and meet your hall buddies the first couple days because they’re the ones with whom you’ll want to have your late night study sessions, your movie nights in the common room, your spontaneous trips ice skating, and your Chick-fil-A runs.
Appreciate the Food
If only I had appreciated from the beginning the luxury of having someone else cook for you. Yes, of course, everyone reaches a point when they just refuse to step into Mather Dining Hall. Luckily, there are plenty of other dining options on and off campus. Try a new restaurant! I love the empanadas from Aquí Me Quedo on Park Street. When you don’t even feel like popping off campus, we have Vernon Street food trucks that often come in on the weekends thanks to Trinity S.A.I.L. During finals, we’ll have an ice cream truck stationed by Mather that gives out FREE ice cream! I am a big fan of free food. Various Trin clubs will host food-centric events like a “Mochi Social” with the Hawaii club and “Crêpe Night” with the French club. Common hour talks usually have lunch, too, where you feed your stomach and your brain.
Make Hartford Home, But No, For Real
I wish I listened when I was told to venture off campus my first year. Go on the Downtown Friday trips with the Bantam Network because who doesn’t like free things? These trips often involve activities like celebrating Halloween at the Six Flags Fright Fest, enjoying the latest show at the Bushnell, reclining back for the newest movie at Spotlight Theater, and meeting up for a tasty dinner at some of the many nearby restaurants. On one adventure, my friends and I ended up with a big box of cannoli from Mozzicato Bakery, which was the best decision ever. They were delicious. So, use your bus pass to wander the city: tour The Mark Twain House & Museum, admire the art in the Wadsworth Atheneum (free to Trinity students, btw!), and find your favorite restaurant. Make Hartford yours!
Budget your time! This sounds simple, but I wish I knew it would be so hard. It is certainly more difficult than it seems. Keep trying out new things until you find a balance that works for you. Here’s something to keep in mind:
Procrastination does not work in college. Believe me, studying at 4 a.m. is just not worth it. Sometimes people consider late-night studying a bragging right. When you do this EVERY time, you WILL be overwhelmed by stress. From someone who wished they realized this sooner, I recommend you carve out time in your schedule for studying and homework.
Get involved! College is not ALL about your classes. Go out and try new things! You’ll make some of your best memories, I promise. Some of my favorites to highlight include eating pastries at high tea with the ballroom dance team and i-House, making mini gingerbread homes at the decoration party for “Lessons and Carols” in the Chapel, and exploring Montreal with the Trin French club.
Self-Care is Key
Most importantly, factor in some “me time” so you don’t get stressed. Whether it’s a 30-minute trip to the gym, a quiet meditation in your room, an episode on Netflix (no binge watching though), or a relaxing face mask. I found rock climbing. I finally made the time to try it out after getting TrinRec emails for the last year. The extra hour or two I took on Thursdays to rock climb turned out to be one of my favorite activities.
Experiment & Explore
It is seriously SO okay to not know what you want to study. I’d heard this advice so many times before and I thought “yeah, okay, I get it”. I didn’t. I kept pressuring myself to make a decision and have a plan. When I changed my mind for the third or fourth time, I actually ended up in a class I loved: Marine and Freshwater Botany. I had always liked biology, but only tolerated the labs. Since lab work reflects what biologists actually do, I was a little concerned that biology wasn’t for me. With this class, I finally found a lab I enjoyed. I waded in the ocean in my jeans to get a good temperature reading, walked across a bog as it started to snow, and grew a culture of bright green algae that I then identified. My advice is to take the class that sounds cool or interesting. You may end up finding what you love.
And above all else, HAVE FUN, and remember you aren’t in this alone! If you get lost or have questions, just ask a fellow Bant, we’re here to help make your transition to Trin a smooth one.