19 January 2006
“Dance like there’s nobody watching
—“Come From the Heart”
Looking back at my first semester at UT, I find myself filled with an amalgamation of complex and paradoxical sentiments. In other words, a fancier way of saying that when looking back I feel both content and conflicted. In retrospect, there are definitely a few things I wouldn’t mind changing, my deplorable study habits being one of them. Don’t get me wrong, there is no other school I would rather be than at The University of Texas at Austin.
What they say is true; it is orange blood that runs in our veins. Spend a day with a student at UT and you’ll think that we came out of our mother’s womb singing “The Eyes of Texas,” or at least chanting “Texas Fight!” Learning to be a Longhorn is as much about school spirit as it is learning how to live and adapt yourself to the college lifestyle. This entry won’t be a peek at my philosophical musings on human nature or pointless stories of my quest to find an albino squirrel, but rather, and I know this may be a shock to some, a list of things that I’ve learned during my first semester at UT.
So here it is.
10.) When signing up for classes, check what other students have to say about the professor or the class at (pickaprof.com) or (ratemyprofessors.com). Pick-A-Prof requires a very minimal fee per semester and Rate-My-Professor is a free service. The professor you receive could be the deciding factor for how well you do in class. Not to mention, it doesn’t hurt to know what you’re getting into.
9.) Give your mom and dad a proper goodbye. Reassure your parents that you will not turn into a party animal and that you will do fine in school without them watching your every move. It is as much benefiting your parents as it is benefiting you. Your parents will have an easier time departing your side and leaving you to cope with the “big and scary world” of being an adult in college. And you’ll avoid having to call your mom every night giving her a rundown of everything you did that day, not to mention random calls during the day to check up on you. Not speaking from experience, of course. But then again, I gave my mom and dad a “proper goodbye.”
8.) Plan your route to class before the first day of class. Just in case you didn’t know, UT is a big campus. And although often referred to as the 40 Acres, it’s actually much larger than that. Acquire a map of the campus and get yourself acquainted with the acronyms given to the buildings. You may feel like you’re in a twisted version of Sesame Street, relearning your alphabet with buildings coded like PCL (Perry-Castañeda Library) and RLM (Robert Lee Moore Hall), but after a while you’ll realize there is actually logic behind the madness. Besides, you can always distinguish the freshman students at UT on the first day of school. They’re the ones who look the most confused and are haphazardly walking the campus with their faces buried in a campus map. They might as well have a neon sign flashing over their head screaming, “I’m a freshman.” So, by planning your route in advance, not only will you not be part of the clueless masses, but you’ll actually get to class on time. Be a “cool” freshman, not a late one.
7.) Call your parents. It doesn’t have to be every day, but at least let them know you still exist. Otherwise, you risk having your mom think that you’re dead and driving up to UT to make sure that you’re not, resulting in a most unfortunately embarrassing moment that will traumatize you for the rest of your life. Again, not speaking from experience, of course.
6.) Use the campus buses. Riding the bus can be the difference between being late and being on time. Not to mention the service is free (actually it’s included with the fees that you have to pay in your tuition). But, let’s pretend it’s free because who can resist free service.
5.) If you want to save money and end up living within the vicinity of Jester Dorm eat at J2. You’re given only $1,200 of Dine-In-Dollars, so ideally you want to use only $600 during the first semester. Eating at Jester City Limit (JCL) or other similar venues will have you spending approximately $6 dollars a meal, eating maybe two meals a day (which I don’t recommend, but is a reality in college), living about 133 days at UT, when calculated equals $1,596. Not only will you surpass the $600 that you should be aiming for, but you’ll also exceed the $1,200 that should last for a semester. Now I’ll admit some complain that the quality of food at J2 is not up to par with JCL, but J2 offers a buffet for approximately $3. Now, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that you’ll save money eating at J2.
4.) Get some rest. Sleep is crucial at college. No matter how little sleep you think you really need, go to bed anyway. A good amount of sleep can be the difference between passing and failing, the difference between being on time and sleeping through class, and the difference between sanity and a plunge into the deep end. Seriously, get some sleep.
3.) Get out of bed and go to class. I know, it sounds simple enough. But, I promise you, when you go to college you’ll have classes where you’ll wonder why you’re there, especially when the classes are early in the morning or attendance is not mandatory. You’ll even have classes where you’ll feel that you would learn more reading the book than going to class, where you’ll end up falling asleep anyway. Not that falling asleep is your fault, of course. You can’t help it that your professor has as much personality as a stick and a voice that makes Ben Stein sound like a peppy high school cheerleader. But, no matter how smart you think you are, or how much better you think you’ll do not going to class, go to class.
2.) Meet people. I can honestly say that the people I have met have made my experience at UT that much more enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to make new friends. Talk to people and chances are you’ll meet someone who shares the same interests you do. Half of the experience at UT is meeting people and being with the people you meet. When you’re having the worst day of your life, your friends will be there to help pick you up. When you randomly feel like running up and down all 10 floors of Jester East, your friends will be there running with you. For me, being away from home, I found a new home in Austin and my friends became part of my family.
1.) Finally, enjoy every moment. I can honestly say that being at UT has been the best experience of my life. Never have I met such a large pool of talented, motivated and unique individuals who share the passion to learn and live life the fullest. Embrace each experience with open arms and approach each day with a smile. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really mean it. Enjoy every moment you’re in Austin. I know it has been one of the best experiences of my life.
So there they are: the 10 things that I’ve learned at UT. Take it for what it is. Who knows, maybe in a year you’ll have your own stories to share. In closing, I would like to say good luck to all the college students returning back to their schools in New Orleans. And one more thing, congratulations to our football team for the victory over the University of Southern California and winning the Rose Bowl. Hook ’em!If you have any comments or questions, or you just want to say hi, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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