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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

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The UCSD Guardian’s Ultimate First-Year Guide

Keita Kobayashi

Two years ago, I walked onto Library Walk, stared up at Geisel Library, and felt the glorious spotlight of heaven shine on me as I stepped into my destiny. My life was finally beginning! It was my turn to have the Original Experience™ of being freshly 18 years old on a huge college campus. The freedom tasted like jungle juice and stale dining hall donuts; it smelled like eucalyptus trees and Geisel 2E. I was on top of the world, sure that this feeling would guide me through my next four years at college.  

Long story short, that feeling died. Two years later, I now know that first-years are just annoying teenagers who get too drunk at parties, stink up Geisel with their B.O. (though that might just be the CS majors), and ask too many stupid questions. Of course, you don’t realize how annoying first-years are until you aren’t a first-year anymore and can look back with the benefit of hindsight. I’d like to say, as a third-year, I have some authority when it comes to dictating what constitutes annoying first-year behavior. 

(Though, to be fair, I think most upperclassmen have this authority. Not second-years, though. They’re really just glorified first-years.)

From what places to avoid on campus to hearty advice on how to behave appropriately on campus, this article will prove useful for anyone seeking guidance on how to survive their first year — or how to survive the first-years. 

If you are someone who is trying to avoid them altogether, you’re in luck! First-years are super easy to spot. Each of them thinks they look so cool and so mysterious on campus, but the reality is they tend to radiate a very specific energy that screams NEWB! If you’re not good at picking up on vibes, however, here are five ways to immediately identify a freshman:

  1. Any lost-looking person who is, undoubtedly, wearing a lanyard. For some reason, every single first-year insists on wearing one. Why? Is it a signal? Does it help them identify each other? We’ll never know.
  2. Anyone with Google Maps open on their phone. You’ll know they have it pulled up because they forgot to connect the audio to their headphones, and the Google Maps lady very loudly announced that they need to turn onto Matthews Lane to get to Warren Lecture Hall. 
  3. Anyone with the sudden desire to stop walking, no matter where they are! This is apparently very popular to do in the middle of the Sixth College stairs. The rules of traffic flow seemingly do not apply to these young freshmen, and us old upperclassmen are the ones that must yield to them.
  4. Anyone walking extremely slow on Library Walk; this is a direct result of them not knowing where they’re going, but knowing that their Tinder match is right there. And, for some reason, they think walking slower will make them invisible! (Trust me, they do not remember who you are. Walk faster, please.)
  5. Anyone forming a line to enter somewhere for no good reason. Listen. I know that RIMAC is scary, and the revolving gates are intimidating, but there is no need to line up for them. Just swipe your ID, and go in.

Speaking of “Liontree Arena,” this is the perfect time to discuss all the worst places to be on campus right now! The first-years are absolutely enthralled by the many wonders of UCSD. The fact that there’s a Target seems to blow their minds, so much so that they’ll line up all the way around the building to get in. This is in no way a diss to any of these places but rather a warning that, for the first few weeks of Fall Quarter, it might be best to avoid them. I mean, I love MOMs Cafe as much as any other super cool hipster, but I simply cannot wait an hour for my chai lattes. Not that Starbucks would be a better alternative.

Other places to avoid include: Price Center, the Bookstore, Sunshine Market, dining halls, Sixth Market (especially during a passing period) — or anywhere in Sixth, for that matter — the Marshall construction sites, and every Fairbanks coffee shop.

(On second thought, maybe don’t come to campus at all.)

Now, some advice for you darling first-years! I’ll make it brief, since I know reading at a college level is a new concept for some of you:

  1. Stop asking stupid questions. You can just look up what time your classes start yourself instead of pestering your peer mentor. Shocker: Google exists. 
  2. Don’t try to argue with the dining hall employees. Karma exists, and when it’s your turn to serve first-years in Pines, you won’t be too happy about it. And, yes, Triton2Go Boxes are an extra $5; no, exceptions cannot be made.
  3. Stop walking in the bike lane. And stop biking on walking paths. There are signs everywhere telling you which is which. You are going to get hit by a scooter. I will not apologize for running you over. 

But seriously, I get it. Starting your first year of college is exciting and terrifying! It can be intimidating going to a school as ginormous as UCSD. So the best advice I can give is to take it easy. Your first year is for you to learn the ropes and get the hang of things. You definitely have a lot of complicated, ridiculous drama headed your way that this article simply cannot prepare you for. But instead of treating it like the end of the world, look at it as a rite of passage. Every first-year before you has had to do the walk of shame to the dining hall for breakfast at 1 p.m. after a night out.

Try to go to class as much as you can, even if the professor says attendance isn’t mandatory. And professors are usually a lot more approachable than they seem, so don’t be scared of going to office hours! Don’t drown yourself in schoolwork your first quarter, and don’t expect yourself to adjust smoothly. You probably won’t, which is totally okay! College is hard. Be nice to yourself.

Lastly, indulge in the annoyingness of being a first year. You only get one year to be that annoying and have an excuse for it! It’s fun and scary and a once in a lifetime experience — and before you know it, it’ll be over. 

Good luck.

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Keita Kobayashi, Assistant Photo Editor
Pre-Med-er from Maryland
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