Collegebound Network

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My First 6 Days of College

For your education and entertainment, I offer you the memoirs from my first days of college life as a freshman at the University of Richmond, located, coincidentally, just outside of Richmond, Virginia.

Day 1 - Move-in Day
The first thing you see when you drive through the gates of the University of Richmond is a giant blue spider (the mascot) painted on the road. The next thing you notice is that the campus looks just like some swanky country club. The arachnid in pretty surroundings marked the official beginning of my college career, but I must say that no magical collegiate feeling swept over me at the time.

Things were so busy the first day that there was no opportunity to savor what was happening. I located my dorm room and met my roommate, things I had been looking forward to for months, in dizzying succession. To my approval, my roomie seemed cool and our living quarters were actually larger than I had expected, but there was no time to gloat. Within minutes we were moving things into the room and rearranging furniture. All day long, little things like cinder blocks, extension cords, and more fans (our room is like a wind tunnel now) had to be acquired. It finally sank in later that evening at the official greeting for new students in the basketball stadium. To get in the door you had to walk up a long ramp lined with dozens of orientation advisors screaming greetings at the top of their lungs. I thought this was all a little strange at first, but walking through that wall of thunderous sound turned out to be an experience I will never forget. I had arrived.

Day 2 - The Parents Leave for Good
While I love my parents very much, I was getting a little tired of the obvious comments like "Oh, that must be the lake" as they pointed to the giant lake that dominates the campus. So, when it was time for them to leave Richmond for good, I was looking forward to the greater independence. The hardest part of saying goodbye was being very excited about staying but knowing my parents were rather sad about having to leave me behind. But, with a few hugs from my mom and one from my dad, it was all over.

The rest of the day there was little independence to be found, unfortunately, as the orientation schedule gained intensity. The vast majority of our time during the first week would be spent at mandatory meetings and getting-to-know-you events. Still, one can't complain about getting to meet new people. As I learned my way around campus, I was struck by the friendliness of the guys and especially by how attractive all the young ladies were. It's been said that everyone at Richmond looks like they're out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad; so far this seems strangely true.

Day 3 - My First Trip to Town
My two orientation advisors (both sophomores) decided they would drive my orientation group into town to find some clothes for tomorrow's big '70s dance. The best place to find '70s clothes, of course, is at the thrift store, so that is where we headed. After much searching, I found some reasonably priced bright blue slacks, and I went to the dressing room to try them on. I was happy to see that they fit, but when I came out of the dressing room I was rather disturbed to find not a trace of the group. I looked to the window and saw the two cars we had arrived in about to pull out of the parking lot. I did the only thing I could -- throw the clothes into the air and sprint out the door at full speed. Luckily, someone spotted me and opened a back door, just as the cars began to accelerate. I jumped in quite heroically at the last second and tragedy was averted. Apparently, the group I was with thought I had ditched them and gone in the other car.

The excitement wasn't over, however, as minutes later a loud crunch shook the moving vehicle. Another automobile had merged directly into the side of us, and, while everyone was all right, both cars sustained minor damage. The Richmond police seemed rather slow about their business, and 30 minutes later we were still standing around the car as the officer did his work. I was due at a meeting on campus with my academic advisor, so I bummed a ride off of some other Richmond student driving down the street.

Day 4 - The '70s Dance
This was my first Saturday on campus, but it hardly seemed like the weekend. Meetings were scheduled throughout the day, and grumblings among my classmates were growing louder. Everyone was beginning to feel that the orientation program had run its course, and I felt the same. The strangest thing about college was the surreal feeling of being in a completely social environment for days on end. Making hundreds of new acquaintances is good, but we had been doing it for some time now and everyone was anxious to find out who their real friends would turn out to be. Most people I talked to said they were looking forward to classes starting on Monday and getting into a routine.

Now, that's not to say that the evening's big dance wasn't well appreciated. Most of the '70s music turned out to be early '80s music, but the crazy costumes everyone arrived in made up for everything. I even managed to acquire some fine orange pants and a bright shirt despite my previous difficulties in town. After the dance, I'm sure parties roared on late into the night, but the week's lack of sleep suddenly caught up with me all at once and the rest of my evening was spent soundly asleep in bed.

Day 5 - A Day of Rejuvenation
Sunday was a great day. I woke up late after going to bed early, and felt completely refreshed. This gave me the energy to attend the late morning church service, and I was glad I went. The sermon was all about being an individual and not letting others dictate how you live your life, and it applied very closely to a new college student such as myself. Afterward I had brunch with some friends, and the rest of the day was spent watching movies, playing pool, and attending a meeting or two.

Doesn't sound that exciting, you say? It wasn't, and that was exactly what I needed. The first few days at college I was always running around and feeling like I was missing something if I wasn't doing anything exhilarating. Now I was pacing myself, and everything began to feel a little more like home.

Day 6 - Classes Begin
The main reason I actually went to college was to get an education, so I was eager to see what the classes would be like. I walked into my first of two classes on Monday, Military Science 101, and was greeted by a tough-looking man dressed in an army uniform. Most of the students around me were scholarship ROTC members; I was here because I want to be a combat journalist and think the military stuff would be valuable to know. I felt a little intimidated at first, but the instructor turned out to be a nice guy and the activities he described like rappelling from a helicopter and navigating the grenade assault course sounded like fun.

My other class of the day was a little more traditional, Elementary Symbolic Logic. Basically, if all swans are white and Charlie was a swan, we had to know that Charlie was also white. The class was informed we would get homework every day, but again the instructor seemed like a nice guy. My work was finished by 1 p.m., and I took it easy the rest of the afternoon.

Epilogue
I can only say that the longer I've been at college the more I like it. The first few days were tiring, both physically and emotionally, but that's probably to be expected. My best advice to incoming freshmen is to take everything slow in the beginning, and if things don't start off great, know that orientation is a lot different than the real thing. And, oh yeah, don't put new towels in with other laundry -- the dye could run.


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