The Hipster Freshman: A “How To” Guide on Being the Savviest New Kid Around

Being hipster is cool right now.  Don’t do what everyone else is doing.  Be one step ahead of the game.  Do something trendy before it becomes trendy.   And if you’re a true hipster, this applies to every area of your life.  It comes with ease.   But nothing tests the hipster soul more than that one sacred rite of passage.  College.

I’m not talking any kind of college experience.  I’m talking the freshman college experience.  You just graduated high school.  You were a senior.  The top dog.  You were the coolest of the cool.  You were aloof.  And now you’re off to embark on a new journey.  You’re going to do it right.  You’re striking off on your own without the parental units.  You’re establishing your identity.  Watch out life.  Here comes… you!

But how can you be “the new kid in town” without sticking out like a sore thumb?  How do you blend in?  How can you avoid being…. well… This guy.
Image

Being someone who has gone through the freshman orientation process twice (that’s what you get for transferring after your first semester), and has been an orientation leader every semester since, I think I can offer some solid advice to the (high school) Class of 2013 on how to be cool, how to smoothly glide into campus life, and how to blend in even as a freshman.  Because to be perfectly and brutally honest, you’re not as impressive as you were in high school anymore.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t special, or loved, or unique.  It just means all those “top dog” points you’ve been used to having… They’ve been wiped clean.

But before you read any of this… Remember, we were all freshman at some point.   The reason we can spot these things is because we all did them. Being a freshman isn’t a problem.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Your campus is excited to have you.   So why would someone need a “how to guide” on how to not be an obvious freshman?  The things freshmen do that make them so obviously a freshman are things that clog up the system.   They slow down everyday life on campus.  They cause traffic to stop, lines to gather, and pedestrian collisions.  It’s not a problem to be a freshman, it’s just a good idea to try to slide into the campus life as quickly and smoothly as possible as to not inconvenience the people around you too much.  So consider this a guide to transitioning into the daily college flow.

With that being said, here is my best advice!

Your lanyard

Image

I get it.  It’s cool.  It’s convenient.  But don’t.   Don’t wear it with the lanyard hanging out of your pocket.  Don’t you dare wear it around your neck.  Or worse… wear it with around your neck with your keys and ID on it.  This is the #1 sure-fire way to spot a freshman.  This isn’t so much a functionality “flow of campus” kind of situation.  It just screams “FRESHMAN!” and if you’re trying to avoid that, stuff that lanyard in your pocket for no one to see.


Campus Maps

Image

Campus is new.  There are so many buildings.  But if you’re walking around with a map of campus?  You look like a tourist at disney land.   Do yourself a favor and snap a picture of the campus map on your smart phone.  No one questions someone looking at their phone.  And if you’re lost, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Groups

Image

Gee, I’d love to get to class faster, but this huge group of people is taking up the entire walkway.  I wonder if they’re freshmen?  Of course they are!  Freshmen tend to travel in packs.  It’s all those best friends they’ve made, ya know?  I like to call it a “flock of freshmen.”   If you make a lot of friends, that’s great.  As a senior, most of the people I’m friends with now were not the people I hung out with my freshmen year.  But that’s not to say that a social life is not vital to your college experience.  I’m glad you’re making friends, but please.  Do not walk in huge groups.  And if you do, walk on the grass.  Not on the road or the sidewalks.   My college has one main road that runs through campus and the shuttles from the apartment buildings drive on this road.  But for some reason the freshmen every year think that road is a giant side walk for them and their friends.   What’s worse is the freshmen who do not MOVE OFF THE ROAD when the shuttle comes.  Like seriously, don’t block traffic.  Ever.  Make friends.  Hang out in groups.  JUST DON’T BLOCK THE ROAD.

Talking About High School

Image

You may have been the only captain of the varsity basketball team in high school… but at this school, there are dozens of other students who were the captain of their varsity sports team as well.  You got into the same college as everyone around you, there’s no need to brag about your SAT or ACT score.  Please leave your Letterman jacket at home (I love mine too – the picture above is actually my Letterman jacket – but that phase of life is over).  Maybe tell those “funny high school memory” stories a couple times.  But if your RA knows the names of your 5 closest high school friends by the end of orientation, you need to shut up about high school.  It’s not to devalue your high school experience.  It’s not that it wasn’t important.  You just have to understand that your high school experience is not your college experience.  It isn’t the reality you’re living in any more.  And it’s not an experience that your peers share with you.  Reminiscing is great and don’t be afraid to talk about high school now and then, but people will get bogged down if that’s the only thing you want to talk about.

Trays

Image

Note: This may be something that is exclusive to my university.  Not every school goes by this standard.

A few years back, the student government at my school decided to take a green initiative at my school.  They encouraged everyone to stop using trays in the cafeteria so there would be less dishes to wash.   And it worked.  People stopped using trays.  But the trays are still there.  So every year, when the freshmen come to campus.  They see the trays at the front of the cafeteria and they grab one.  This clogs up the lines, slows down the process, and keeps everyone away from their food that much longer.  There are very few things as scary as hungry grumpy people.  Do yourself and the people around you a favor, and don’t get a tray.   If you don’t go to my school, your best bet is to watch the RA’s and see what they’re doing.  Simple as that.  Trays at my university are one of the fastest ways to spot a freshman.  The only other people who carry trays are visitors and that elderly professor who wears a bow tie every day. (He’s my favorite).

So there you have it.  Those are my 5 pieces of advice to avoid being an obvious freshman.   Remember, it’s not a problem to be a freshman.  It’s just important that you’re transitioning into the campus community quickly.  You want to fit in and be welcomed.  The best way to do that is to show the upperclassmen that you’re thinking about a little more than just yourself.  If you do the things I mentioned to avoid being an inconvenience, you’ll quickly gain respect from those people around you.  And don’t forget, this is exciting!  You’re going into college!  You’re starting your adult life.  Have fun with it!

2012 is Greater Than 2011… Mathematically Speaking: A Review of My Life This Year

Well, here we are at the end of the year.  The time that everyone looks back and reflects…and then looks forward and freaks out because its 2012 and the world is going to end this December!  Haha, kidding.  But being that it is a time to reminisce, reflect, and remember, I thought I might write a post on all that has happened this year.  It has been one of the most life changing years I have ever seen, therefor I think it deserves a post.

First off, let’s talk about how the world has changed.
-We started the year with the Egyptian revolution and Libyan protests.
-Then followed that with earthquake in New Zealand and tsunami in Japan.
-Fidel Castro resigned after 45 years in power.
-Rebecca Black went viral.
-Prince William got married.
-Osama Bin Laden died.
-Oprah Winfrey aired her last show.
-The NFL lockout happened… and thankfully ended.
-We reached the 10 year anniversary of September 11th.
-Kim Kardashian made a joke of marriage with her 10 million dollar wedding and her 72 days of marital “bliss.”
-New Zealand got another earthquake.
-Norway fell victim to terrorist attacks.
-The Occupy Wall Street movement started.
-Steve Jobs died.
-The U.S. Ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
-Turkey got an earthquake.
-The war in Iraq was officially ended.
-And Kim Jung Il died.

Between big figures both cultural and political, terrorists attacks, earthquakes, and revolutions, this year seems to be filled with a lot of death.  It’s actually very sad looking at it in review.

My life?  Well, I didn’t die, but a lot sure happened.

I started off the year with a sleep study to figure out why the heck I couldn’t stay awake during the day and couldn’t fall asleep at night.  The study did not provide any answers… but I did get free jimmy johns and the opportunity to look like the borg for a day.

I also attended my last counseling session (of the year, you never know when you’ll be back… I think probably soon).  I was very grateful for the work of my counselor.  She helped me come to terms with where I was, where I wanted to be, and how to get there.   I think counseling is something that most people should consider because of how beneficial it is, no matter how small or “controllable” your problems may seem.  You’ll read more about why I was in counseling later in the post.

My doctor started me on a new medication. It’s an anti-depressant that helps me stay awake.  My life has changed drastically since starting that (and taking melatonin at night).  I will never turn my nose up at medicines.  My mood, my sleep, and my overall wellness have improved greatly.

And my last notable event from the beginning of the year is my laptop!  I bought this machine that I’m typing on right now and have not been happier with a product.  Well, the speakers could be a little louder… haha.

That was all pretty much the first half of January.  Then at the end of January I moved to Philadelphia and transferred into a university out here on the east coast.  New city, new school, new life.

A couple weeks into starting at this school I decided to go veg and have not turned back since.  I also noticed a huge improvement in my wellness from living a vegetarian lifestyle.  It’s really been a benefit to my health.

I also started dating someone this year, Sohil.  Although we aren’t together anymore, it was refreshing to be in a relationship with someone who actually respected me.  I learned a lot about myself and what I want for my life.  Plus, he introduced to one of my newest obsessions… Bollywood!  It was my first interracial relationship and it was definitely an experience getting to learn a different culture and value system, try new foods, and just see how people responded to us.  Without him, I also probably never would have really gone vegetarian, so that was a definite bonus.  It also was my first (and I plan on it being the last) interfaith relationship I’ve ever been in.  He always supported me in my faith, but even just the little things made me realize how crucial it is to have the same faith.  And to all of you whom I lied to by saying he was a Christian, I am very sorry.  I was scared of your judgment and tired of the constant lectures I was getting. It was easier to say that than to explain myself.  This relationship taught me the value of having Christ at the center of relationships, which is a lesson I needed to feel and experience in order to learn it, instead of just “knowing” and being told it.

This year I was in my first musical: Little Women!  It was a great way for me to meet new people on campus and was a very rewarding experience.  I played a small role, did some extra work, and helped out backstage.  It was amazing how much music added to the emotion and life of the play.  Definitely something I learned a lot from.  AND my singing technique improved a lot.  I went from about a 2 octave vocal range to a 3. I’d say that’s a plus.

I have also dyed my hair 11 different shades/ways this year.
-Brown in February.
-Bleached for the play.
-Second bleaching for the play.
-An ashy blonde dye for the play.
-A more golden color to try to match my natural hair color.
-A red peek-a-boo dye that was supposed to be brown.
-A mahogany color.
-The bright red color I have sported for most of this year.
-A darker version of the red for a more permanent color with a wintery feel.
-Some brighter red into that faded dark red color
-And some bleached streaks in my hair (but that one’s not as noticeable).
If you are surprised that my hair hasn’t fallen out yet… don’t be.  The bleachings for the play fried my hair and I had to cut a lot.  And the red dye I use is a vegetable dye, not chemical.  So it actually conditions my hair instead of destroying it.

I reached the 1 year mark post-op for my knee.  A really weird feeling knowing that happened and knowing it was a year ago.  My scar, which used to be a purplish color that I hated and tried to cover with makeup, is now faded to my normal skin tone… it’s just a large line of different textured skin with some spot scars around my knee where they made small incisions.  And the good news is, a year and a half later I can finally say I have regained feeling in my leg.  Well, mostly.  There are still some places on my shin that I can’t feel temperatures and the place on my knee that the doctors told me I would never have feeling in again, but it’s good to no longer feel like I’m walking around with a wooden leg.

I ended my first semester at my new school and came home for the summer, where I got hooked on a cooking craze.  Rainbow pancakes, jello molds, miso soup, pot pies, and even baked Alaska.   I went a little overboard, but it definitely was a fun treat.

This summer I also got to see my crew of friends from my first college, Winona.  It was great to see them and to feel what it was like being “Kelso” again.

At the end of the summer me and my dad got in my red ford Taurus with the yellow sven and ole’s bumper sticker on the back, which I have lovingly named Caesar (and usually say the Hispanic version of that name), and drove half way across the country.  Minnesota to Pennsylvania.  It took two days of driving, and we drove through 6 states, but we did it.  And it was quite the experience.

Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, I moved into my first apartment with my roommates.  It was my first time having “my” kitchen and “my” living room shared with people who are not relatives.

Then I helped out on the Orientation Team at my school.  Part of me wonders if the actual orientation part was as fun as the training.  Being a part of Student Life was so much fun.  And getting to know the new freshmen and watch them integrate into the community was really cool.

Oh… The thing about Orientation weekend was that Hurricane Irene came through, so schedules got messed up and I experienced my first hurricane.  My first earthquake had been a few days before… but I didn’t even feel it so I don’t think that counts.  The fun part of it is that Irene started to show up just as I was leading my orientation group around Philly… We got kind of wet.

Ooo!  Another first.  One weekend I flew home and was waiting for my mom to pick me up at the airport.  While I was waiting I opened up my laptop and started working on a project, then I saw my mom’s van and got up to go meet her… only she didn’t know which door I was at and kept driving.  So I started running with my carry-on bag in tow and my laptop still opened in my arms to catch her before she drove off too far.  Running, running, turns out I’m a pretty fast runner, because I ran into an automatic door.  Yeah, I was going that fast that the door didn’t see me and started to close from the person who had walked through it before me.  Best part about it?  When I ran into the automatic door, it hit my arm upwards, sending the top of my laptop screen at my nose.  That’s right people, my first broken nose. from running into an automatic door.   But this nose break isn’t like how you guys are thinking.  It was actually the underside of my nose.  And recently it’s starting to hurt again, but I digress… first broken nose.

Now I said that being a part of Student Life WAS so much fun… I should probably fix that, because this year I got a job with Student Life.  My technical title is Student Programs Worker, but the best way to describe what I do is event coordination.  I get to continue to be a part of Student Life by working in the office and planning events like our hoedown and the campus Christmas celebration.  It can be a very taxing job, but it is fun and well worth it.  It truly is a blessing for me to work there.

This year I had another first as well: my first Thanksgiving without my parents.  I went to spend Thanksgiving in South Carolina with my grandparents on my mom’s side and my sister.  It was interesting not being at home and not having the same recipes, but definitely a great experience getting to be with my grandparents and sister without the whole gang.  I just got to have them to myself.  I had a great time.  Different, but undoubtedly good.

——

————

——

I would have to say that my two biggest changes this year would be in the mental and the social department.  As I mentioned in my last post about my song, I have a mental disorder- specifically, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   It’s a type of anxiety disorder, not temporary like an acute stress reaction and a lot more specific than just “anxiety.”  It was mid-December 2010 that I was told that I have this, so 2011 has been figuring out myself through that lens.  At first it was really, really bad, but around late February it started getting easier, my symptoms weren’t as pronounced, and I was beginning to think it was going away.  Sure, I had little flare ups here and there over the spring and summer, but for the most part I felt like I was “back to normal.”

Then it really got serious this fall, hence the really depressing posts from October and November.  It’s been really difficult.  I want to convince myself that I am strong enough to overcome it and that I can put it behind me, but this isn’t something that just goes away. It’s something that sticks around.  And yes, it won’t be as frequently bothersome or as strong in years down the road, but I have to accept that it’s still going to be there.  It’s an aspect of my life that I can’t control (cue the perfect plug for faith in God’s will and plan for my life).  I’ve had to resign myself to thinking of it not as something I overcome, but something I become a master at coping with.  That’s something I’ve really been working on as of late, accepting it as a part of my story and who I am, and learning how to deal with the symptoms.

So be patient with me, because I treat people like crap.  When my symptoms set in, it’s a complete 180.   The easiest thing is to just not have expectations, because I will exceed them one day and not even come close to meeting them the next.  I’m not asking for excuses, I’m just asking you to be understanding.

——

————

——

 The change in my social life has been a big help in the mental department.  If you know me well, you would know that generally I make friends with guys and pretty much only guys. My entire high school career I was only ever friends with one female at a time and then a bunch of boys.  And don’t get me wrong, guys are great.  But I NEEDED more estrogen in my life.  Going to college, I made friends with some girls, but not many and not close friendships.   The only close female friend I had was my partner in crime, Jenny, from high school.  But as amazing as Jenny is, I knew I couldn’t rely on just one female in my life, especially going to school out of state.

So I prayed for more girls in my life.  And what do you know, God does provide!  This semester I met two ladies who have been very influential, active, and encouraging in my life: A’Driane and Tori.  (I mean if you really must know I became friends on facebook with A’Driane on September 14th and Tori on September 27th. Sometimes I have to add in a touch of quirky Kelsey and inform you of completely useless stuff…) I really haven’t known them for that long, but they are two of my closest friends.  And what a relief that they are females, haha.  They’re down to earth, they know how to have a good time, they give me practical advice, and they don’t let me get away with any B.S.  It’s been especially helpful having A’Driane’s encouragement in owning my story and accepting life with PTSD.   I really have been blessed this year to have them, and it amazes me that it’s only been 3 months that we’ve really known each other.  I can’t imagine my life without those two.

——

————

——

It’s amazing to me, looking back to one year ago.  I did not yet go to my school or know any of my east coast friends, I was just a fledgling in my life with PTSD, I was still happily munching on bdubs boneless chicken wings, and I knew so little about myself.  With the help of Sohil, A’Driane, Tori, many others, and a few good panic attacks this semester, I have come to a place where I understand who I am so much better.  The way I function finally makes sense to me, and I’m learning to embrace my identity.

For those of you who knew me back in the day, I still have the same sense of humor, I still like the same music, and I still have that really weird personality that can’t identify with any group of people… but I am not who I was.  It’s bittersweet, ya know?  I miss that girl that I was, but I am at peace and confident in the woman I’m becoming.  And I can finally call myself a woman without feeling awkward seeing as I will no longer be a teenager this January… That’s kind of scary, but mostly not because I really don’t feel like a “teenager” anyways.  Can my 20th birthday just get here already???

So adios to my childhood, my preteen years, my teenage years, and my awkward first years of college discovering who I am.  Meet Kelsey.  The adult.  The chick with the red hair.  That person that just crawled out of her room for a cup of tea to calm her nerves after a run in with her PTSD.  The Kelsey who FINALLY has friends who are female!  That girl you don’t want to cross the wrong way, ‘cause she can have a sassy attitude just like her Grandma.   The one who won’t let you get away with an offensive comment.  The counseling major who will hopefully be getting her masters three years from now. And the Kelsey who is emerging into a new stage in her life.

OH!  Speaking of three years… guess who will have a clean driving record for three years this New Year’s Eve.  That’s right.  No more bad driver comments people!

In conclusion, I just want to thank you all for the support and friendship you’ve shown me.  It’s been a confusing year of a lot of “firsts” and “new” and it’s been good to have new friends open their arms to me, and old friends being my support back home.

So… Here’s to 2012!