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College Orientation: Navigating the First Day

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Making friends can help you get through orientation.

Making friends can help you get through orientation.

The first day of college orientation can be pretty stressful. Moving into dorms, dealing with a new roommate, trying to impress professors, saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, juggling meetings, remembering your paperwork — all this while trying to "be cool" and make friends. It can be pretty overwhelming! Here are some things I learned in my journey that can help make your first day a little less overwhelming.

Make a friend.

The first thing I learned is that it's critical to have a friend. Any friend. Having someone to grab dinner with makes the first night a lot less lonely. Everyone is nervous the first day, so speak up! Find someone you have something in common with (even if it's something silly, like you both have curly hair). Then introduce yourself. I met my friend Jessica this way and we are good friends to this day. The first-dinner-in-college bond can be pretty special.

Set expectations with your parents... and your friends.

I learned to set expectations with my parents, too. My mom has a tendency to "hover," and I knew she would call me every hour, on the hour if she could. When you're saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, tell them that you'll call home, and give them a time to expect the call. Then make sure you do. By showing your parents that you are reliable, you can ease their nerves and have more freedom to enjoy your first day.

The same goes for friends from home. Orientation is about building new relationships. Just for orientation week, I decided to step back from texting and Facebook. (Try keepmeout to limit social media. It's also a great tool for finals week!) This gave me more time to focus on meeting new people. Your friends are probably busy with their own pre-college plans, so they will understand. Plan a Skype date after college orientation to catch up!

Throw caution to the wind.

I'm normally not very spontaneous at all — I carry my planner everywhere — but I found that the best networking occurs outside of the structured orientation events. I met three fellow chemistry majors at a mandatory meeting, and we ended up going out for ice cream, which lead to a movie night, which lead to a late night geek-out in the science lounge. These people are now my biggest support system (going through organic chemistry together can make you pretty close).

Yes, orientation can seem a little intimidating. But just remember: every single person there is in the exact same situation. So, just go with the flow, and take every new experience as it comes. It's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Photo source: Tulane Public Relations