College Life 101

The Spectrum

Her nerves fluttered in her stomach as she carried boxes into her new dorm room. Thoughts began to fill her mind. What if her roommate was creepy?

He was putting on a brave face but he couldn't help but dread that he was going to be on his own for the first time. What if his boxers turned pink in the laundry?

Both were freshmen students, both were unsure if they would make it out of their first year alive.

Both did more than just survive.

College offers many new experiences - some good and some bad. No matter what fears plague some students when they first step foot on campus, they leave freshman year stronger, smarter and with an ability to conquer their remaining years at UB. There are certain things that freshmen students should take into consideration before taking the next step in their lives.

One aspect of college life that many incoming freshman have difficulty with is the adjustment to living with another person. Some people choose to live with a friend from home or someone they met on Facebook, and others choose to be placed with someone completely random. But whoever it is, living with someone else in a small dorm room takes some getting used to, according to Chelsea Wheeler, a sophomore exercise science and psychology major.

"At home, I had my own room with my own space so the adjustment was very weird," Wheeler said. "As the year went on, I got to know [my roommate] more and more, and even began to consider her to be one of my greatest friends. In the end, I don't know what I would have done without my roommate."

Wheeler was placed with a random roommate who she had never spoken to prior to move-in day. Wheeler was worried that since she opted to live in Roosevelt Hall, with the other honors college freshmen, that her roommate would be "nerdy."

However, as time went on she realized that being part of honors housing gave her a place to start making friends that were similar to her. It made one large school into a smaller community, which was exactly what she needed in order to adjust, she said.

Ben Robinson, a sophomore pharmacy major, had a not-so-perfect roommate experience. He chose to room with a friend from high school. What seemed like a good idea at first turned into a problem for Robinson and his social life.

"I knew my roommate from high school, which made it hard to really meet people," Robinson said."Once he moved out second semester, though, I was really able to establish several pretty solid groups of friends, which made the spring much more enjoyable. If could change anything about freshman year, I would've tried harder to meet people in the first couple of months."

Life in the dorms may cause difficulties in time management for some students who make spending time with their new friends a higher priority than studying, according to Joe Malak, a sophomore biomedical sciences major.

"Living with friends was tough because there was always something to do at night instead of studying," Malak said. "It is important to avoid leaving everything to the last minute. The days before finals were very rough for me with hours of excruciating cramming. I barely squeaked by with As in my classes."

Malak now understands the importance of managing his time. His trick is to have scheduled study time and scheduled time with his friends.

Some find that studying in the dorms is impossible because of the many distractions, but there are many places on campus where students can go to be free of interruptions. Some of the most common spots include two libraries on North Campus - Lockwood Memorial Library and Capen Library - and the Health Sciences Library located on South Campus.

Libraries aren't the only study destination, though. Students who prefer a little noise when they study can be found anywhere from Starbucks to the Student Union to the tables in the Natural Sciences Complex.

Each student is different and it's important to figure out what study habits work best early on in the semester before the best spots are filled during midterm season.

"My biggest piece of advice would be to find your specific place to study," Malak said. "I just found mine during the last week of college. Make sure no other distractions can enter that place. You should always have that place you can count on to knock down the hardcore content."

For Wheeler, that place was the laundry room.

Laundry at college has the potential of becoming a very time consuming process, so Wheeler took the occasions to seclude herself from her friends and get some work done.

"I never did my own laundry before coming to school," Wheeler said. "I actually really liked doing laundry. I would pack up my clothes and take my backpack down to the laundry room and would get a ton of work done. I never messed up any loads, although I did lose a sock or two."

Before entering college, Wheeler had her mom teach her the many do's and do not's of the laundry process. It gave her confidence in her ability to not ruin any of her clothes in the foreign machines.

For other freshmen, the idea of doing laundry by themselves was a daunting process. Robinson expected laundry to be one of the most difficult parts of being away from home.

"I was nervous about having to wash my own clothes," Robinson said. "I didn't want to turn anything pink. However, laundry overall wasn't too bad. It was hard to find a time when machines were open. Since [the washers and dryers] were unreliable, they would break a lot, which made my life difficult. But it was just something I had to deal with."

Another important aspect of college is extracurricular activities. There are many clubs at UB for an assortment of interests: sports clubs, academic clubs, social clubs, cultural clubs, and hyper-specific clubs. If students can't find any clubs that sparks their interest, they can start their own.

Malak signed up for eight clubs in the beginning of his freshman year. As the weeks progressed he dropped some and added others until he found his perfect combination. He was able to have a variety of experiences, which helped make his freshman year an amazing one, according to Malak.

In a school as populated as UB, it is important to find a niche, according to Robinson. He regrets waiting until his spring semester to get involved and find the right friends.

"Whether or not you have a good group of friends can make or break your college experience," Robinson said. "Go introduce yourself to everyone on your floor, try not to be judgmental, and just try to have fun."

College is full of experiences to be had. Some good, some not so good, but it's up to the individual to decide how they will spend their time at UB.