Whether you’ve lived in Wilmington your entire life or have just flown in from somewhere around the globe, the first week of college is usually a mix of fear and excitement. To help make your adjustment as painless as possible, we had some seasoned upperclassmen from Overflow think through what they wished they had known as incoming freshmen. You’ll find some “nuggets of wisdom” that they picked up and had to learn on our own personal Wilmy journey. We hope that their experiences help you to ease your way into college and allow you to enjoy the beginning of this new chapter of life to the fullest! Here we go!!
1. In Wilmington, when it rains, it pours. The odds of being wet when you enter a class are about 90% not in your favor- especially in August and September. The reality is that you will probably either be soaked from rain or dripping in sweat after traveling across campus. But don’t let this dampen your spirit! Everything will be OK because everyone has been there (it’s almost a rite-of-passage in ILM). It teaches you to live successfully with whatever life throws at you (even if it’s mass amounts of sweat or rain on your new super dope outfit). You cannot change the weather, but you can be prepared. Investing in a good rain jacket, always carrying an umbrella, or sticking a grocery bag in your backpack for your bike seat can take you a LONG way in Wilmington.
2. If you’re living in the dorms, keep your door open! It is such an easy way to build comradery on your floor. It lets others know you’re free for an impromptu adventure, a nice chat, or even help with your homework. By opening your door, you let those friends into your life!
3. Coffee might be your new best friend. Learn how it affects your body and your mind (all the positive and negative effects) and then use it to your full advantage. #coffeeisbae
4. In high school, napping might have seemed lame. In college, naps are essential. You may laugh now, but sometime in the future you will find yourself in a desperate place. It’s even okay to catch a few z’s in the library. And let it be known, those tan ottomans in the middle of the library are superb for a little curl up. #Randallisalsobae
5. College is all about learning. It’s about opening up and understanding how to interact with others, it’s about learning more about yourself (this never ends because you are constantly growing!) and, let’s not forget, school is also about cramming your brain with educational information. What you will find is that it’s all about a balance. No one said it was going to be easy, but make sure you take time to fully develop each trait. The thing is that you cannot successfully interact with others until you know who you are and begin to understand your identity. The only place to do that is with Jesus. The world is a desolate place without the hope, love, redemption, and adventure of Jesus. And you never know it until you spend time with Him. He is fierce love. And when He tells you who you are—that is when you can fully impact the world and its inhabitants successfully. Surround yourself with others that also seek Him.
6. Make sure you branch out and try new things! You don’t have to be the best at something to wholeheartedly enjoy it—try something you’ve never heard of or have always wanted to do i.e. slacklining, student government, longboarding, an honors project, ultimate Frisbee, art club, photography, or even spikeball. To see all of the awesome clubs that are on campus, make sure you check out the Involvement Carnival that happens at the beginning of the semester. Not to mention you come away with a bunch of free stuff!!
7. Advice: go to class. You can now skip with generally no visible penalty (except those 2 miss, drop a letter grade teachers—woof, those are harsh). But you’re paying for them and it’s amazing how much you can soak up by actually listening to a teacher—even if they seem as dry as the Gobi desert (believe me, I’ve had those ones) you can still learn from them. It’s a great time to practice faithfulness and perseverance.
8. Since we’re on the topic of listening, learn how to actively listen. You cannot successfully listen with your earbuds in or with iPhone in hand. Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” It’s increasingly difficult to remain in the present with easy escape into Instagram or your favorite artist’s new hit album. But it is simply escape. Choose to be in the present moment. Listen as you walk down Chancellor’s—listen to the birds, the noisy construction, the surrounding laughter. And then choose to listen when others speak. When they speak, hear their words and pay attention to their meaning. Remember someone’s name. When you listen, you tell others they are important and you learn an incredible amount about the people and world around you. You have been placed into your environment with other humans that you may connect, learn, and grow with them. Do it with open ears.
9. Connect with others. On Chancellor’s, I often use the “yell and smile” technique. Feel free to steal my style or cultivate your own. In the classroom, the “yell and smile” technique doesn’t go nearly as well. I like to stick with “average voice and friendly vibe” for indoor settings. Once you’re there, introduce yourself to the professor (before or after class, not during)– they’re human just like you and by creating that connection you build a nice rapport. Also, speak to the people that sit next to you. There technically aren’t assigned seats, but you quickly find out that everyone picks their spot early on and keeps it for the semester, so make friends with those around you. It makes classes better.
10. Explore Wilmington. Whether it’s an adventure walk around campus, a visit to the secret mailbox on Wrightsville, or a picnic dinner on the parking deck roof downtown, make time for fun and exploring your city. Take advantage of living in one of the most beautiful places in the country! (Did you know that USA Today rated Wilmington as the best Riverfront city in the United States?!) As Russell from Up so eloquently spoke, “Adventure is out there!!” So get out there and experience it. (Also, check out #OverflowNC on Instagram!)
11. Don’t buy books until after your first day of class. There are exceptions of course, like when the prof threatens in the syllabus to have your book by the first day of class “or else.” But more often than not, I have bought a useless book. If this thought causes you anxiety, it’s fine… you can buy them 3 months in advance. Just please… buy them used and online.
12. Learn the basic local eating spots. Islands for dollar tacos. P.T.’s for burgers. Causeway for breakfast. Cook-Out for milkshakes (ok so it’s not local but it’s a college student essential). You’re welcome.
13. Don’t worry about messing up! You are going to make mistakes, but that’s quite alright!! It’s going to take a while to figure out where your classes are and where to be and how to do everything right– cut yourself some slack, no one is expecting you to be perfect! Plus, everyone else is so busy trying to get to their own classes on time that they won’t notice if you walk into the wrong class or even the wrong building. Remember to enjoy yourself! Take it all in. As a kid, I always remember adults saying that time speeds up the older you get; I honestly thought they were all insane, but in an unfortunate twist of events they all turned out to be right. Freshman year will fly by, and you are going to be packing your room up before you know it. Take time to notice the small things and savor every moment!
It is our great hope that you found some useful Wilmy-life hacks and that we made you think about some of the deeper things happening at this stage in your life. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but more like a nice, succinct survival guide brochure. Take our wisdom as you will; glean from our mistakes and discoveries. And when you find yourself in a blunder or you unearth your own hidden gems of helpful information, remember to share them with a freshman next year. 🙂