Apartment Living – Freshman Year


by Lulu

“I’m actually living in an apartment with three other girls!”

“Wait, so are you a freshman?”

I completely understand the reasons people may assume I’m not a freshman due to my living circumstances; however, I indeed am a freshman. The reason I’m living in an apartment is because there was a huge number of incoming first year students who wanted to live on campus.

There are only nine residence halls and over 5,700 seeking housing at the U of M – Twin Cities.

Although I applied for housing in early April, I didn’t receive my housing assignment until late August. Even then, I was assigned to expanded living with students much older than me. My family and I felt like the situation wasn’t ideal and would not have been a great match. I was initially bummed about the situation because I was hoping to gain the freshman experience in the dorms and live in “Superblock” where all freshmen live; however, I’m extremely grateful to be living in an apartment in Dinkytown with three amazing roommates.

During the first week on campus, I was reminded of the few disadvantages of being in an apartment. Even though I live right in the heart of Dinkytown, I was placed in a Welcome Week group with commuter students. It wasn’t the best situation, because I was looking forward to meeting other freshmen nearby and this week was designed for that opportunity exactly.

Afterwards, it just wasn’t as easy to meet other freshman friends as it would have been living in the dorms. However, I have definitely found a lot of great friends through various connections as a result of making an effort to meet new people and willingly putting myself out there.

In general, the main difference is being even more independent than living in a dorm. In addition to finding a balance, transitioning into college life, and settling in, I have more responsibilities such as paying for monthly rent and utilities. At first, it was a bit of a foreign concept to have to buy everyday living items like paper towels, toiletries, kitchen appliances, and other similar things; however, in being able to say that I hadn’t had to purchase those items prior is pure privilege. I’m very fortunate to have a meal plan, because I don’t have to worry about cooking and buying groceries.

Don’t get me wrong, though, because living in an apartment has numerous perks that I’m very grateful for.

There is a lot more space, so there wasn’t as much of a concern for packing items and worrying about it all fitting into a cramped dorm room. I have the privilege of having a bathroom with a tub and shower rather than a communal bathroom for the entire floor. Additionally, there is a laundry machine and dryer in my unit, so I don’t have to stress about stolen clothes or waiting my turn.

Overall, I’m living in a great apartment with gorgeous views of the downtown skyline and Dinkytown. I couldn’t be more thankful.

The Transfer Student Transition


by Cara

Sometimes, I feel like I’m a freshman again.

I pronounce the names of campus buildings wrong. I panic when random people ask me for directions to the library. I almost walked into the wrong classroom during the second week of class.

Last month, I started my sophomore year of college and my first semester at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

As you may remember, I attended the University of St. Thomas during my freshman year and decided to transfer because it wasn’t the right fit for me. I hoped to have more academic and social opportunities at the U of M, and so far I am pleased with my experience!

I didn’t have transfer orientation until the end of June. Compared to my freshman year orientation, this year’s orientation was shorter and more focused on class selection. I researched and printed out two schedule options before my orientation, so when I finally met with my academic advisor it was easy to explain what classes I wanted to take.

Since I’m done with the majority the U of M’s general education requirements, every class I’m taking this semester was selected because I wanted to take it. I’m taking the first journalism course required for admission to the major, two political science courses, microeconomics, and a 1-credit, online public health course.

I was able to set up my schedule so that I’m done with class everyday by the early afternoon, and I don’t have any classes on Fridays! Back when I was researching colleges, I always checked if the school offered the majors I was interested in, but I didn’t look in depth at their class offerings.

If you are a student looking at colleges, think about more than just your major!

Does the school offer alternative class arrangements such as online classes or classes held only once a week? I love being able to take two of my classes online. It allows me to work at my own pace and re-watch the course lectures, if I don’t understand the content the first time. Are all students required to take the same general education courses such as Biology 101, or do you get to choose which science course you take? I enjoy having many course options to fulfill the U of M’s requirements.

Freshmen at the U of M have a whole week of activities to welcome them to campus, but transfer students have a smaller offering of events. I went to a few of the events such as one at the student union where there were different free foods to eat and activities to do on each floor.

The main way I’ve made new friends is by meeting friends of my friends! I attended business camp at the U of M’s Carlson School of Management the summer before my senior year of high school, so I already knew students on campus. Since they have already been at the U of M for year, they are able to show me around campus and tell me about the different student groups. I love to go to events held by the many cultural student clubs on campus. We learn something new about another culture and get free food! My favorite event I’ve attend so far is Wam-O-Ram! It was held in the U of M’s Weisman Art Museum. There were free screen printed t-shirts, free pizza, a mini concert, and of course viewing of the numerous art pieces.

As a transfer student it can take a little extra work to make new friends and get involved on campus, but I am pleased with my decision to transfer. I can’t wait to see what other experiences I’ll have during my first semester at the U of M, and I am excited to share them with all of you!

Registration Nation

A brief history of how worried I was about signing up for classes


by Natalie

A long time ago, at the very beginning of this summer, a mere 6 days after graduating from Southwest, I drove up to Moorhead, Minnesota with the ‘rents to register for classes at Concordia College.  I had been emailed a course catalogue a few weeks earlier that I scoured for five minutes, got stressed out about, and put away; never to be looked at again.  I started panicking a little.  Never a good idea.

When I arrived on campus, I was worried that the registration people would be mad at me for not knowing exactly what classes I wanted to take.

I was worried that I wouldn’t get into classes that I needed to take in order to get the degree I’m now working towards.

I was worried about getting all of my generals and a whole bunch of major-specific courses done in my first semester.

I was worried about signing up for a math, a science, a humanities, a language and all of the things I needed for my major.

I was just generally worried.

However, when I went into the Registrar’s Office to get signed up, all of my worry was washed away by the man helping me register.

This man was a theatre professor and I had met him before when I auditioned for a theatre scholarship that winter.  He told me, as I sat down hastily next to him in front of a computer, that I didn’t have to worry about anything at all.  He logged onto my account and looked at what I was already signed up for: a required speech course that I had automatically been assigned.

He signed me up for Intro to Theatre; Materials of Music 1, the music theory course that is currently kicking my butt; Cantabile (the freshman women’s choir); voice and piano lessons; and a history course that I picked out called, “Ancient Gender and Sexuality,” a course that has proven to be more interesting that any of the courses pertaining to my major.  But I digress…

The registration process was effortless and easy and I had to do very little.  I got into a lot of the courses I needed to take this semester and I’m really pleased with how things have been going.  My schedule is hectic, but I love it.  Here’s a snapshot of my schedule:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • 8:30-9:40: Materials of Music 1
  • 9:50-11:40: Work (I have a job as a Theatre Assistant in the scene shop of the theatre.  I build sets.  Or at least, I try to build sets.)
  • 11:50-1:00: Intro to Theatre
  • 1:20-2:30: Intro to Oral Communication
  • 2:30-4:00: Netflix.  Homework and study time
  • 4:00-5:00: Cantabile
  • 5:00-7:00 Dinner and a little down time
  • 7:00-10:00 Les Miserables Rehearsal

Tuesday, Thursday

  • 9:00-11:45: Work
  • 12:00-1:00: Piano and Voice Lessons
  • 1:20-2:30: Ancient Gender and Sexuality
  • 2:30-7:00: Time for Netflix homework and doing laundry and other productive things
  • 7:00-10:00: Les Miserables Rehearsal

It’s chaotic and there’s not a lot of down time but that’s what keeps me from spending hours and hours of my time on Buzzfeed or watching Netflix.  Here’s a little unsolicited advice for when you register for classes:

Don’t worry about getting every class you’ll need to take to graduate into your schedule first semester.  Most colleges sign you up for one semester and then, in four months, you have all new classes and all new credits to earn.  Don’t worry about fitting a math credit, a science credit, a language, three major specific classes, and a required English all into one semester.  You’ll get all of them done in good time.

College is a huge chunk of your life and the staff and faculty are there to help you get into the classes you need to take within that chunk of time.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t feel bad about changing your schedule first semester, either.

I personally didn’t change mine at all but a friend of mine, Rachel, did.  She was a pre-med major for a week and now she’s an English major and changing her classes and her major was, to quote her, “the smoothest process and the best decision.”

The people who work at the colleges are there to help you make it through.  They don’t want to see you fail and neither should you.

Making Friends In College: It’s Okay to Talk to Strangers

Cara and her friends

by Cara

“A month ago I didn’t know you existed and now I’m sitting in your room!” I recently pointed out to one of my new friends at the University of St. Thomas. Making friends at college happens much more quickly than in high school, especially when you live so close to each other.

In high school there isn’t as much time for socializing, except during the time between classes or at lunch. At college there’s plenty of time to see your friends, whether it’s grabbing lunch together, forming study groups, or exploring the surrounding neighborhood. I had met a few other people who would also be attending St. Thomas, but I didn’t have any close friends when I first moved in. The typical questions of “Who will I sit with at lunch?” and “Who will I hang out with on the weekend?” crossed my mind occasionally. I’ve been on campus for over a month now and my fears have certainly eased.

I moved into my dorm four days earlier than most students because I was training to be a Tommie Ambassador. Tommie Ambassadors are a group of St. Thomas students who help high school students learn more about the school through tours, lunch, overnight visits and more.

After our daylong Tommie Ambassador training sessions we had free time. I would always accept offers to hang out with other ambassadors, to watch a movie or just sit around talking. Taking advantage of programs that introduce you to college early is a great way to meet new people. On an almost daily basis I run into students I met during the training. It’s always nice have someone say hello or wave to you on the walk to class.

The people who live in the same building as you do will also quickly become your friends. It’s much easier to hang out with friends who live footsteps away from you rather than planning out in advance whose house you’ll hang out at and how you will get there. Three of the four friends I spend most of my free time with live in my building; two of them live on the same floor, just down the hall from my room.

The first few days my residence hall was fairly quiet because only my fellow Tommie Ambassadors, athletes and Resident Assistants (RAs) had moved in. When all the others moved in that weekend, everyone wanted to introduce themselves, and campus activities made it easy to make new friends. We all attended a cookout in the neighborhood and brunch in the dining hall together. The RAs also thought of ice breakers for us to play, and while the games may seem silly, they really do help you remember each other’s names!

One night after a meeting with everyone on my floor to go over rules for living in the dorm, I thought I would just head back to my room. A few minutes later there was a knock on my door, and outside stood Josephine and Brittany, two girls I had met earlier at the cookout. They invited me to attend the Step Afrika show that was being held in the St. Thomas student center because they recognized my name on the door.

We met the fourth friend when we decided to be outgoing. The day before classes started, all freshman at St. Thomas march through the Arches on campus in matching purple t-shirts to symbolize us joining the Tommie family. When graduation arrives in four years, we will march out of the Arches.

Cara at the St. Thomas Arch with her friends

While eating dinner in the main dining hall that night, Josephine noticed there was a student in a one of our matching purple shirts sitting alone. I was hesitant to agree that inviting a stranger to eat with us was a good idea. Would he think we were lame or weird?

He accepted our offer and ended up spending the rest of the evening going to events on campus with our group. It’s now weeks later and we’re all still friends. An act of kindness and a moment of being outgoing can lead to friendships, so don’t be afraid to say hi to new people.

Just remember that all freshmen are experiencing the same feelings and we all can use a new friend when we’re in a new place.

College is WOW!

UMD freshman students

This is our Class of 2018!

by Ariana

I don’t even know where to begin. It all started with Welcome Week at my school, which is the University of Minnesota – Duluth. I checked in, met my roommate and said goodbye to my family. A LOT was headed my way!

Welcome Week consisted of many events. We were all assigned a room to go to, and then we met our Rockstar, an upperclassman who led a group of about ten of us freshmen. The purpose of the group is to help make new friends right away on campus with our fellow classmates.

I have never experienced such a friendly environment. It really was shocking because I was not expecting to interact with so many people in such a short amount of time. At South High School it was very clique-oriented. People were just so used to staying in their own little bubble of friends and judging you by which category you fit into.

But when you get to college they really push you to get out and meet new people, to get out of that comfort zone that we are all in, which is a lot to take in. But after a while I got used to meeting new people and reaching out to them as well. I remember people spontaneously introducing themselves to me. Even during the pep rally the people I sat next started talking to me.

Dorm life is also really fun! When you leave the door open your floor-mates walk into your room and you chit chat and get to know your neighbors. Even eating in our dining center you can just sit down with new people and maybe make some new friends.

I also found that participating in events and joining clubs helps you meet new people, and the events are really fun and entertaining. This past weekend our “RA” — which is the Resident Adviser for my dorm floor — had us all go play volleyball on Friday night together. It was a lot of fun and I met lots of other new people on the floor that I hadn’t even seen before.

Anyways, the college culture is definitely something you should look forward to experiencing. That is all for now. Thanks for reading!

How to Move In and Survive College Orientation

Guananiby Guanani

Move-in day at Reed College was much more difficult than I anticipated. I had just returned from a lovely pre-orientation backpacking trip and was suddenly thrust into the hustle and bustle of orientation: getting my room set up and unpacked, buying a bicycle (we got hopelessly lost in the process), and starting a long week of required lectures, socializing with hundreds of strangers, and teaching people how to pronounce my name.

It was a disorienting experience.

The first evening was packed with a residence floor meeting to attend, a roommate to meet, freshmen class talks about honorable conduct and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy, and a fire spinning show (which was the coolest part of the day by far).

There was no time to process everything happening around me. I was so bewildered that I wished I could just head back into the mountains and not have to start this whole college thing.

Any major transition is difficult, but college orientation made me feel as clueless and lonely as ever. So here are some tips to help you get through it as smoothly as possible:

Get Comfortable With Introductions

During college meet-and-greet activities, you will find yourself repeating your name and where you’re from constantly. It’s okay if you don’t remember everyone’s name, but be sure to always ask for people’s names again if you forget them. It’s not embarrassing, it’s courteous. And if you do remember someone’s name hours or days after meeting them, use it, and savor the relieved smile on their face.

Become a Pamphlet Connoisseur

There will be pamphlets! All sorts of papers will be handed out at activity fairs, info sessions, and any event offering student resources. Before long you’ll find your room flooded with dead trees.

Instead of tossing the entire pile into the recycling bin during a fit of overwhelm, try to get rid of the papers you don’t need/want as you get them, and keep important ones tucked away in a folder for later.

Don’t worry about parties

During orientation I heard about several crazy parties and how freshmen were already passing out on the first night. Drunk people ambled by and hollered outside my dorm while I tried to sleep.

If you think you need to go out and have a wild time as soon as you set foot on campus, remember that you don’t HAVE to do anything. Take your time finding people you can trust and whose company you enjoy. Start out with low-key activities like playing cards in a dorm lounge or taking a walk around campus. Have fun, don’t go overboard, and remember that there are better ways to make friends than getting drunk.

Don’t Hide!

During orientation I found myself tempted to stay in my room organizing things, doing random stuff on the Internet, emailing friends back home, or just reading a book. But hiding in your dorm is not a good way to make friends (unless your roommate is also hiding).

Go to the activities and events, no matter how cheesy they may seem. Sit down with people at meals. The hardest thing about Orientation is reaching out and trying to connect with a bunch of strangers, some of whom will hopefully be friends that you’re emailing during winter break…

Remember to get off campus

One piece of advice I keep hearing over and over from older students is to get off campus once and a while. On Labor Day, my roommate and I took the train to Washington Park and went on a three-hour hike. It was an enormous relief to escape campus after the intense structure of Orientation, do something outside and engage with our wider surroundings. It’s easy to get trapped on campus by homework and other obligations, so it’s all the more important to get away and refresh your mind while you can.

All change is hard, and the transition into college life is no exception. I felt extremely unprepared and isolated, and had conversations with other incoming students who felt the same way.

After the whirlwind of that first week, classes started, and things fell into a rhythm. Three weeks later, I still miss home, assignments are difficult, and I worry about making friends.

However, I feel a lot more comfortable and less overwhelmed than during orientation. And people are starting to pronounce my name right.

Moving In. Moving On. Moving Up.


by Natalie

The major changes that are made a little easier by the things that stay the same.

On any given Saturday evening you might find me hanging with my homies, on Netflix, or eating exorbitant amounts of cheese popcorn.

On Saturday, August 24, on the other hand, I was doing none of these things as I was whirling around my house: a tornado of anxiety and sheer force leaving a path of folded clothes and empty shelves in my wake.

I was packing.

“Packing for what?” you might ask.

“A lovely tropical all-expense paid vacation to Fiji?”

“A skiing expedition in the Alps?”

“A cross-country tour opening for Katy Perry?”

Not for any of these things but for an adventure much more important by far: College.

The following Sunday morning, when the pickup truck that would become my mode of transportation and the crossover my parents were driving were both packed to the seams, we piled into our respective vehicles and set off for beautiful Concordia College in exotic Moorhead, Minnesota.

My new home.

It was a long four hours as the dusty light of the early morning sun broke through the fog of sleep deprivation and stress to bring me into a new frame of mind as we traversed the wild terrain of I-94.

Upon our arrival on campus, I felt no more doubt or fear or fretfulness. I felt only a tidal wave of excitement and giddiness wash over me as I hopped out of my truck to be greeted all at once by five very attractive young men.

I was guided around the awe-inspiring campus that I now call home to my dorm by one of those strapping lads, Josh. Josh wrangled up a friend of his, Peter, and the two of them set up the bunks for my roommate and me and swiftly departed to help other lost little freshman.

I was given my key and introduced to my Resident Assistant (RA), Jazzy. She explained where my resources would be here at Concordia and left me to my unpacking. Within a few hours, my room was decked out with a TV, a tower fan, a tiny little kitchenette and a lot of room for activities.

As I stood in the middle of my modest new home, a young lady and her parents walked in and plopped a few boxes down. This was my roommate, Courtney, a wonderful person who has proven to be the most understanding and marvelous living partner to ever walk the streets of Moorhead. After the niceties had been exchanged, the beds made, and the ethernet cables plugged in, my parents and I went off to Buffalo Wild Wings for a lovely meal of crispy barbeque chicken strips and Dr. Pepper.

After lunch, they drove me back to campus and we said our surprisingly tearless goodbyes.

My mom told me to make good choices.

My dad told me that these would be the best years of my life.

As they drove off, I turned and entered the auditorium where the next chapter in my life and, more importantly, my orientation week would begin.

Concordia does orientation like nobody else. It’s a nonstop barrage of pump up jams; high energy 20 year-olds; getting to know you games; heavy conversation about drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll; pure exhaustion; and food.

There was a lot of food.

I think I gained my freshman fifteen in just those few days. That extra padding wasn’t all I gained in my first two weeks of my collegiate life. I’ve collected a few new friends, a few new habits, and a few new adventures in the past 14 days here at Concordia.

I’ve found that I am much more attentive to my classes and much more motivated to do my homework than I was in high school. I got into the fall musical, Les Misérables, and I’ve met some of the most extraordinary people with some of the most beautiful and the most horrific paths that have brought them into my life.

I’ve grown.

On any given Saturday evening, you might find me at a faculty concert, hanging with my new homies, doing my music theory homework, or eating exorbitant amounts of all you can eat cookie dough from the dining services here at Concordia.

Move-in day changed a lot about my day-to-day life. And I love it.