Navigating the First Two Weeks of College: A Freshman Perspective



By: Amber Shemesh


As a freshman, these past two weeks at American have been overwhelming, to say the least. Obviously, before coming here, I had heard about the school and had read a bit about campus culture, but being here and experiencing it is an entirely different thing. To put my experiences into context, here are some observations, thoughts and feelings I’ve had throughout my time in college so far:

Welcome Week was a period of transition for me:

1. Distinguishing two versions of your life

  • Going to college creates a strange separation that forms what is essentially two alternate versions of your life (your life back home and your life in college)

  • It's really difficult to balance your "new" life in college with your "old" life at home. How do you find time to make new friends, stay close with your friends from home, and still focus on yourself?

  • After the novelty of being in D.C. wears away, you're left with a longing to go home

  • There's a difference between meeting people and making connections with them; the former comes easily but the latter is something I've been struggling with

2.  Adjusting to dorm life

  • I really like the dorms because they're cute, albeit small, and I also like my roommates so far! It is much easier to adjust when you get along with your roommates

  • I think the easiest way to adjust is by decorating your dorm to make it feel more like home or doing something that makes you happy (for me, that would be wearing socks with art prints on them)

  • Communal showers really aren't that bad, as long as you have flip flops and a shower caddy (shower caddies are so convenient!)

3.  Observing campus culture

  • People, especially upperclassmen, really like free food

  • It's hard to establish a new, daily routine

  • What are all these names/ nicknames for places on campus?? (The Dav, TDR, etc.)

4.  Living in D.C.

  • At first, whenever I took the metro or bus, I managed to find the right train, but I'd always end up going in the wrong direction

  • Washington, D.C. feels like a greener, quieter (maybe a little bit emptier) version of New York City

5.  Being alone

  • I feel on my own, but it's not a necessarily bad or sad thing. It's just different.

  • I like how in college, everyone has the ability to do his/her own thing, with hardly any judgment from others

  • It’s easier to do things alone- around D.C., on campus, etc.


On the other hand, the first week of classes felt heavier- not just in workload but in emotions as well:

1. How others treat you

  • The people who work in TDR and around campus are so friendly and nice!

  • Most people are really sympathetic when you say you're a freshman, which is simultaneously nice and alarming

2.  The strife of academic life

  • I like how easy it is to get in touch with teachers and how you're responsible for your own learning

  • Why do we have to buy so many textbooks? And why are they so expensive??

  • I'm not that big a fan of lectures; they feel impersonal, and it's hard to engage with the material when there are so many other people in the class

  • The workload consumes all your time, so while you technically do have more free time in college than you did in high school, it feels the opposite

  • People are really supportive here

  • The deadlines are hard to keep up with because not all assignments are due on the same day of class

3.  Time is either too little or too long

  • People have been saying that college is your time to explore your interests, but what if you have more interests than you do time?

  • Every day feels like an eternity. It's only been a week since classes started, but I feel like it's already time to graduate

4.  Relationships are fickle

  • It is awful when you get in an argument with your roommate; you just want to be alone but you physically can't

  • People establish groups really quickly, which can make you feel like you're the only one who hasn't formed close friendships


Regardless of how you felt coming into college or how often you mentally prepared to move in, there really is nothing that compares to the entire ordeal than experiencing it for yourself. Adjusting to a new school, a new city, and what is essentially a new emotionally draining. People will throw “universal truths” at you: how college is the best time of your life, how you really find yourself, or how everyone is going through the same thing as you; whether these “truths” hold much truth at all, I honestly don’t know. But from the little time I’ve been here, I do know that things are easier to adjust to if you just take everything in, one observation at a time.


Edited by Sydney Hamilton