Worse Case Scenario: Survival Guide to Freshman Fall

by Emily Fletcher | 8/8/11 10:00pm

Although Dartmouth alumnus Dr. Seuss promises that you're 98 and percent guaranteed to succeed (barring a drug scandal or getting Parkhursted), unexpected speed bumps may arise during your time at the College. Have no fear, though, comrades, because I have compiled a worst-case scenario survival guide to help you navigate the awkward hook-ups and (literally) gut-wrenching hangovers that you may encounter.

Unbearable Roommate

One of the scariest parts of coming to college up there with doing your own laundry and being surrounded by people who somehow swung a 2500 on the SATs while single-handedly caring for 437 orphaned children and captaining the lacrosse team is meeting and getting to know your freshman roommate. While the vast majority of you will become friendly but not necessarily be-each-other's-maids-of-honor-close, some will get lucky and find that your new best friend sleeps three feet from you. Others will get unlucky and find that your new roommate is a closet crazy.'

Most bad roommates aren't outwardly insane, but they slowly show their true psychosis over the course of your first term living together. First try to discuss things like sleep schedules and overnight visitors with your roommate before things get out of hand at a time when you're getting along. Don't try to talk about things in the morning two minutes after you've both gotten up you will both be tired and grumpy and that's a recipe for disaster.

This should go without saying, but be calm and diplomatic, and give him/her the benefit of the doubt in the conversation, even if you know for a fact that he/she is batshit crazy. If that fails, talk to your Undergraduate Advisor (UGA, called an RA at every other school) about mediating the discussion. If all else fails, request a roommate change.

Awkward Hook-Up

Bad news bears! That attractive guy/girl you drunkenly brought back to the Choates last night is in your freshman seminar. It happens to everyone at some point a poorly chosen hook-up whom you kind of want to forget but somehow see everywhere. Be strong, though, young harlots and floozies (just kidding!), you will get through the awkward half-smiles and eye contact aversions.

A lighthearted morning-after blitz will take pressure off any future social interactions. Err on the side of friendliness no need to alter your route to class, just casually acknowledge him/her with a smile and move on (unless you spent the night with a bedding-hogger, then you should flash your best dirty look every time you're in his/her vicinity).Sexiled/Sexcarcerated

No one wants to be stuck in the inner room of a two-room double while Drunky McRoommateson is hooking up with some rando in the outer room. You can always try the "Ready or not, here I come!" method and try to avoid seeing anyone's private parts while you run to the floor bathroom, but this is iffy at best for obvious reasons. This is a situation that can be easily remedied with just a little advance planning. Establish a plan with your roommate before this scenario ever arises it's always polite to text before bringing someone home and let your roommate know that they should find a friend with a futon. That said, if you have a midterm the next day and you're already snug as a bug in a rug in your own bed, it's completely acceptable to tell your roommate that it isn't a good night to bring someone home. No one wants to be a cockblocktopus, but they can always start working on the Dartmouth Seven if they can't use the room.


Scene: It's Friday night and you're ready to go out in all your fresh-meat ahem, freshman glory. After making sure you can recognize all then necessary Greek letters (sigma, delta and theta are easy because you're a math whiz!), you head out to play some pong and tear up the frat dance floors. But wait! After one game of pong at your trip leader's Greek house, it becomes readily apparent that you, frankly, suck. Great Odin's Raven! Does this mean you have to transfer after a quarter? Withdraw immediately? Very few people are good at pong right off the bat, and to be honest, it doesn't really matter. No one expects you to golden tree anyone in your first game, and the only way to get better is to keep practicing. It's not at all awkward to be awful at pong freshman fall, but if you avoid playing because you're self-conscious about your mediocre pong skills, things can get awkward later when there are higher expectations. Muddle through those games early on and you will inevitably get better.

Unexpectedly Difficult Class

Believe it or not, as much as you love knowledge, college is about more than looking smart in the library. It doesn't matter if you were valedictorian of your class (guess what, 40 percent of the freshman class was so nobody cares) or took all 31 AP classes college is hard. Most intro classes are fairly large and anonymous, so you will have to be proactive if a class you're taking ends up being more difficult than expected. Getting help is not an indication of failure I don't know if anyone in the history of Dartmouth has gotten through four years here without extra help in at least a few classes so don't hesitate if you need it. Go to office hours, join a study group, get a tutor and develop a routine. Keep the class in perspective too no one gives a lone pine if you don't get an A in Chem 5 your freshman fall.Rejection

Newsflash: You are (probably) brilliant and freakishly talented, but so is everyone else around you at Dartmouth. This can become painfully obvious when you start applying to join extracurriculars and auditioning for whichever facetime-y performance group you're dying to join. You will get rejected from some things, which is natural and healthy and normal. That said, it still stings. The best immediate remedy I've found for nursing rejection pain is calling my mom and eating chocolate. For most people, though, the best solution is to keep applying to new groups and branching out. Dartmouth offers an almost overwhelming number of incredible opportunities, but they are not the only ones available by any means. I applied to three Foreign Study Programs my freshman year and was waitlisted for all of them. After re-evaluating, I realized none of them was actually what I wanted to do, so in the fall I'm going to India through a non-Dartmouth program that will still get me credit for my major. Don't get discouraged [insert clich motivational saying here]! No rejection will define your Dartmouth experience and you will eventually find your perfect niche.

Painful Hangover

Uh-oh, Katy Perry, went a little too hard last Friday night and now can't even hear the words "Jager bomb" without getting nauseous? Even worse, have to go to class and can't stop kowtowing before the porcelain throne? First, it's important to remember that despite feeling like the grim reaper is personally punishing you for underage drinking, you will survive, and may even rally enough to go out again that same night (welcome to college, hard guyz). Go to any DDS establishment on campus and grab some free crackers or any other basic starchy food. Eat those while drinking copious amounts of water. Even if you can't hold it down at first, you will be able to eventually. At that point, move on to something more substantial with some protein and drink something like Gatorade if you can. Gotta replenish those electrolytes! Take painkillers. You shouldn't take ibuprofen on an empty stomach (unless you like ulcers!), but acetaminophen (a.k.a. Tylenol) is fine and is crucial if you aren't feeling well enough to eat anything. For future prevention of that near-death feeling, eat something hearty before and after drinking, drink as much water as you physically can before going to sleep and, most importantly, drink less alcohol. People may like to glorify getting schwasty-faced, but if you think your (or your friend's!) drinking is becoming a problem, talk to a Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisor.

The Freshman 15

Food options when you get to Dartmouth will probably seem pretty great, and for the most part, they are. Soups, salads, burger, pasta, sandwiches, fruit, stir fry, mysterious packaged things in the fridges you name it, and you can probably find it at one of the dining facilities on campus. Consuming all of these options may also lead to overeating, though, and contrary to the dreams of every living human, alcohol also has calories. So what do you do if you find the pounds creeping on between chocolate chip scones?

Well, you have lots of options! Head over to the gym I found it legitimately terrifying at first because I seemed to always end up surrounded by uber-fit athletes on death traps disguised as ellipticals, but this was the result of my self-consciousness, not the actual environment of the gym. There are lots of great running trails around campus, tons of available gym classes and intramural teams galore. In terms of eating habits, practicing moderation when it comes to the infamously tasty Collis baked goods is key, as hard as this may be. Ultimately, though, don't stress it too much. Being healthy is good, obsessing about those two extra M&Ms is not. If you are concerned about your own or someone else's eating habits, talk to an Eating Disorder Peer Advisor or make an appointment with the Dick's House nutritionist.

Hopefully these tips will give you the tools to navigate sticky situations you may find yourself in during your time at Dartmouth. But if they don't, just remember: don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.