For my first blog post in over a million years, I bring to you a Facebook correspondence I had with an incoming freshman. Her name is Regen and I knew her from Stagedoor Manor. Here is a briefer version of what she wrote me:
I’m coming to Wesleyan in the fall, and I was just wondering if you had any tips/little-known facts/random advice for an incoming freshman? Thanks so much. Hope you’re doing well.
Expecting to not write that much, I kind of waited a while to respond. When I finally did respond, I came up with 15 things that I thought were pretty helpful. Here they are, so that they can be consumed by the larger public:
1. For housing, if you are at all interested in the arts, you should check off that you want to live on Writing Hall. Writing Hall is on the fourth floor of Clark Hall (one of the nicer dorms, centrally located, all freshmen). I lived there freshman year and it was the best hall I could ever ask for. The group who lived there my year (as well as the years before and after me) ended up being really good friends with each other. Writing Hall is merely a TITLE for the hall, meaning that you don’t do a ton of writing events, so even if you’re not into writing, you should still apply because it is the guaranteed BEST way to start off your Wes career. It attracts a ton of artists and super-interesting-and-friendly folks. If you ask for a single-person room, you will get placed in the Butts, which is not the greatest place to live.
2. Keep track of your meals and points on your Wescard. Usdan and Summerfields (dining halls) will give you the choice of using meals, points, or cash; Weswings and Red&Black (the fancier places) will only take points and cash. The fancier places have better food and so when you’re out of cash (which is most of the time) you will find it very easy to just hand over your card and have points deducted. This can be a dangerous game, especially for freshmen who are only granted about 500 points a semester (from sophomore year on, you will get the choice of having about 700 points). Running out of points before the end of the semester really sucks, so avoid that at all costs. Any points you have left at the end of first semester will transfer over to your second semester points. The thing is that at the end of each school year, all your points are deleted, so make sure to spend all your points by the end of each spring semester, because you won’t get them back. Meals are deleted each semester and refilled the next.
3. Get involved in as many groups as you can. There are a ton of a cappella, dance, and improv groups on campus, and they all hold auditions at the beginning of the semester. I’m a member of a sketch comedy group called Lunchbox (we just had a show last night), Vocal Debauchery (a cappella + sketch comedy and we have a show tomorrow) and also a member of WeSLAM (the slam poetry organization) which holds three poetry slams a semester and sends a team to nationals every year. Being too involved can be overwhelming (take it from me), so don’t overextend yourself, but it is better to be involved in a ton of things than nothing at all.
4. If you are still interested in theater, audition for Second Stage shows. Second Stage is the completely student-run theater organization on campus, and they have the ’92 theater (an awesome black-box) as their headquarters. They put up a variety of different shows a semester. There are a lot of popular musicals, weird experimental stuff, world-renowned stuff, and student-written stuff. Here is their website, so you can see more: http://www.2ndstage.org/. It’s a way for you to be involved in theater without having to major. Most shows will hold auditions at the beginning of the semester.
5. Take a film class with Professor Scott Higgins. He is teaching a brand-spanking-new course next semester called THE LANGUAGE OF HOLLYWOOD. It is a three-hour lecture currently scheduled to take place at 9:30am on Mondays and Wednesdays (pain in the butt, I know), but if you’re gonna get up early for ANY PROF, this is the one. I am currently taking his film history class (planning to double-major in film and theater), and he is undoubtedly the best teacher I’ve ever had–the most articulate lecturer with a really great sense of humor. The class will take place in the Center for Film Studies and will more likely than not be held in the Goldsmith Family Cinema, the beautiful 412-seat theater where the film series is held Wednesdays through Saturdays. Even if you’re not into movies, I can pretty much guarantee you it will be fascinating. His taste in movies is also fantastic and you will get to watch a lot of cool things you’ve never seen before, and on a big screen, too! It’s a big class, so there should be no problem getting in.
6. Check out the film series. It’s every Wednesday through Saturday in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. Lots of new and popular movies, lots of weird movies, lots of classics. Different movie every time. All authentic prints, so really good-quality picture. current lineup listed here: http://www.wesleyan.edu/filmseries/.
7. Always, always, always be checking http://wesleying.org/. It is the most popular student-run blog on campus and is constantly being updated throughout the semester with events and other cool goings-on.
8. We have a thing here called Late Night. It’s in Usdan and it goes from 9:30pm-1am every night and you can get really tasty diner food there. They’ve recently added Zingle, which is a way for you to text in your order before you get there, so that you don’t have to wait too long for your food. Highly recommended as one of the cheaper ways to spend your points (grilled cheese + fries + drink = $3.25). Good for both studying on weeknights and partying on the weekends.
9. Another good way to save on points (if you’re into soda / iced coffee) is to become a member of the MUG CLUB, a Wesleyan institution that began this year. It’s a mug that you buy for $20 and you can get a whole year’s worth of free drinks at Weswings and Red&Black (the fancier places). The drinks there run $1.85 and more, so after 10 drinks with the Mug Club, the mug pays for itself.
10. On libraries: unspoken rule is that Olin is the quiet place and SciLi is the place where you can talk. Both are across the street from each other. If you do end up living on Writing Hall, Olin will be right next door.
11. On classes: for small classes that you want to get into, email the professor a semester ahead of time to get on the wait list. Also, always be checking if the class has any pre-requisites. Ask people older than you about the quality of a professor. It’s a small campus, so if the person you’re asking hasn’t had that prof, they probably know someone who has.
12. Put a note on your door reminding you to remember your key and Wescard, and always lock your door (even if it is only to go use the shower) unless your roommate is in there.
13. If you ever wanna go off-campus, it is very expensive to get transportation from here to New Haven train station during the week. Cab will cost $60, and the weekend shuttle costs $9. Schedule your off-campus sojourns for the weekend and/or befriend someone with a car (though the latter is easier said than done).
14. There is a lot to do during Orientation Week with no academic obligations, so make sure not to be in your room alone for longer than five minutes at a time (unless sleeping). The more you involve yourself, the better time you will have.
15. Be patient. I am sorry for overwhelming you with all of this. The truth is that coming to Wes for the first time will likely be overwhelming and you might not like it at first, simply because it is a whole new group of people and a whole new course you’re setting out on. Make sure to give it time. Within a month of coming to Wes, you’ll be fairly acclimated to the routine of everything.