Adjusting to College: Dorm Life, Friends, and More

Hey! Long time, no see. It’s been a whirlwind month of college, but it feels like I’ve been here for way longer than just 4 weeks. In fact, writing that out just now shocked me. If I’ve changed and grown so much in only 30 days, I can’t wait to see what kind of person I’ll be at the end of freshman year.

I’ve adjusted pretty well to my new life. Despite all of the jitters and stress during the summer, I realize now that I was ready for college. Here’s what my life looks like now!

Academics

I worried a lot about the academic part of college during the summer. My school uses a quarter system, which means our grading period is 10-weeks long rather than a usual 15-week semester. When school started, we hit the ground running. Our classes are intense and very fast-paced, but I find myself enjoying it.

I feel like I’m actually learning and absorbing new concepts rather than just being fed information like in high school. I’m taking French 1, Computer Science 1, and a Philosophy course. It seems like a very small course load, but it’s necessary with this system.

Computer Science is definitely my most challenging course but in the best way possible. It stretches my brain far past it’s comfort zone. I find myself wanting to cry halfway through our assignments, but when I finally figure it out, such an intense feeling of joy and accomplishment washes over me.

My least favorite part about classes is having language drills at 7:45am 4 days out of the week. They are 50 minute lessons completely in French that are designed to make you start thinking in the language. It can be brutal having to wake up for them after a late night. The good part is that my regular classes don’t start until 11:30 so I can come back and sleep for a little bit.

My advice to worried incoming Freshmen: If you’re struggling, go to office hours. It is easy to fall behind, but it’s also easy to act before you do. Try not to let a bad test grade inform you that you don’t understand something. Talk to your professor or TA ahead of time.

Dorm Life

I had a very love-hate relationship with my dorm at first. I’m placed in a hall that is the farthest from the main buildings of campus (about a 10 minute walk). In the first few weeks, my legs were so sore from walking back and forth that I could barely climb the stairs. My body has since adjusted and I enjoy the daily physical activity I get from the walk. It staves off the Freshman 15!

Even though we’re in one of the oldest dorms, our room is amazing. My roommate and I have a 3 room double, which means we have our own bedrooms and a shared living room. We coordinated our living room to be blue and white and hung string lights around the ceiling (pictures will be on my blog soon!). Our room has become a pretty popular hangout for our floor mates, who I’ve become very close to. We do almost everything together–study, eat, talk, etc.

Forming friendships with the people in my hall was one of the reasons I felt at home on campus so quickly.

Friends

Outside of my residence hall, I’ve made friendships in a few other places.

GroupMe: Soon after I got accepted to college, our class made a GroupMe and I joined. The excitement of being able to go to Dartmouth made everyone fast friends, and the group message remained active for the next 8 months. When I got to campus, I already had built-in friends that I had made in the chat and am now friends with in real life.

Trips: My school does a camping trip for freshmen before classes start. Trips are a week long excursion into the woods with a small group of my classmates and 2 upperclassmen. Being in the wilderness, not showering for 5 days, and using the bathroom in the forest made for some very close relationships. I’m still friends with a lot of people I met during that time.

O-Week: During Orientation week, my school planned a lot of social events that encouraged us to meet others. There were cookouts, s’mores, and dance parties all week. I’m not close to a lot of the people I met during that time, but it’s nice to see familiar faces who smile back around campus.

Classes: There’s nothing like an upcoming midterm to bring classmates together! I’ve gotten to know some of the people in my classes better through long study group sessions.

Activities & Clubs

Contrary to the advice that I should join every club under the sun, I was pretty selective with how I rationed off my time. I’m on the programming board, which plans school wide events like concerts, shows, and festivals. I tried out for the club volleyball team, but I was pretty rusty and didn’t make it. They’re holding tryouts again after the break so I’ll practice more while I’m at home and try to get on the team later. I didn’t want to stress myself out this term by signing up for a bunch of clubs because I was still learning how to manage my schoolwork. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of things and I’ll be ready to jump into more activities next term.


I am having a blast as a Freshman. There is so much to talk about that it’s difficult to know where to start. If there’s any aspect of freshman life that you want to hear about, let me know in the comments!

Lola Adewuya

Lola is a Freshman at Dartmouth College. She blogs at Macarons in the Morning, where millennials can learn how to make the most of their college years. She’s obsessed with french macarons, starting new projects, and taking naps. You can follow her experiences in her first year of college on her blog and Instagram.

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