Dear Alicia

By on September 19, 2007

“How did you survive your freshman year, seeing as though it was the your first year of independence?”

– Worried Freshman

Dear Worried Freshman,

My freshman year was extremely difficult for me. I left my two younger sisters, traumatized parents, two best friends and my boyfriend Chris. I was also entering the complete unknown.

On move in day, I remember feeling a sense of bitter-sweet reality. I was sad about having to leave behind everything I knew in life but excited about entering into a world of unlimited possibilities.

When I got to campus I felt a sense of relief. The move-in-crew bombarded my car and I was left walking up four flights of stairs carrying my blue and yellow stuffed frog that Chris bought me before I left. I was the last one to enter the room. I saw my three other roommates, as stressed, nervous and excited as I was.

Everything is very overwhelming at first so I suggest taking a step back. It does start to settle down and things that you thought you weren’t going to be able to handle, come to you very quickly.

One of my biggest problems was making new friends. The first few months, I was stuck in my old ways. I didn’t want to make any friends at college because I missed my old friends back home.

My advice here is to be open-minded. Every freshman is in the same situation and everyone is trying to find that group of people that they can call their ‘best friends’. It might not happen right away. Some personalities clash and others fit as perfect as a glove. Give it time, try new things and be yourself.

Another issue that I had my freshman year was privacy. I have always had my own room but when I moved to college I had to live with three other girls. We had your typical ‘girly’ arguments which mostly stemmed from having to spend every waking moment together. It was hard to realize that I couldn’t only think about myself, but be considerate of the others.

My advice here would be to respect the privacy of others, give yourself time and instead of arguments, have sit down discussions about what everyone expects from each other. It might also help you get to know them better.

Another issue that was hard to handle for me was being away from home. I had to do many things that I have never done before and basically take a step into adulthood.

Freshman year was the first year I ever did my own laundry. There were only three buttons on the machine but I still botched it up and threw a yellow shirt in with white clothes, which made all the clothes have this horrible yellow tint.

Try to realize that you are growing up and it’s a good thing. You can do whatever you put your mind to; you just have to get the hang of it.

One last thing that took some time getting used to was balancing my social life with my academic life. By second semester I had made the best of friends. It got to the point where I wanted to hang out with them every chance I had. It was hard when one of us had work to do and couldn’t go out with the whole group. I never wanted to seem like I was missing something, so it was hard to keep focus on my studies.

My advice here would be to prioritize what is more important and kick into high gear your time management skills. If all your friends are going out on a Thursday night but you have a presentation in your 10am class, I suggest you skip a night out on the town. I also suggest making sure all work for classes is done before you give yourself the reward of partying. It lessens stress to know that the assignment is not hanging over your head.

There were many difficult situations that I dealt with my freshman year, but in the end I survived. I made amazing friends that are still my best friends today, I learned how to get my own privacy while respecting others, my laundry (after that one time) never turned out yellow again, and the balance between my classes and social life worked out, since I was on the dean’s list and had many fun nights out in New Haven.

Always remember that the first year in college is the hardest but once you get the hang of everything, the next three years of your life will be the best.

One thing I know for sure, without everyone who was brought into my life during my freshman year, including friends, roommates and professors, I wouldn’t have survived, nor would I be the woman I am today.


(You can email me questions at, or you can drop off your questions in the anonymous folder outside of the Chronicle office, upstairs in the student center)


About Alicia Staffa