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How To Survive Your First Day

You asked, we answered! This blog goes out, specifically, to Komal. You wanted tips on how to make it through your first day at Carolina, and we’ve got answers for you. Follow these and you’ll have an FDOC better than the one in Ned’s Declassified.

  1. Know What FDOC Means

How do you spot a first-year? They don’t know the Carolina lingo. Don’t be that kid. Every year, the DTH sends out a first-year guide to all things UNC. In it? All the Carolina abbreviations. I’ll highlight some of the basics for you. First of all, the DTH is the Daily Tar Heel. It’s our on-campus newspaper that’s totally student-run (make sure to sign up for it if you believe in the future of journalism)! They publish new stories every day, from sports coverage to social activism. Make sure to check your mail over the summer for your special copy and read up on all the acronyms. Once you get to Carolina, you’ll be hearing a lot of FDOC. FDOC stands for the First Day of Class. Towards the end of the semester, you’ll hear this replaced with LDOC (Last Day of Class). All of your friends will ask you how your FDOC went, so don’t be caught off guard! It’s also a tradition to drink from the Old Well on FDOC. They say you get a 4.0 for the semester if you do. I’m not one to brag, but from experience, I know it does have a small success rate. Some people like to line up at the well right at midnight and sing the alma mater with other Tar Heels. You definitely don’t need to be that dedicated to the cause to get a 4.0, but definitely stop by at some point during the day. It’ll be hot and the line will be long, but you never know who you’ll meet while you’re waiting.

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2. Find Your Classes the Day Before

Nothing is worse than being late for your class because you went into the wrong building. Make sure to take time the day before FDOC to find all your classrooms. Go with one of your suitemates and do a run through of what your days will look like. Make sure to do a Mon/Wed/Fri mockup and then a Tues/Thurs. Also, big PSA, there’s a difference between Hanes Hall and Hanes Art Center. If you have one of these on your schedule, make sure to check you’re at the right one. They’re not across campus or anything, but it’ll still take you about five minutes to walk between each. Trust me, if you have an 8 am, you do NOT want to waste an extra five minutes. UNC is a big campus. I spent my first few weeks with a map of campus as my phone background. Don’t be ashamed if you have to do this. It’s way better than being lost.

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3. Sit in the Front

I’ve only had one 300 person lecture class during my time at UNC and I can honestly say I’m BLESSED. Those classes aren’t fun. Mine was ECON 101 (again, not fun). A lot of 101 courses, especially science ones, will be big lecture ones. Though recitations make them feel a little smaller, the class itself can be easy to get lost in. My best advice is to sit in the front. In my econ class, I sat in the very front row. That might be a little extra, but definitely try to find a seat up front. I’m not saying it’s true, but in my opinion, a lot of the students who get those higher grades will sit in the front. Maybe correlation, not causation? Also, a lot of these lectures require group work to answer poll questions, so you want to be surrounded by smart kids. There’s a good chance if you sit in the back you’ll be stuck next to a kid who only shows up to class the first day, exam days, and last day. And when you have 45 seconds left to answer a poll (yes, @Balaban), you’ll regret not sitting next to someone else.

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4. Make Time for Lunch

Nothing is worse than sitting in a quiet classroom and then your stomach starts growling. Trust me, this happened to me all the time if I skipped meals, and though it’s funny the first few times, I could tell the people sitting next to me would get annoyed after a while. Get into the routine of making time for lunch every day, starting with FDOC. This is an easy way to squeeze in social time during your busy day. I was scared of eating alone at first, so I always went with a friend. After a while you realize eating alone is totally normal, and sometimes needed on bad days, but those first few weeks it’s nice to use the time to get to know the people you’ll be seeing for the next four years! Also, make note that your Monday schedule isn’t that same as your Thursday one, so switch up your lunch routine! You don’t have to eat in the dining hall every day. If you’re extra busy during midterm season, use a plus swipe and take your food to go to a library.

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5. Prepare a Fun Fact

Ugh, professors who do this are the worst. My first day at Carolina I was SO unprepared for this question. UNC is great because there are so many cool people who attend. But that also means those cool people have REALLY cool fun facts. I’ve had all but one professor at Carolina ask me for a fun fact, so chances are your professors will too. Don’t be that lame kid that says you played baseball in high school. Newsflash: this sounds like you peaked in high school. Think back to the unique moments you’ve had in your life, and share one! But please don’t go into a full story either, it’s a fun fact, not a fun novel.

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6. Create Group Chats

Create group chats with the people you sit next to in class. This is an easy way to get to know your classmates, and it’ll come in handy when you need help with homework. Carolina students are really friendly, I promise you no one will think it’s weird if you take initiative. My MEJO 101 class I sat next to my roommate. On our first day, she made a group chat with the two boys who sat behind us. We didn’t know it then, but by the end of the semester, we all became besties! Also, divide and conquer is an actual thing. It’s easier to find the answers to a study guide between four people than by yourself. Do yourself a favor and create that group message.

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Well, there you have it, how to survive FDOC, Carolina edition. Stay tuned later in the semester for how to survive LDOC. That one is a lot more fun :).

How to Make Friends: College Edition

In fifth grade, I was a little girl who couldn’t open her own water bottles. I remember the first day of school, I had to ask the girl next to me if she could open mine for me. Little did I know she would become my best friend for the next nine years. This fall, I’m heading into my sophomore year at Carolina. I can thankfully say I can open my own water bottles now, and I’ve also found some other pretty great friends along the way. Yet one year ago, my biggest fear was not having any friends. I’m from Orlando, and as you can expect, there aren’t many Floridians rushing to go to school at UNC. Though it was relieving to know I was going to a school where I could start completely fresh, I knew there wouldn’t be any recess time or water bottles to help me make friends. I didn’t want to be that one girl who hated college because she lacked a social life, so meeting people became my number one priority. As you say goodbye to your hometown friends this summer, I’ve gathered some tips on how to make new ones here at Carolina.

  1. Become a regular

The first few weeks of school is the time when everyone starts to get into the groove of things- you learn how late you can sleep in and still make your class, what days Lenoir is serving mac ’n’ cheese, and most importantly, what your go-to study place will be. Your habits probably don’t change much from day to day, so you’re bound to become a regular somewhere. Good news? You’re not the only one. Everyone has a specific schedule they follow, so there’s a good chance you’ll be running into some of the same people over and over. My first year, I was not expecting Carolina to be so cold so early on in the year. By late September, I was already opening up my Florida winter bins. When it was 50 degrees outside and I didn’t want to walk home from the UL late, I would do my homework in one of the study lounges in my residence hall. Turns out, a lot of other people felt the same way. Each day, no matter which lounge I was in, I would see someone familiar. Eventually, I found some of my best friends inside the Horton study lounges. You have no idea how much you can bond with someone over being stressed out about a paper at 2 am.

2. Tag along with your roommate

Having a roommate has a long list of perks, one of them being that their friends will probably also become your friends. When all else fails, don’t be shy about tagging along with your roommate! Last year, my roommate came from a school in Raleigh, so she knew a lot of people coming to campus. It helped me a lot, because those first few nights before I knew anyone, it was her group of friends that made me feel more comfortable. Plus, there will be times your roommate invites his/her friends to your room, so it helps to be friendly with them! Make sure you get to know them, you might be seeing them a lot throughout the year.

3. Bake cookies

On move-in day, two girls in my hall baked cookies for everyone. They had moved in early because of Carolina Kickoff, so while everyone else was coming in and out with boxes and mini fridges, they were already settled into their rooms. They used their time to come up with an idea on how to meet people, and who doesn’t love cookies? That afternoon, they went door to door handing out cookies, and if there’s one thing college students love, it’s free food. If you move in early for whatever reason, try this tip out! It’s a super easy, nonintimidating way of meeting everyone on your floor. Everyone will remember the person that gave them their first piece of free food at Carolina.

4. Accept invitations

The two guys that lived next to me, went knocking door to door on the first afternoon asking people if they wanted to join them for dinner. If someone in your hall does this, GO!! I know everyone has pictured that scene from a movie where a kid is sitting alone in the dining hall. Though now I understand this is perfectly normal, I remember my freshman year I was super paranoid about being alone. The fact I didn’t have to worry my first night about eating alone seriously calmed my nerves about Carolina. Not everyone you meet your first day will be your instant best friend, but it doesn’t hurt to try. These two guys, Josh and Tyler, would end up being some of my best friends.

5. Don’t be afraid to initiate!

For the first football game of my first year, my roommate woke up sick. I had planned on going to the game with her, but she was a mess, and I knew there was no getting her out of bed. For a moment, I panicked. There was no way I was going to miss my first Carolina football game (even if we ended the season 3-9, basketball school right?), but there was also no way I was going to go by myself. An hour before kick off, I finally got the courage to go down the hall and ask some of the girls if I could join them. I didn’t even have to explain myself- they welcomed me with open arms. We may have lost that game, and many more, but I made some of my best friends by swallowing my fear and just asking them. Don’t be scared to do the same.

6. Join Clubs

Finally, the most obvious one. Joining clubs and organizations at UNC is the easiest way to make friends. Join Greek life, try out for a sports team, take part in service events…anything you do will make you a friend. Tar heels are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet, take advantage of it.

Food Necessities: Dorm Edition

Whether you’re getting an unlimited meal plan or not, you’re still going to need some sort of food in your room. While you may be awake at 2 a.m. finishing homework, the dining hall workers won’t be. They need a break too! On school nights, Chase is open until midnight, so you get a little breathing room, but after that, it’s every student for themselves. Plus, chances are, even if you do get hungry at a time that the dining halls are open, you’re bound to experience at least one wave of laziness where you don’t want to make the trek to the dining hall (it’s not always a sunny, 75 degrees outside). Trust me, being a Florida native, this past winter season was miserable. It may only have been 50 degrees out, but I’m telling you wind chill is a real thing and it definitely makes it feel 30, so walking to Chase or Lenoir was not at the top of my agenda. And for all you Northerners saying you’re used to the cold, welllllll it also rains here in North Carolina, and if you aren’t in the business of getting soaked, I strongly suggest keeping a few of these in your room:

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Ramen noodles and/or Easy Mac:

There is a reason everyone associates dorm food with them, ramen noodles and easy mac WILL be your lifesavers. There’s just no way around it. Any variation of instant pasta will do, but these two are the cheapest. All you need is the pasta, water, and 3 minutes of your time, and then voila, you have yourself a whole meal! If you want to get creative, add a few herbs and spices. It’ll take it from your traditional microwavable meal to one worthy of Gordon Ramsay (okay exaggerating a little).

Lunchables:

It might’ve been since fifth grade since you had a lunchable, but don’t underestimate them. These are the perfect snacks for when you’re hungrier than just chips, but not hungry enough for a full meal. My favorite is the classic ham and cheese (it brings oreos!!), but you can’t go wrong with the nachos either. For days you wish your classes were as easy as in elementary school, lunchables bring you one step closer to your inner 10 year old.

Chips/Goldfish:

For when you need something salty to munch on, these are the perfect snack items. They’re cheap, unmessy, and honestly very yummy. Chips and queso? Chips and salsa? Goldfish? Doritos? Get a variety pack and avoid boredom.

Bagels:

Those 8 a.m. classes are tough, honestly even the 9:05 and 10:10 classes can be hard to get to some days. When you don’t have time to get breakfast beforehand, make sure to keep your room stocked with bagels. They’re yummier than plain bread, but still filling, and they’re something you can eat as you run to class. For those of you with a fridge, feel free to keep some cream cheese or butter. It’ll be just like you stopped by Alpine.

Bananas/Cuties:

My first year, a group of my friends created this “banana challenge” as a joke. They challenged you to eat a whole banana under 10 seconds, and yes, it’s as hard as it sounds. One time, they “banana’d” me, forcing me to start the challenge. They were chanting my name to get me to do it, and soon enough, that whole area of the dining hall was shouting “Valentina! Valentina!” It was mortifying, to say the least. I didn’t end up eating the banana in the dining hall, not with all those people staring, but I did take it back to my dorm room. That’s when I realized I had just done something. Why use a swipe trying to get a banana, when I could just take one the night before and save it in my room? Try this every time you’re in Chase. Don’t leave without a banana. As for cuties, who doesn’t love them? The Target on Franklin sells them year round, so be sure to stock up.

Granola bars/trail mix:

Do I even need to explain this one? Perfect for on the go, perfect in the morning, perfect at night… There is really no bad time for granola bars or trail mix. Definitely buy one with m&m’s in it- no one eats the normal kind anyway.

Something sweet:

Everyone has a sweet tooth. When you’re on South campus and don’t want to walk a mile for Lenoir cookies, make sure to keep something sweet in your room. I found cookies or chocolates work best because they don’t expire quickly, but definitely, if you’re a baker and you enjoy cupcakes on the weekly, keep some cake mix in your dorm. It’ll come in handy if you ever forget about your roommate’s birthday.

Pro tip:

Many of these foods require a fridge or microwave, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring both. One of the great blessings of having a roommate is you guys can decide what each person is bringing. Divide and conquer. Now that room assignments are out, get in contact with your roommate and start talking about who is bringing what. There is no point (or space) to have two of each item.

Orientation Do’s and Don’ts

Wooohoooooo it’s that time of the year. Graduation, family vacations, and new to you: orientation!! Every new student coming to Carolina in the fall gets to attend an orientation session this summer, so I’ve broken down the two days into the best do’s and don’ts list I could think of. After reading this you’ll be totally prepared to make the most of your Carolina preview.

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Do’s:

  1. Do take advantage of all the free items! One of the best parts about orientation is all the free Carolina swag you can leave with. Throughout your two day experience, many of the organizations on campus will be present at different sessions to teach you more about life at UNC. The best part is, this usually means they have free stuff to give away too. There are stickers, popsockets, phone wallets, water bottles- seriously anything you want you can pretty much find. You’ll come out of orientation ready to show off your Carolina pride to all your friends. *Hint hint* come find me and the rest of the summer Housing team for some of this said free stuff.Image result for thanks dude gif
  2. Explore the Chapel Hill community! If you have time, check out all the yummy places to eat on Franklin Street. There is nothing that will make you more excited for college than knowing where all the tasty places Tar Heels eat are at. For those of you who don’t live nearby, it’s also a great opportunity to see how much Carolina pride the town has. Many of the restaurants on Franklin are decked out in Carolina art and other Tar Heel decorations, so be sure to take it all in. You’re going to be spending your next four years in this town, and dining hall food will only satisfy you for so long. Use orientation as a trial and error time to find your favorite Franklin Street staple. P.S. we’ll be giving away coupons to some of these restaurants, so make sure you stop by our table during your session! #EatBlueBleedBllueImage result for so much food gif
  3. If you’re coming to orientation with your #froomie, stop by the Chapel Hill mural behind He’s Not Here. There’s no guarantee that you will become besties with your roommate, but chances are you two will make memories that’ll go past your first-year, so it’s always nice to have a picture that marks the start of a friendship. Who knows? You might even end up rooming with them again your next year.  Don’t forget to check out our blog in the next few weeks for more picture perfect spots to take your roommate to! #DoItForTheGramImage result for besties gif

Don’t’s:

  1. Don’t forget sheets, blankets, and a pillow! All students are housed overnight inside Cobb. Being a hall-style residence hall, it has central A/C, and boyyyy can it get cold in there. To not spend your first night at Carolina shivering, (since there will be plenty of those during the winter) make sure to bring a blanket to keep you warm. PSA: You may not get a lot of sleep!  Trust me, Orientation Leaders pack A LOT into the two days you’re here. So once you finally do get a chance to head back to your room, make sure you have everything you need to spend the night dreaming of your Carolina future. You’ll need to be well rested for Day 2 when you practice registering for classes. Image result for bed gif
  2. Speaking of course registration, do NOT panic!! I was so overwhelmed and stressed during my registration info session, I wish someone would have told me it’s totally normal. On Day 2, all new students participate in a mock registration session with an academic adviser. Here, all your questions on how to register for classes will be answered. When they take you through the course lists, you might notice all the classes appear to be full, but don’t worry! Many of the courses for first-years have reserved seats. This means they might appear to be full when you’re looking, but come registration time certain seats will open up specifically for you! If you still don’t see any classes that have open seats, a lot of times students change their schedules over the summer, so if at first you don’t succeed, keep checking! Also, ConnectCarolina isn’t an easy website to figure out by yourself, so make sure you’re really paying attention during your info session. The last thing you want to happen is come your registration time a few weeks later and you realize you have no idea how to add a class to your shopping cart.Image result for im fine gif
  3. Don’t be shy!! Be open to making new friends! The very first people you meet at Carolina will be those in your orientation group, so make an effort to become friends with them! How cool would it be during graduation time four years from now to say you met your best friends your very first day at Carolina? A lot of times, the groups are created by similar interests, so find things you and your groupmates have in common! All in-staters and out-of-staters have one thing in common: they’re all new to UNC, so don’t worry about being nervous about introducing yourself. Everyone is in the same boat of trying to meet new people. You never know who you will end up seeing every day in the fall! Image result for did we just become best friends gif

Orientation is your first real taste of Carolina- take the time to soak it all in. After all, this is your home for the next four years!