There you are, standing in front of your first-year residence hall, starchy new twin-XL comforter in hand. Your parents have all the brochures and coupons given to you by the enthusiastic Orientation Team (O-Team) leaders with the foam paws. You’ve taken the online tutorials, read all the Princeton Reviews on Oxy, and even maybe talked with some current students. You should be ready, right?
You’re not right, but you’re not wrong either. Adjusting to a new college environment isn’t as easy as anyone tells you, but it’s also not the nightmare that some movies make it out to seem. O-Team leaders are great, and RAs are wonderful in terms of providing you with first-hand knowledge about how to survive your first year at Oxy. They tell you the ins and outs of Oxy, about how to get around and not get totally lost, both physically and emotionally.
But what no one is going to tell you are the little life hacks specific to Oxy that can relieve a tiny bit of day-to-day stress, or get you to class 30 seconds earlier so you don’t show up out of breath from dashing to class. Here are a few hacks, courtesy of some upper-division students (mostly rising seniors) that they have learned over their (almost) four years here.
“The Market Place is great, but it can get a little repetitive, so don’t be afraid to mix and match from several stations to make your perfect meal,” Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) major Adrian Almaguer (senior) said. “One of my favorites is grabbing an English muffin from the bakery, tossing it in the toaster, ordering a fried egg and bacon from the grill, grabbing some cheese from the sandwich bar, and combining that all together to make a breakfast sandwich.”
Politics major Griffin Taylor (senior) adds that timing is essential if you want to avoid Marketplace lines. “If you can avoid it, you’ll save a lot of time by eating lunch slightly before classes get out at 11:30 or slightly after classes start at 12:30.”
On the topic of food, cognitive science major Annemarie Schnedler (junior) is an expert. “You can bring any vegetable from the salad bar to the omelette, pasta or stir fry line and [the cooks] will mix it into your order!” Schnedler says. And DWA major Calli Obern and philosophy major Laura Koeller (juniors) add to the discussion: “You can mix any type of sauce at the pasta bar too. Pesto + alfredo = yum!”
Occidental students are blessed with local, delicious and affordable restaurants right in our backyard. Thai Eagle Rox, is so familiar with Occidental students calling in for delivery that they know the dorm buildings by name. And Dominos Pizza will actually bring your order into the library and leave it at the circulation desk so you don’t have to venture far from your homework.
Taylor also emphasized some important aspects of Occidental life other than food. “Come out of the gate swinging in terms of schoolwork,” he said. “While it’s easy to get caught up meeting people during your fall semester, you can do that and do well in school at the same time. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re not digging yourself out of a hole on your GPA.”
And I speak for some of the senior class, I think, when I say we all wish we had done a little better our first semester freshman year.
These are just some of the many “hacks” that the upperclassmen have acquired over the semesters. For a more complete list, see below:
“The gym is busiest from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., but after 8 it is nearly empty.” — Politics and Spanish studies major Ben Warner (senior)
“Stearns common room has the fastest internet on campus during finals and in general.” — DWA major Alex Keat (senior)
“Attend on-campus events and programs and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. You may just find your next mentor or discover a new passion.” — Theater major Hailey Moran (senior)
“Buy a large tea at the Green Bean because it’s the same price as a small but the baristas won’t always remind you of that.” — Biochemistry and Spanish studies major Abby Bailey (senior)
“One piece of advice I would give to all students is to understand the power of taking time for themselves. I feel like especially since Oxy is such a small school and everyone can be up in everyone’s business, it is incredibly important for one to take time to oneself to meditate, or exercise, or go on a walk, etc. Do something every day that is just for you–an activity that makes you feel alive, calm, grounded, etc.” — Politics major Rachel Buckner (senior)
“If you can get your hands on an ethernet cable during class registration, the better connection will help you blow by all those suckers on the wifi when MyOxy starts to meltdown.” — Almaguer
“Go to anything and everything that interests you even if you can’t find
friends to go with. If you go, you will find people that are interested
in the same things you are! The more friends, the better!” — Sociology major Emily Watkins (senior)