College campuses have the beautiful convenience of gathering a wide range of amenities into a small geographic area. You likely have everything you'll need for a semester within walking distance of your dorm. After making it through the first day of class, it's time to launch an expedition to find some of the basic services you're going to need this year. As you walk around campus, look for the following.
1. Dining Halls and Other Restaurants
I hope that you've found these already, since it is 100 percent necessary to eat. But if you've been surviving off the granola bars and instant oatmeal you brought from home, definitely get out there and find places to eat. Figure out how you pay for each dining hall — does it take swipes or subtract money from an account balance? In addition to dining halls, check out any restaurants in the area. You're going to get sick of campus food eventually, so it's good to know your options.
2. Grocery Stores or Convenience Stores
This is going to come in handy when you need to restock on coffee, trail mix or other essential snacks. At some point you're also going to run out of shampoo or mouthwash, so make sure you track down the closest convenience store. If your campus is in a city, it's likely right down the block. If your school is more rural, getting to a grocery store may require a car or a bus.
Don't study in your room all the time! It's good for your brain to separate the place where you work and where you sleep. As you get more familiar with the campus you'll find your favorite spots to study, but the library is a good start. Many libraries have spaces to accommodate different noise levels, so you can use common areas to work on a group project or find an absolutely silent room for yourself. If you're in a specialized program like music or business, that college may also have its own library.
4. Rec Center
If you're a fan of the gym, you've probably already tracked this one down. For the rest of you, it's not too late to get in a workout routine. Get on a stationary bike, run on the track or check out a group class like yoga or kickboxing. Gym membership is likely included in your college tuition, so take advantage of it!
5. Post Office
Sooner or later you're going to need to pick up a textbook, a care package or some online shopping. The post office might be its own building, or it may be housed in another academic or residential building. Either way, track it down so you can find it when you need it.
6. Medical Center and Pharmacy
This is likely the quickest place to go if you get sick at school. Sure, we're all used to powering through a common cold, but you could get really sick. The last thing you want to do if you're nauseous and exhausted is get lost searching for someone to help. If you have prescription medication, you also need to know where to pick up refills. This could be a local CVS or Walgreens, or maybe a pharmacy run by the school itself.
Adulting Tip: See which facility your insurance covers.
7. Police Station
I hope you this is one place you never need to visit. Whether or not you interact with the law enforcement on campus (for any reason), it's still good to know they are there.
College costs money. Sooner than later, you're going to be low on cash. Scout out a bank or ATMs to make withdrawals.
9. Tutoring Center
Whether you need someone to look over an essay or explain how to take a derivative, there are people ready and willing to help you. Meeting with a tutor doesn't mean you're stupid; it means you're smart enough to ask for a hand. If you have a feeling that a class might be tough, find a tutor before you get behind.
10. Advisor's Office
Meeting with your advisor is the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for success this year. They can help you decide your major, plan your classes for the next four years or generally give you advice. Their office can be an invaluable resource. If you haven't been to see your advisor yet, stop in and introduce yourself right away!
Though these places are not glamorous, they are essential. I know it's the beginning of the semester, and it's easy to think you'll never need a tutor or a nurse. But according to Murphy's Law, you will get hit with overwhelming calculus problem or a case of strep throat. So take a lesson from the Boy Scouts, and be prepared! Think of this as the most practical scavenger hunt of your life.
Lead Image Credit: Jake Ingle via Unsplash