Congrats on your acceptance to Smith! As you prepare to come here, there are definitely some things you should try to do over the course of your first year. While you’re definitely going to be busy with exams and papers and other homework, remember to take breaks from studying and have some fun: your mental and physical health will thank you for it.
1. Tour the botanic gardens.
The botanic gardens are one of the nicest spots on campus: there’s both a greenhouse and an outdoor garden, and they both contain a bunch of different plants and flowers. Every March the gardens host a bulb show where many different kinds of tulips are on display, and when the show is over all of the plans are available for purchase (at very reasonable prices).
2. Find a study spot you love.
You’re going to be spending a decent amount of your time studying, so make sure to find a study space on campus that you love. There are several libraries on campus to choose from, and while Neilson is going under construction this summer (RIP), you’ll still have plenty of options to choose from. I really enjoy studying in Hillyer Art Library because it tends to be fairly quiet and has some cozy spots.
3. See the SEC’s annual speaker.
Every year, the Student Event Committee invites a prominent, very well-known speaker to come to the college and give an address, which is completely free for students. Last year’s was Viola Davis (which I missed by a year and which I’m not bitter about at all), and this year’s speaker was Laverne Cox. Yes, you heard that right. Yes, it was incredible. Make a point of going to this event every year you’re at Smith: it’s guaranteed to be something to remember.
4. Have PVTA-related drama at least once.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority is definitely a force to be reckoned with. While the buses are extremely helpful for getting to various places in the area (the Hampshire and Holyoke malls, the other five colleges), it isn’t the most reliable, and sometimes you’ll find yourself missing the bus completely or waiting for a bus that never arrives. If you’re pressed for time when you go out, be sure to have Uber ready in case you need it.
5. Go to events your house hosts.
Housing at Smith is different from housing at any other college: instead of living in dorms, all students live in houses. As a result, very strong communities tend to be built in each of the houses, and most will host parties and other social events throughout the year. Make a point of going to a few: it’s a great way to bond with others in your house.
6. Visit the archives.
This is going to be trickier next year when Neilson goes under construction, but the archives have a great collection of rare books and documents that you can explore. Some of the materials will be going into storage, but the rest will be available in Young Science Library for your viewing pleasure.
7. Visit the art museum.
The art museum has both permanent and changing collections and is a great place to spend a free afternoon. It’s free for students and the staff is incredible friendly.
8. Get ice cream at Herrell’s.
Is it overpriced? Yes. But it’s quality ice cream, and it’s a great place to go with your friends when you need a break.
9. Have at least one confrontation with a squirrel daily.
There’s something about the squirrels on Smith’s campus that makes them want to confront students rushing to class. Be prepared to dodge the squirrels throughout your day because if they see you coming, they usually won’t get out of the way.
10. Go to at least one sporting event.
We have several great Division III teams and while sports aren’t a huge aspect of campus life, our teams perform well and deserve support. Try to get out to at least one game to support the school.
11. Go to at least one student musical or theatre performance.
Smith has a wide range of musical and theatre organizations that put on regular performances throughout the year. There are several orchestra and choral concerts, as well as plays, so definitely go to one (or several) of those at some point your first year.
12. Be redirected because of construction at least weekly.
This campus is perpetually under construction. In this year alone, there’s been construction on the main entrance to the college, the pipelines by Seelye Hall, the road in front of Stoddard and the walkway by Wright Hall, and with Neilson being completely renovated starting next year, the detours are only going to get worse. Leave your house with more than enough time to get to class, and be prepared to find workers and traffic cones in every direction you turn.
13. Learn how to evacuate for fire drills quickly.
The Smith houses were built a very long time ago, which means that some of them are literally insulated with straw. This means that in the case of a fire, they’re going to burn down really fast. Learn how to quickly evacuate your house in the event of a fire drill because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Best of luck with the coming year! Remember to take time to relax, and when you have some free time, try to knock some of these items off the list. Happy exploring!
Lead Image Credit: Nancy Canevari