For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Apr 17 2017
by Stacy Andryshak

A Freshman's Guide to Northeastern University

By Stacy Andryshak - Apr 17 2017

Whether you're doing some early college-hunting while in high school or you're a graduating senior who has already been admitted, let me start by saying congratulations! You're looking into a really great school! The diverse student body, abundance of student organizations and ideal location makes Northeastern a networking hub where all of your interests can be combined. For all those recently admitted into the class of '21 or '22 (seriously, what do you put in your Instagram bio if you don't really know what year you're going to graduate? Oh, co-op...), keep reading for some useful tips that you should know about and make use of before considering yourself a full-fledged Husky. 

1. Make Connections During Orientation

Stacy Andryshak

As opposed to many other schools, where new student orientation occurs in the few days before you start classes, Northeastern has multiple different orientation sessions (lasting two to three days depending on if you request early arrival) scattered throughout the summer. Orientation consists of meeting your advisors and getting your first class schedule, sleeping in one of the residence halls (usually not the one you'll stay in for the rest of the year), sitting through a few informational lectures and getting familiar with the campus.

Orientation can be overwhelming, but luckily, you are placed in a group based on college and major to do icebreakers and explore campus with an orientation leader. Although this group will be short-lived and is the first of many you'll associate with at Northeastern, you should still make an effort to remember everyone by name. And if you end up making a good friend during those few days, even better! I've noticed a trend among freshmen where people make friends at orientation, and these are the first people they tend to meet up with again and go to all the Welcome Week activities with. These initial connections can end up being your best friends for the first semester, or even longer. 

2. Go To Welcome Week Events

During orientation, it is smart to download the app called Guidebook that Northeastern uses to list their schedule of events. These events trail into Welcome Week, which is a week of activities before classes actually begin. There is lots of free food, a few giveaways, performances, The Start of Something Great (a big celebration on Centennial Common that involves throwing packets of red, black and white colored powder in the air) and a huge activities fair. This activities fair gives you the most comprehensive guide to clubs around campus you'll probably get all year, so I would highly recommend checking it out. Even if you're uncertain about a club, it's smart to sign up for their mailing list anyway. These mailing lists will update you on where and when the clubs are meeting and can be really helpful if you decide you want to start showing up to meetings halfway through the semester. So, again, definitely check out the activities fair! Bring a friend and set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. 

3. Stay Consistent With Clubs

It's OK to attend a couple of meetings in the beginning and realize a club isn't for you, but once the semester is in full swing, pick one or two and really stick with them. Don't get too ambitious, because you'll end up spreading yourself too thin to really apply yourself to any of the clubs you're interested in. Putting a lot of time and effort into a smaller number of clubs will enable you to make stronger connections and better contributions. If you end up getting a job (or other responsibility) and can no longer attend weekly meetings, let the president of the club know and they will keep you up to date, as well as share any opportunities for you to otherwise help out.

4. Learn To Strategically Avoid Long Lines On Campus

@Northeastern via Twitter

Upon arriving on campus, you'll immediately notice that there are some times that are much worse than others to go get a sandwich at Rebecca's or a drink at Starbucks. If you only have a short lunch break in-between classes, or you know there'll be a situation where you need to buy food in a hurry, plan ahead. In my experience, the line for the Starbucks in Curry (the student center) is surprisingly pretty short around 9 a.m., and much worse in the afternoon, around 1 p.m. The mail room in Speare (ResMail) is also ridiculously busy at the beginning of the fall semester because everyone is getting last minute dorm items delivered. Make sure you'll have 30 minutes to spare if you do end up waiting in that line. You will start noticing trends like those examples pretty early on around campus, and avoiding lines (or just accepting that you'll have to wait in them) will become second nature. 

5. Explore Boston

Stacy Andryshak

As you can see from the above picture I took from the top of a North End parking garage, you'll have the entire city of Boston at your fingertips when you get to Northeastern. Take advantage of any Welcome Week opportunities to do tourist-y things, like a duck tour or guided sightseeing trip. Don't just stop there, use classes and bonding time with friends as an excuse to go somewhere new. The above picture was for my Intro to Film Production class, for which I ended up visiting the North End, the New England Aquarium, Boston Common, Cambridge and a piece of the Freedom Trail all in one day. 

6. Practice Good Etiquette

In Snell Library, make sure your Husky Card is out and ready to tap in to the library before you actually walk inside so you don't hold everyone up. Also, the doors to get into Snell are really hard to open, especially the one on the right. The left door is a little easier, and if there are a lot of people trailing behind you, it is smart to use the accessibility button to keep the right one open. My last piece of advice for Snell is not to be annoying on the third or fourth floor. They're called the quiet and silent floors for a reason. Stay on the first or second floor if you want to talk with friends, or better yet, find somewhere more appropriate than Snell to hang out. 

While crossing Huntington Avenue, it's fine to walk when there are no cars posing an immediate threat to your safety. There is a pattern to the stoplights (obviously) that you'll pick up which allows you sufficient time to walk across the street even if the walk sign has not come up yet.  It's best to follow groups of other people until you get the hang of it. Also, the T (subway) conductors sometimes wait for students to walk past the tracks if it is already stopped, but if you get in front of the T while it's starting to move, it will definitely honk at you. I can't speak for anyone else, but that noise makes me jump every time. Don't be the reason the T makes that noise. Also, while we're on the subject of the T, if you're going to be living in Boston you have to get a CharlieCard. Public transportation like the subway and buses can all be paid with the tap of a prepaid CharlieCard, which you can pick up at Ruggles, the Orange Line stop on Northeastern's campus. 

When using an empty classroom as a study space, don't leave it a mess. Classrooms are a free-for-all to study in when classes aren't going on, and are fun group study spaces if you want a lot of room, a projector or a chalkboard. I usually like to camp out for a few hours in Snell's underground classrooms with a ton of food. However, it's really not cool to leave a mess afterward. What you could have just prevented becomes more work for the custodians and makes other people refrain from using the room after you. 

When walking down the sidewalk, do not just stop in the middle to talk to friends. Nothing is more annoying than being stuck on a busy sidewalk right before class because everyone has to try to walk around a person who stopped in the middle of the road. If you realize you have to do something while on the sidewalk, move off to a side. Looking down at your phone too much is another annoying walking habit that can get you in trouble. Aside from other people walking to class, there are a select few that bike, skateboard, scooter or even unicycle. Make sure to constantly be aware of your surroundings, so that you don't get in the path of any of the people that could potentially run you down while traveling to class. 

7. Ask A Lot Of Questions In Your Intro To Northeastern Class

Startup Stock Photos via Pexels

Most first semester freshmen or transfer students must take a small "______ at Northeastern" class, specifically tailored to their major. For example, I had to take "Communications Studies at Northeastern," an hour a week with my department chairs and a few fellow students. This class is really easy to take for granted because of how short it is and the fact that one of my homework assignments was to go get a cannoli from a local bakery with some of my classmates.  However, these classes offer a great opportunity to pick your department chair's brain, and we often talked about relevant information like upperclassman housing options and the coolest co-ops past students have gone on. During these classes, ask anything you're still unsure about pertaining to your major or how Northeastern works as a whole. 

8. Use All Your Meal Swipes

With 10, 15 or 19 meals per week and three dining halls to choose from, a whole semester of meals can become monotonous. I often don't use all my meal swipes, and I only have 10 per week. Besides the dining halls, meal swipes can be used at The West End in Curry, Rebecca's in Churchill Hall and Outtakes between Stetson East and West. With so many places to go, you really should use all of your meal swipes throughout the week. Meal swipes reset on Saturday nights, with Sunday morning marking the beginning of a new cycle, so plan accordingly. If you have a ridiculous amount of swipes left and don't think you'll need any more food for the week, you could even consider doing what the student above did to put his meal swipes to good use.  

9. Have One Staple Winter Jacket

Before coming to Boston, I knew it would get cold, but I didn't exactly need the five layers of pants that some people online warned would be necessary. There are often wind tunnels between buildings (especially between Ruggles and International Village. I'm cold just thinking about it.) that take otherwise manageable temperatures below zero. Having a good thick jacket with a hood that stays up and a high-zipping neck makes all the difference in frigid conditions. Popular brands of jackets include Canada Goose and North Face, and I was able to find a good one from Calvin Klein. 

10. Get A Card Holder

Stacy Andryshak

That thing in the picture above that's stuck to my phone? It's literally a lifesaver. I take my phone with me everywhere, and if my Husky Card is literally attached to it, there is no way I'll get locked out of my dorm. Some clubs hand these card holders out for free during Welcome Week (which is why I'm repping the Center for Community Service), but you can also grab one at the bookstore. On a daily basis, I keep my credit card, Husky Card, driver's license, and CharlieCard in mine, making a card holder extremely effective at keeping important contents together.  

11. Stay Connected On Social Media

There are too many Northeastern social media handles to count, but the above infographic lists a few of the most active and useful ones. The student organizations listed here will warn you via social media before doing giveaways or handing out free stuff around campus. If you're one to want constant updates on what's happening around campus, these are useful to keep an eye on. 

12. Don't Ignore Big Campus Events

Athletics, concerts, performances and rallies occur at Northeastern to the point where it can get overwhelming. There are different events for everyone, so don't feel pressured to attend anything. If there is something that interests you, however, don't hesitate to go with friends or on your own. You're bound to meet people with similar interests if you go to an event you think is cool with an open mind. If it's a large enough occurrence, like the Council for University Programming's annual Springfest concert advertised above, it'll be a hot topic of conversation for a few days before and after. 

Of course, there are many more ins-and-outs you'll get to know along the way at Northeastern, but it'll be more fun to figure them out if I don't tell you them all now. Most importantly, make sure to explore campus, make the most of your opportunities and don't take yourself too seriously. Northeastern Huskies can be competitive, but that just means we strive for the best. Your freshman year is a time to experiment with interesting classes, take on new extracurricular activities and meet incredibly diverse people. 

Lead Image Credit: Stacy Andryshak

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Stacy Andryshak - Northeastern University

Stacy is a freshman pursuing a combined major in Communication Studies and Media & Screen Studies at Northeastern University. In high school, she spent most of her free time acting in dramas and musicals. She enjoys obscure vegan restaurants, British soap operas, and her pet rabbit. Find her on: Instagram @stacy.a / Twitter @standryn

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