The realization that this is my last year of college is starting to hit me and not because of constant reminders that getting a job out of school will be anything but a breeze. Instead, it’s the freshmen showing me how far I’ve come since the days of awful parties, dorm life and uncomfortable social encounters.
As I walked up to countless students attempting to spark conversations about what their concerns are and what advice they’re dying to get, I noticed something unsettling: Students don’t know how to talk to each other without turning bright red or stumbling over their own words. And the least confident of all? The newbie Owls — the ones who I assumed to have the most questions about classes, campus life and relationships.
As a freshman, I can recall being just as flustered when a stranger approached me. The fear of being judged or taunted would take over, and I would try to escape the situation as quickly and gracefully as possible. But the truth was, I desperately needed the help of my peers. I was clueless on where the best places to eat were, lost on how to get involved in clubs and totally dumbfounded when it came to meeting eligible guys.
Now, as a senior, I regret not using my naivety to my advantage and asking every upperclassman how to make my college career more enjoyable.
My major tip to those early in their college career is this: Do not be afraid. Us seniors don’t bite. In fact, most of us love to share our knowledge, because let’s face it — we can all be a little bit egotistical. So next time someone approaches you offering help, take it. It doesn’t matter if you have the remnants of your breakfast’s cream cheese smeared on your face — which I find totally adorable — we’re here as your personal guides, your mentors and, potentially, your friends.
Here are some questions I managed to squeeze out of you adorable-yet-hesitant students.
Q: How can I make sure I’m always with a group of people when walking at night?
A: I’m glad you asked because unfortunately, a lot of students don’t even think about their own safety, especially after a long night of drinking jungle juice. Fortunately for you, it’s pretty simple. When you’re going out to a party on a weekend night, many of which are off campus, make sure you bring at least one friend and, before you start throwing back shots of vodka, make a pact to stay together or at least meet back up by the end of the night. Afraid your friend is going to end up wandering off with that cute blonde who will be at the party? Then make sure you know someone else going who lives close by. When it comes down to it, if you don’t have any friends who are willing to make sure you’re safely getting home, then they’re not the type of people you want to be hanging out with. And as a last resort, you can always ask the owners of the house you’re most likely trashing if you can crash on their couch. Hell, it’s a better option to sleep on their vomit-encrusted floor than traveling through North Philly alone at night.
Q: Where’s a good place to take girls in North Philly on a date with a college student budget?
A: As a girl, I can assure you that the cost of two subway tokens in order to get your date out of North Philly is worth it. If a guy escorted me to the Draught Horse or Maxi’s, I would scope out the nearest escape route and subsequently scope out the closest guy who had enough class to bring me to Center City. I understand that we’re all on tight budgets, and it can be hard to charm a girl when you have less than $20 to your name, but there are options out there.
My boyfriend and I are huge fans of picnics. Not only are they cheap, but they can be super romantic given the right location. Cook something simple like pasta and chicken, pack it up and then throw in a comfy blanket and surprise your date by bringing her to your favorite Philly park. You get bonus points if you time it out so you’re dining as the sun is setting. We appreciate the little things.
Q: How can I meet a guy when I’m working three jobs and going to school four days a week?
A: Are you kidding me? You have a better chance of meeting a guy than those of us who have enough time to party three nights a week. If I’ve learned anything from my early years at Temple, it’s that no healthy relationships bloom from keggers or clubs. If you have a major you love – which I hope every student does – then your classes can be the perfect dating hot spot. You can meet someone with similar interests and have billion topics to spark a conversation. And depending on your job, it’s pretty easy to meet people at work. As a waitress, I’ve served some pretty cute guys in the past and if you have the courage to ask someone out – and you should because there’s nothing hotter than a confident gal – you can turn your workplace into your mating grounds. Just don’t let your boss know that you’re getting a little more than that measly minimum wage.
Cary Carr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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