The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

The freshman year: fun, mistakes, memories

4 min read

The final weeks of August evoke memories of freshman year for many college graduates and upperclassmen. New friends, enemies, mistakes and fun are all a part of what these UMW students and alumni recall.

Yesterday a brand new group of the collegiate bound entered the freshman halls at UMW to create their own memories.

Meeting New People
Meeting new people and making new friends are the themes of the first week of college, when hall events, orientation groups and ice-breakers have everyone constantly talking. Eric Steigleder, who graduated last spring, said he remembers feeling the pressure.

“So much emphasis is placed on ‘meeting new people,’ at college that you’re made to feel inept if you don’t have three new best friends by the end of the day,” he said.

Steigleder’s advice is to relax. “Be yourself and you’ll meet plenty of people.”

Senior Amanda Gold, agreed that it’s important to take the pressure off.

“Know that everyone is looking to make friends, so if you’re the one going up to people no one will think you’re weird,” she said. “They’ll think you’re confident and appreciate it.”

Although there are multiple events and chances to meet different people, it’s possible to fall into the rut of only hanging out with roommates. Kay Boatner, ‘08 said it’s important to recognize this, and not to let it happen.

“Get to know your suite and hall-mates too,” Boatner said. “You never know, your new BFF could be right next door!”

Senior James White has fond memories of friends from his freshman year in Jefferson Hall.

“Personally I’ve never met anyone like the people I lived with in Jefferson Hall,” he said. “It was definitely an adventure getting to know everyone.”

Senior Erin McCarthy is still close with many people she met her freshman year.

“You really do meet people who will be important to you all four years of college,” she said.

According to White, “Freshman year was all about experiences.” He recalled his own experience of living on the fourth floor of Jefferson Hall in 2007.

“Some of the most interesting things happened when we all just sat in the common room,” he said. “There was no T.V., no entertainment. It was like we were stranded on an island and just dealt with whatever our differences were.”

Steigleder too, remembers spending many hours in the common room with friends.

“You learn pretty quickly that you basically live in a gigantic commune that happens to have classes,” he said.

Freshman dorms put lots of people in small spaces, and according to Boatner, this creates a recipe for lasting memories.

Two years after her graduation, the first memory that came to her mind was a prank war that went on in Mason Hall her freshman year.

“[It] went on for months,” she said. “I remember coming back to my room to find that everything was saran wrapped. Everything–my bed, my shoes, my toothbrush, etc. We retaliated by running string all over their room so they couldn’t walk in there. Good times.”

“Freshman year is about adapting to a totally new environment and making the most of it,” McCarthy said.

She thinks that getting involved with the people and events in your dorm and campus are the best ways to adapt.

Gold agreed. She recommended going to the Club Carnival to get a taste for what the campus has to offer.

“College is what you make of it so get involved,” Gold said. “There are so many clubs for every interest.”

Boatner said it’s important to have fun, enjoy the college experience and not be too strict.

“Do skip a class once in a while,” Boatner said. “And not just to catch up on homework for another one.”

Danielle Peters, another recent graduate, recommends spending some free time in downtown Fredericksburg, checking out the town and the people.

“There’s so much to discover,” she said. “I graduated and I’m still finding new restaurants and places to hang, as well as great people.”

Downtown is within walking distance, but the Fred bus that has a stop on campus, is used by students without cars to get to the shops in Central Park or the mall.

Senior Amber Goldwasser warns to use caution while relying on the Fred.

“Beware of [it],” she said. “It can be great transport, but it doesn’t come on time all the time.”

Senior Rachel Owen advised to try to get along with roommates, even if it’s difficult. But after the first semester reconsider if it’s working or not.

“Don’t be afraid to move out,” Owen said.

There is a lot of shifting after the first semester: some people drop out, or transfer or move, so there’s always new dorms open.
Owen ended up moving in with a friend whose roommate transferred and said she had a much better second semester.

She also recommends making friends with the RA on your hall.

“You’ll know when fire drills are,” she said.

Though every freshman will have good and bad memories of their first year at UMW, McCarthy said that for her, most of it was positive.

“Freshman year was so memorable because of all the change that took place,” McCarthy said. “And most of it was really awesome change.”

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