Page Two’s guide to keepin’ fresh, man

Image By: Nick Vander Woude

The Daily Cardinal extends a warm welcome to each of you. We know how fun, challenging and outrageous this year can be, so we have four pro tips to help you get through the inevitable fun, failure and freedom that will come with your first year as a Badger.  

Advocate for yourself

During your time at University of Wisconsin-Madison, you will repeatedly hear the “so many great resources” spiel. Why? Because it’s true. At this university, there are tons of resources and scores of friendly people eager to help you out. Also at UW-Madison? Tens of thousands of other students. Consequently, while the options—down to the ice cream selection—are limitless, nobody is going to know what you want unless you speak up.

It sounds cliché, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially when it comes to course material. That’s not to say you need to shoot your hand up in lecture, but if you don’t understand something, go up to the professor or TA after class and ask.

And back to that point about there being lots of smart, intelligent people like you on campus: It’s easy to go unnoticed. This is good when you find yourself wearing Thursday’s clothes to Friday’s lecture. However, sometimes people who see a lot of students with similar concerns (advisors, professors, etc.) might forget who you are or not have time to meet with you. Help yourself out either by finding the answer to your question (look online, ask a friend) or by persistently asking until you’re satisfied with the given solution.

Fail like a pro

Between sunny days on the Terrace, late-night real talks with your floormates, oh, and learning from some of the smartest people in the world, college is going to be a blast.

But some bad news: You are going to fail. So will your friends. I did and, try as I might, I keep failing. It’s natural and to be expected.

Hear me out. When I say fail, I mean you will try things and not succeed.  

We’ll spare you the snoretastic details, but we—and any upperclassman—could fill a page with things we got wrong, stuff we should have done differently and times when we didn’t try hard enough.

In fact, some of our first major Wisconsin experiences were “failures”: some of us tried out for the UW Band and didn’t make it. Some of us weren’t accepted into our degree program. A few of us had to end  a serious relationship. Poop city.  Sort of. It wasn’t all bad, though, because we learned a few things from those experiences. 

Lesson A) If you want something, you have to work for it and maybe try more than once. Lesson B) If you try something and find it’s not for you, it’s OK to despair and eventually move on.

So, after a rough day, pick yourself up and get ready to rock whatever’s next.

Learn to self-regulate

College is awesome. It is a chance to fly free of rules imposed by teachers, parents and peers. It is easy to take advantage of the lifestyle provided by newfound independence, however, it is important to remember the basics of self-care.

It’s true—pizza is cheaper than salad. Condoms don’t seem as comfortable as bare skin. And going out all weekend sure is fun. But each of these comes with consequences that are not always healthy for our bodies.

We know, we know, being healthy and cautious can seem boring. We are not encouraging anyone from backing away from new experiences or letting health consciousness rule each day. Eat the pizza. Have condomless sex (once aware of your partner’s birth control in heterosexual relationships and STI status). Go out on Friday and Saturday. But maybe walk to class instead of taking the bus. Study during the day Saturday and Sunday to make up for lost time. And drink water. All the time.

The moral of the story is one we have all heard for years. Indulge, but try not to overdo it. Everyone makes mistakes (read: spends the night with their head in the toilet) but those are learning experiences that help us learn how to keep ourselves healthy and safe. 

Try new things

Our favorite thing about the UW-Madison is the breadth of people and activities—the school is so big that anything is cool if you find likeminded people. Luckily, the set up of our university is such that the only way to be cool is to find—and embrace—what you like!

Remember, there are over 40,000 students at our fair school, so try to make your mark where you feel at home. Whether that’s in a snazzy newspaper (The Daily Cardinal, anyone?), on a club or varsity sports field or in your bedroom pwning at “League of Legends,” finding where you fit  in is part of the experience. Hopefully, you’ll make friends in college who will stick with you forever. All you have to do is find them.

That being said, take risks. Trust me, we know how hard it is to put yourself out there with new people and situations. It does not come easily for most people, but it’s important to keep in mind how incredible the benefits may be from just putting forth some effort.

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