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Freshman Survival Guide


Monday, September 12, 2016

Northwestern student blowing horn

Now that classes are in full swing, here are a few secrets to finding your groove and enjoying life in college. Upperclassmen might be surprised by some of these too!

Make Yourself at Home

If you haven't realized already, UNW has a great campus. There are a lot of things to take advantage of, planned and unplanned. On the other hand, going home every weekend could keep you from feeling engaged and settled on campus.

  • Stay on campus for the weekend. It helps to really get comfortable and engage with the community.
  • Try breakfast at the Billy—the waffles are delish.
  • Take a hike to the creek behind the athletic fields or to the trails around the island and behind the Wilson Center.
  • Discover the secret prayer tower in Naz.
  • Get to the music, gallery, theatre, and athletic events on campus!

Get Out

After getting settled on campus, make the most of the beautiful Twin Cities! Constantly rated one of the nation's best places to live, work, eat, bike, etc., Minneapolis and St. Paul's extended metro area has a metric ton of adventures waiting for you. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Grand Avenue (16 min. from campus)

This historic area of St. Paul is home to shops and restaurants both trendy and unique. Grand Avenue is part of the Historic Hill District and is near a number of other historic districts. For a bit of the meta, grab a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise" and read it outside of his old house on Summit Avenue, where he wrote it.

Northeast Minneapolis (15 min. from campus)

This area of Minneapolis sports a more urban feel than Grand Ave. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants and artist studios speckle the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Look to Central Avenue between 26th and Broadway for a great mix of cultural cuisine. Farther north on Central is the Heights Theater, a refurbished theatre from 1926 that shows new and classic films. As you get closer to the Mississippi River, on Central Ave. there are more chain restaurants and shops, but also the landmark Kramarczuk's bakery and deli and the Stone Arch Bridge.

Uptown (20 min. from campus)

Once a boho hub of the Twin Cities, this area is a mash-up of art, off-beat restaurants, cafes, and shops. The neighboring Chain of Lakes District is perfect for walking, biking, or skiing. To say it's trendy, is an understatement. Just a few blocks east, you can grab an exotic Glam Doll Doughnut and then visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which is free and can easily fill a day. Also, the American Swedish Institute is close by and offers $5 admission with a student ID.

Plug In

If you ask an alum about their college experience they will either say they loved getting involved on campus or they wish they were more involved. Plugging into community through clubs, intramural sports, and local churches is incredibly beneficial to having a rounded education. Yes, you read that correctly: your "extracurricular" involvement leads to really beneficial life experiences with deeper learning and stronger emotional intelligence. Besides that, it's fun.

Stay on Top of Your Money

Finances are tight as a college student, that is no secret. But there are things you can do and tools to use to manage your money.

  • Use a free app like Mint or Goodbudget to track spending and see exactly how much is in your accounts.
  • Utilize free resources and entertainment on campus.
  • Make your own food. $20 worth of groceries from Aldi will go a long way.

Dorm, Sweet Dorm

Living with roommates can be awesome and challenging. Good conflict management and communication is important to having a positive "home" life.

  • Don't leave dirty dishes for roommates.
  • Keep an attitude of grace and an open mind.
  • Mom was right—a clean room is nicer to live in.
  • Set expectations and communicate about frustrations early on. Passive-aggressiveness only makes issues worse.

Work Like a Pro

Putting in the work on academics will ensure that you get the most out of your college experience. Even if you are not a stellar student, being intentional and diligent will pay off in the long run.

  • Study—seriously. This seems like a no-brainer but learning to study well is a huge skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
  • Find your favorite quiet spots on and off campus: Studying is easier if you have a few designated places where you can focus. Our campus is full of nooks that are perfect for studying. Try the basement of the library, a picnic table by the lake, or the Nest to get started.
  • Take the early morning classes. If your body can handle it, take the early class. It opens up more time in the afternoons and evenings for studying and socializing. Just don't stay up too late (and now we sound like Mom).

Make Time for God

It may sound redundant since you are at a Christian school, with Christian teachers, Bible classes, and daily chapel, but this priority has never been so important in your life. Nothing can replace the time you spend alone with God. This time of meditation is crucial for applying truth and staying centered through the craziness of college life.

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