… Welcome to Penn! If you’re anything like we were just after our first NSO, you’re probably a bit lost in your new surroundings. To help you out, here’s a list of things we wish we had been told — or wish we had listened to — when we were in your shoes.
Track your progress as you get to know the campus in the scorecard (see the print edition to get one). Send us a picture of your completed card by the end of the year and we’ll throw you in a prize raffle.
The first semester can be difficult. You can be a perfectly sociable, nice person and have trouble finding friends. You can also be an incredibly smart, hard-working individual and get blindsided by your first paper. And midterm. And group project.
If you’re not immediately happy, don’t worry. There truly is a group out there for everyone. You just might not find it immediately — and that’s absolutely fine (and normal). But trust us, by second semester, things tend to work out if they haven’t yet. And you’ll still have three and a half years left.
With that in mind, the first scores are these: 5 for making three friends this semester who you’re still friends with come May; -5 for sticking with a group you don’t like because it’s convenient. On that note, your roommate doesn’t need to end up being your bestie — after all, a computer program placed you together.
At some point, many of you will be (or may already have been) sexiled by your roommate (5 if you do the sexiling). Might as well make good use of the time. Heard about the tunnels under the Quad? Now you have. Try making your way from Fisher to Riepe without going outside (5). Just don’t be the frosh that ends up in the boiler room (-5).
People have certainly told you that Penn is full of opportunities, which is true. But those opportunities have a habit of getting buried beneath your class, homework, naps and Breaking Bad. It’s sort of like going to the gym — you don’t have the time, you have to make the time.
So make the most of the opportunities that are laid out right in front of you. Find something you’re passionate about and get CURF to help fund your research project (10).
Or take a professor to lunch (5) — Econ 001’s Professor Stein is a great choice. You should also take time to attend office hours. They aren’t just for students who are struggling. They’re also for you to actually get to know the person who’s teaching your class. Don’t expect your professor to know who you are if you never introduce yourself (-5).
But if you are struggling, try the tutoring center (5). That’s what it’s there for. Outside of office hours and tutoring, find your own place to study (5). Van Pelt and Huntsman are obvious, but there are plenty of other cool study spaces — try the Law or Biomedical library.
And don’t be afraid to drop a class (5). You might have already ended up in a class you hate, or that has a paper due weekly, or one in which the professor speaks in monotone. Get out while you can. But don’t forget to add a course in its place (-5 if you don’t). We say: bite the bullet and get your writing seminar out of the way (5) — it does get a load off your back (you’ll get it soon enough).
There’s a world past DRL — David Rittenhouse Laboratories for the uninitiated — and it’s worth exploring. Start out by visiting Penn Park for a pickup game. Then venture further to a museum or a restaurant or anything downtown (5). Find a new BYO place and tell us about it (5; -10 for not going to a BYO all semester).
Or go west — it’s not as scary as you might think (5 for making it past 45th Street). Sept. 12, hit up the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, a food market where everything costs $1 (5).
But there is a reason it takes some a while to leave campus: There’s so much to do here. There are hundreds of student clubs alone. Obviously, you’ll support friends by going to their club’s activities, but there are plenty of cool clubs you don’t have friends in that still do cool things. Check out one of their shows (5).
There’s also sports. Now, if you haven’t figured out, Penn doesn’t have the most school spirit for its sports teams, but we do have some cool traditions. Go to a football game (5; -10 if you leave before the Toast Toss) — just make sure you sit far enough back not to get hit by the toast (under the awning and you’re good).
While you’re loading your schedule with everything, don’t forget to take care of yourself (that includes your liver). So eat well. And if you’ve managed to avoid the Freshman 15 (5), you can even trade in a number of your meal swipes at Hill for a whole tub of ice cream come the end of the year. That being said, Philly is known for its food trucks, and you can’t go a semester without going to some of them (-5) — we recommend Hemo’s, Magic Carpet and HubBub (one Southern editor thinks the guy there has a “great facial structure,” y’all).
By the time second semester rolls around, many of you will be thinking and going Greek. That’s awesome — if it’s for you. It never hurts to rush, but don’t pledge because you think you have to.
The main message is explore. Try new things. Be adventurous. Do things on this list, but don’t only do things other people suggest. And don’t do everything all at once. Penn’s a marathon, not a sprint (keep that in mind come Spring Fling).
Oh, and we almost forgot. Read the DP (10).
Have a great semester.
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