Dear UW-Madison Freshmen

By Nikki Francois on August 29, 2013

Fifteen things you baby Badgers need to know before you enter your Freshman year. 

Ah, it’s that time of year when lanyard-wearing, bright-faced Freshmen enter the world of UW-Madison. You’re probably overwhelmed with your mom nagging at you, new people rushing in and out of the dorm with their red carts, and your little sister talking about how she’s going to get your room now. Don’t worry though, you’ll get settled in in no time. Here’s some tips from a fellow Badger, who’s now entering her Junior year, on what she wished she knew freshman year.

My roommate & I on move-in day freshman year.

1. Don’t worry about making friends in the dorms.

Everyone’s so worried about making friends the first day, but don’t worry, it’s not difficult. I went around with some girls the first day to every door just to say hi to people. It made me actually get out of my comfort zone, and some of the people I met I am still friends with. Also, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to be BFFs with everyone on your floor and your roommate. I actually was super lucky Freshman and Sophomore year because both my random roommies turned out to be AWESOME and still my close friends. But, if she/he’s not what you expected, don’t fret. You’re only living with them, you don’t have to hang out with him 24/7.

Also, it’s okay stay friends with your high school friends that go to Madison. It’s good to have some comfort of knowing they are there too, but make sure you go out of that comfort zone too.

2. Take advantage of Welcome Week.

There’s so much free food that you could probably survive without buying any food this week. I’m serious. From events at both the Unions, to Night at the Overture Center (my fave),  you can easily score free food. Also, keep a look out for different colleges offering free pizza and such. Check out UW-Madison’s event calendar for more information and dates.

Of course, your dorm will have events too this week, and you should attend them. Not only for the free food, but they are FUN. You get to make new friends, get to know your hofo (that’s house fellow, incase you didn’t know), and get free food. Sounds like a win-win situation.

3. You will get home sick. 

After the first two weeks of feeling like you’re in heaven, it will hit you. Maybe it won’t hit you super hard, but you’ll all of a sudden want your mom’s dinners or talk to your brother. Don’t be afraid to call your mom and tell her you miss and love her, but also realize it is time to grow up. Once school kicks in, you’ll realize you will have no time to be sad.

4. Work hard, play hard. 

Yes, Madison is a great party school, but did you know we’re also ranked #19 WORLD WIDE academically?! So, yes, this means you do ACTUALLY have to study and work hard at school. I’m telling you, some classes will be tougher than you expect, so make time to study, study, study. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on weekends.

Halloween, an appropriate time to play hard. Yeah…that actually happened.

5. Your major will change, like ten times.

I had NO idea what I was going to major in as a Freshman. Psychology? Art? Education? Then, I took Journalism 201 and realized it was PERFECT for me. I’m concentrating in the mass communications part of the Journalism School, and after studying abroad this semester I decided to also major in French. Not exactly what I expected two years ago. Take different classes that may not seem to fit with what you want to do because you may find a different love that could lead to your perfect major.

6. Don’t invite your whole floor to a party.

So you were invited to this party of this guy who’s sister is your best friend’s boyfriend’s brother and you invited all your friends to come along? Nope, don’t think you’re actually going to get into this party with all those people. Also, do not walk in packs. We will scream FRESHMANNN at you. Very loudly.

7. Don’t scream “I LOVE COLLEGE!” at parties. 

Ok, Asher Roth, we get you. But we ALL love college. And plus, that song was so 2008.

8. Respect your house fellows (aka super cool RAs). 

Don’t think you’re going to get away with a giant party in your little dorm room. It’s not like house fellows are evil people out to get you, but just learn to respect them. I actually am friends with a lot of the house fellows from my two years in the dorms.

We actually decorated our RA’s door for his 21st birthday. #1 residents, obviously.

9. Seriously, don’t wear that lanyard.

You will look like a straight-up freshman. I’m warning you, just don’t.

10. Go to a football game, at least once.

Hell, actually all of them. I’ve gone to all 14 home games since I’ve been to school here. You’re not getting the real Madison experience unless you’ve gone to a football game. Let me tell you, football Saturdays are INSANE. From seas of red walking down the street, to drunk old people shouting at you telling you they wish they were still your age, to the frat bros beer-bonging in the streets. We were voted the #1 college sports town in America for a reason you know. You don’t even have to like football to enjoy the games.

First Badger football game in the student section!

11. But, don’t spend a million dollars on a football ticket.

Wait until the day or so before, ticket prices will drop drastically. Seriously, $100 for a ticket when face value is $30 isn’t right.

12. Learn the football traditions. 

If you only know the word “jump” in the song “Jump Around” or the words to “Varsity” not only will you look like a freshman, but you won’t get the full football experience. We also like to sing “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Ring of Fire,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Livin on a Prayer.” Google the lyrics. Now.

13. Do not sign a lease with the first “Best Friends” you meet.

Oh Madison apartments. You all think you’re top shit by making innocent freshmen sign leases SUPER fast, thus pushing them to worry and maybe make a wrong decision. There will STILL be leases open after October. Last year, I didn’t sign until finals first semester. So, don’t stress about finding people to live with PRONTO. Last year, I actually lived in the dorms once more in Smith Hall. Like omg, you were a Sophomore in the dorms?! What a loser! Actually, there’s a lot of upperclassmen in dorms like Smith and Ogg, so don’t rule that out either. I made A LOT more friends Sophomore year, and got to live the dorm experience twice.

14. Learn the highlights of this great town.

Go to the Terrace at the Union to watch Open Mic Night, attend a Comedy Club show, walk Lakeshore path (but not at night, ladies), go to State Street over and over again, go to the zoo, etc. There’s so much you can do here besides studying and partying like other college campuses only have. That’s why Madison is special.

15. Live it up. 

You’re only a freshman once (hopefully), so do everything you want to do. Make the best of friends. Figure out who you are. Do what you love. Go to hockey games. Do things that are different to you. Study hard. Eat the waffles at Gordon’s. BE A GREAT BADGER. Being a Badger is an honor, and there’s so much you can do on this great campus. So, even though this is VERY cliche, make the most of your year.

Bonus, go find Bucky and take a picture with him!

If you need any more advice, don’t hesitate to ask :) .

Hey! I'm Nikki and I'm 20 and currently attending UW-Madison. My major is Journalism and Mass Communication and I am also officially double majoring with French after a successful study abroad trip in Paris this summer. I do not eat meat (and I have not since I was five), currently have an obsession with Netflix, love Taylor Swift and British boy bands (but not when they are dating each other), and I am imploding with excitement to see Catching Fire this year.

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