Why First-Year programming matters

Break the ice, and get some free stuff while you’re at it.

Hanna Bubser, Senior Collumnist

For those of you who don’t know who I am, allow me to introduce myself: my name is Hanna, and I’m a senior here at Hamline. With that in mind, let me paint a picture for you: it is a Thursday night and I am sitting on a jam-packed school bus with my three roommates. Energy is buzzing in the air, conversations are bouncing from one end of the bus to the other and windows are being tugged down in a half-hearted attempt to encourage airflow.

If I have completely lost you, let me provide some context: I was among those attending the Target Takeover, an event from Welcome Week earlier this month. I remember going to this exact same event as a first-year and having the time of my life. This year, I kept checking my watch and I bought a bottle of olive oil for my kitchen. Oh, how times have changed.

As a senior, I recognize that Welcome Week isn’t really geared towards me. It is mostly for first-years, which explains why I found myself amidst a sea of them during the Target Takeover. This also probably explains why my memories of Welcome Week are so much fonder looking back. I was new to campus and every experience was something fresh and exciting. I drank in each moment like a grande latte from Starbucks. Now, going into my final year at Hamline, I am more established. I have my people, I have my favorite places on campus and I have my routine. But I would not have any of that had it not been for events such as Welcome Week during my first year.

Don’t get me wrong, I still go to campus sponsored events. I even help run some of them through my various other roles at Hamline. But I think that for first-years in particular, these events serve an important purpose; they are an introduction to what life could be like at Hamline. Certainly they are not the be-all-end-all of your role on campus (you may not meet your best friend for life at the hypnotist show, for example), but they exist to help you feel less alone and less intimidated. As a member of the first-year class, you can take comfort in knowing that Hamline is a brand new endeavor for everyone, not just you.

It is easy to develop a “too cool for school” attitude when it comes to situations like this. Maybe I’m aging myself just by using that saying, but I was once a recent high school graduate too. I remember being thrown into orientation and rolling my eyes, wishing I could just get started with college already. It is understandable to have that outlook. As college students, we want to be treated like adults after all. If I could go back three years, I’d tell myself not to rush it. In many ways, I still don’t feel like an adult, so what made me think that I was one then? I don’t mean to bash on your maturity, first-years, but trust me: you have so much to learn. You will be a different person by the time you are in my position.

This brings me back to my main point: take advantage of the programming that is being offered to you. Student leaders all across campus put in hours upon hours of work to make these events happen for you, so put yourself out there. I remember being intimidated by this thought; as a self-proclaimed introvert, it seemed terrifying to surround myself with so many people, especially with high energy levels. But usually I was swayed because the events are free 95 percent of the time. Plus, there is usually food (I know what the inside of a first-year’s mini-fridge looks like, so you could use the extra nutrition anywhere you can get it).

As your college career progresses, the likelihood of you going to events like the ones offered during Welcome Week will go down. This has definitely happened to me. Why not go to them while the rest of your peers are going too? Meet some new people and get some free stuff, for goodness’ sake.

Your college experience is what you make of it. Starting your First Year, you decide what you do or where you go when you are not in class. You decide who you surround yourself with and what direction you want to go in. If you refuse to engage in anything on Hamline’s campus, that’s totally your choice. But consider what could happen if you did, and what you might learn along the way.