By EMELINE ARMITAGE
1. Wear closed-toed shoes to frat parties.
Every time I see a freshman I have the urge to take them aside and hug them and tell them all the advice I heard last year and ignored. Every Friday at 10 p.m. I see clusters of freshman girls in crop tops and cute shorts with perfectly curled hair (I promise you it’s pointless given the sweaty beer-infused ether only a frat party can produce), and the maternal instinct I thought was going to be dormant for at least 10 years emerges. “Don’t go!” I scream internally. It’s unsafe out here! Go back inside and wrap yourself in a blanket and let me be your Virgil through the multiple Circles of Hell that constitute this collegiate Inferno! Yet they ignore my silent pleas and pretentious literary references, opting instead to go drink vats of neon colored mysteries while a crumbling, thumping basement swallows their inhibitions.
2. Be nice to the food workers, security guards and custodial staff. Not only will you be a decent human being but being friendly with the people who know the campus better than anyone has its perks.
Last year I might have been the only freshman on campus to start a fire in the cafeteria. It was a small fire caused by stupidly putting a buttered bagel into the toaster, but a humiliating fire nonetheless. I would like to think joking about stupidity and profusely apologizing helped avoid the ire of the people whose workplace I had almost burned to the ground. Last week, I noticed a group of freshmen outside CharMar debating whether or not there was Meals-in-a-Minute on the weekend. I immediately stopped walking and, with a sympathetic smile, recited everything I knew about the meal plan policy. (I did leave out, however, that “hypothetically” the cashiers “theoretically” might allow you to use a meal swipe when you technically are not supposed to or allow you to grab an extra item if you are nice enough. But karma will sort that advice.) After I finished my diatribe, the freshmen said thanks and began to walk away. My eyes followed them, begging them to ask me to spread more of my non-freshman wisdom to no avail.
3. Don’t procrastinate. Do the readings beforehand. Go to office hours regularly.
You will procrastinate. You will not do the readings beforehand. You will not go to office hours regularly. I’ve given all this advice and strive to follow it, yet I continue to procrastinate, rarely do the readings beforehand and even more rarely go to office hours. I am writing this article mere hours before I should turn it in. I’ve been too lazy to go to Barnes and Noble so my six classes have been sharing one small notebook. I ate popcorn and ice cream for dinner. I went to my friend’s suite yesterday, and two people were drinking out of bowls because of a lack of cups. Here’s my advice: No one has their sh*t together and neither do you. Unless you are part of the annoying group that goes to sleep every night at 10 p.m. and has read ahead several chapters, you will not get enough sleep, you will have to pull either a near or full-blown all-nighter at least once, you will do no work on Friday and Saturday and wake up on Sunday at 2 p.m. in a full-blown panic. Just try to minimize the damage.
4. Remember your mistakes so you can bombard half-interested freshmen with anecdotal advice.
The time: September 2014. The place: Johns Hopkins undergraduate campus. A freshman girl stares at the map in her hand and, in near tears, wanders around trying to find Hodson Hall to get to her economics class. She mistakes Garland Hall for Hodson on her map and walks up and down Garland’s staircase desperately searching for her classroom (for the directionally challenged: Garland is the building that looks like it was designed by Mussolini). A year later, she reflects on the event as she sees freshmen stare at their phones and then, with dazed eyes that dart from building to building, try to find their class. “I remember that feeling,” she whispers to herself. “I will help that poor lost lamb. Thank God I got lost last year so I can use that story to express solidarity with these new arrivals. My mistakes were not just stupid blunders!” Her voice crescendos into a yell. “My mistakes were not meaningless!” Her comforting realization echoes in the near empty quad as she rushes over to the confused freshman, full of anecdotal wisdom that she will bestow with fervor.
5. Tolerate me.
Just smile and nod. I get a rush of adrenaline when I give advice. The helpful lectures I give unwilling freshmen are emblematic of my growth and knowledge. Never mind that I still get lost in Krieger Hall and that a lot of the freshmen are older than me and we are all walking fleshy manifestations of ignorance. Let me be patronizing and condescending and exist in the delusion that I know what I’m talking about. Indulge me, as I will take my own advice and now indulge myself:
6. Making friends with locals and upperclassmen has endless benefits.
7. A great way to show how ignorant you are is to make comments or jokes about how scary and dangerous Baltimore is.
8. Find friends who have the same regional accent that you are mocked for (side note: it’s pop, not soda; it’s pronounced aygg and layg not ehg and lehg; and, for my fellow Clevelanders, the strip of grass in between the sidewalk and road is called a tree lawn.)
9. A lot of people don’t know that the Heath and Wellness Center has discounted name brand condoms and Plan-B should the need arise.
10. Like a lot of student groups on Facebook — especially the cultural ones — to discover events with free food.
11. Read The News-Letter and other student media to keep up with events on campus.
12. Take the train or bus to the airport instead of spending $30 on a cab or Uber and annoying everyone in your class Facebook group with ride requests.
13. Baking pies is fun, homey and makes everyone love you.
14. Next year, remember to advise freshmen with abandon and relish in feeling superior.