Becoming a Johnnie: some advice for first year students

I was eating at Acquista with my dad the Friday night of move-in weekend. He and I were sitting at a table near two mothers who just dropped off their first-year sons at St. John’s. As my dad and I were just about to leave the restaurant, one of the mothers asked for advice and any helpful information I might have about St. John’s.

I didn’t have a great answer at the time, but I just might know enough to help you freshmen and transfers who are getting adjusted to life on Utopia Parkway.

Move-in day may seem like a long time ago now that you have a full slate of classes to attend, clubs to be active in and jobs to be at, but maybe you are still uncomfortable in this new, somewhat foreign setting.

College is quite the transition from high school, so it naturally takes more than a week and a half to adjust to life at St. John’s and even – for those of you who aren’t local – New York.

What shouldn’t you do in your first few weeks here? Do not spend all your free time in your room. Go outside on the Great Lawn – or the lesser lawn, which is adjacent to it – and soak in the sun before the snow arrives. In a couple months you’ll have plenty of time to stay indoors, so take advantage of the pleasant weather whilst you can.

Spend some time in DAC and make a few friends by inviting them to sit with you in the lounge, as empty seats can be difficult to find. There are plenty of sporting events for you to go to as well, especially in the fall semester. Supporting the volleyball and soccer teams while earning some redeemable MVP points is a great way to get out and do something fun. Join RedZone behind the goal post or catch them at a barbeque before the game and take advantage of the free food while wearing your Johnnies colors.

Not to mention the school hosted Club Rush just the other day, so make an effort to participate in each of the clubs you joined. You may or may not feel comfortable at first, but just give it some time and you may find something that you want to stick with for your four years here. If you’re out and about on this campus then you’ll learn to love its quirks and have your own spots that are special to you.

Have a sense of adventure, too. Wednesdays are the best days to go out, depending on how your schedule is. Take care of that long morning class and go for a stroll in the city or perhaps go to a museum and get back in time for your night class. Take advantage of the time while you can, because your Wednesdays will eventually turn into longwinded work sessions.

In full disclosure, I shied away from the mass transit system here in New York City in my first year because it was a concept that I simply could not wrap my head around. In California I’d have my car, hop in and just take off in any direction I wanted without being at the mercy of a bus schedule, alas, I do not have one here.

If you’re in New York for the first time in your life (like I was), then it may be a good idea to get a firm grasp on the different lines that circulate the city. I suggest starting at the more well-known spots like Times Square-42nd St. or Rockefeller Plaza and walk around to get yourself familiar with the whereabouts. From there it’s pretty easy to find some notable sites like Central Park and Grand Central Terminal – just always remember that avenues run north and south and streets run east and west.

Sure, this university and city may seem foreign to you right now. But what’s great is that you can expand your comfort zone to the point where St. John’s and New York City become a part of your identity. It’s an organic process. It’s just up to you to be open to the changes that come with it.