Orienting students to the college experience

Hold up. We can’t do an orientation issue unless you, the freshman, are physically orientated. So what we’re going to need you to do is find a nice, sunny patch of grass on the middle section of Northrop Mall – those perma-perky campus tour people must have pointed it out to you before.

When you get there, spread out your stuff and take a couple cleansing breaths to get centered. Then stand facing Northrop Auditorium and extend your left palm straight out from your body with the palm up so the thumb points towards the chemistry building. (It may help to hum loudly at this point.)

Take your other hand and place it behind your head so that your elbow points towards the physics building. OK, are you there? Good, because you look like a goddamn idiot.

For everyone who didn’t listen to the “magical newspaper voice” in his or her heads, congratulations. All of us just learned a valuable lesson about thinking for ourselves and perhaps also an important sub-lesson about taking orientation copy too seriously.

So what I’m going to do is take all y’all under my wing and tell you the things that I would have liked to know when I was a little freshman – so naive, full of dreams and covered in baby-soft skin.

Let’s get the studying stuff out of the way first. There might come a time in your college career when you actually need to crack open them expensive books. But you know damn well you’re not going to get any studying done in your dorm room – what with your roommate’s meth lab hissing and steaming, and your raver-neighbor’s boom-tisk techno shaking open your sock drawer.

First off, don’t even try studying outside on the Mall. You’ll just end up with a crick in your neck and an errant Frisbee to the windpipe from those Ultimate geeks. Ignore the libraries and high-traffic study lounges as well. Better yet, head someplace like Nolte Hall’s lounge area, a quiet, usually deserted room with comfy couches and a cute little Internet kiosk.

When the crushing boredom of studying becomes too much to bear, you’ve got a lot of options – if you’re under 21, those options are only slightly narrowed. For cheap movies, you’ve got one of the best theatres around right off the Superblock. The Oak Street Cinema has an impressive rotation of classic and neo-classic films, documentaries and events that will blow your mind as opposed to bombarding it with retardo-rays from the latest Bruckheimer flick. People come in from the suburbs to this place; the least you can do is shuffle a block out of your dorm.

Your easy first-year classes will also give you time to tap into the Twin Cities’ rocking music scene, and you don’t have to be of drinking age, either – although it helps. The big clubs (First Avenue and The Quest) usually have some decent all-ages shows every week, but then there’s others, like Sursumcorda and Fireball Espresso, that are all-ages all the time and stocked with impressive local and national acts. Then there’s the Fine Line, Turf Club, the Dinkytowner and Bryant Lake Bowl and there are some surprisingly good jams occasionally kicked out in campus auditoriums.

If you want to buy what you heard last night, chances are Cheapo in Dinkytown has it and maybe there are some Ace Of Base albums hidden in their used stacks as well. If you can’t find it there, Let It Be, the crown jewel of Minneapolis record shops, is only a short bus-ride downtown.

Need to update that record collection but at a loss for what to buy? Tune into 770 AM Radio “K” for a couple hours and write your favorites down. When your college radio station is arguably the best station in the state, there’s no reason not to have it on your tuner’s first preset button.

For the drinkers out there, Stub & Herbs and, again, the Dinkytowner are decent campus bars – but, if you can, try venturing out a little farther in the metro area once in a while. Try Grumpy’s Northeast or Nye’s, but for God’s sake, don’t travel in packs of 70 looking for Bush Light-soaked house parties.

Most importantly, don’t lose sight of the big picture in all of the studying. You’re here to waste your parents’ money on a half-dozen aborted majors before settling on a low-paying profession with no chance of employment.

You will transform from a hippie to a punk to a beatnik from semester to semester and drink way too much, way too often, swearing off the stuff and then hitting it hard again the following week.

The following five and a half years stretch ahead of you like an endless, rolling plain, but the journey will be over too soon. Frolic now while you still can, but remain ever mindful of your grades.

Take heed, you crazy diamonds. This is your last chance to shine before your puny light is forever extinguished by a lifetime of toiling for the Carlson School over-class.


Seth Woerhle is a guest columnist. He welcomes
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