Freshman Flashback

24 Sep

The transition from high school to college is a passage of life. We all make mistakes, but in return, we grow as individuals. Students who choose to spend the next four years of their life at college campuses in Chicago are challenged with adapting to the city lifestyle while earning a degree in an internationally acclaimed landmark. Although universities like DePaul and Loyola are not considered “traditional,” we still experience college at its fullest. Whether it’s leaving home for the first time, making lasting impressions, or trying new things—we all have our great share of freshman horror stories.

Courtesy of Mike Gustafson

When entering college for the first time, there is a defining moment when you realize your life has to change. For some, change is welcomed and brings excitement. For others, it is scary and unsettling. Consider Brittany’s (Northwestern) reaction when attempting to locate her lecture halls:

After my parents helped me move into the dorms, I walked around campus with my mom to find my classes before the first day of school. After twenty-minutes of being lost, I had an emotional break down and was bawling like a baby! I never thought I could get used to college lectures and the city lifestyle.

Urban campuses can be intimidating, but it’s important to stay positive and never shy away from asking questions. Chances are that there are others who need the same guidance. One way to reduce this initial shock is to attend an info session and campus tour.

Learning how to navigate around the city is probably one of the more difficult tasks for new city dwellers. In many cases, there are students coming into Chicago from the most rural towns in Illinois, and have never seen a building larger than their high school. In addition, it is likely that students coming to Chicago from the surrounding suburbs had used a car to get around their neighborhood; but now have to adapt to taking public transportation. Stephen (Roosevelt) reflects back on his CTA experience:

My room mate and I were trying to figure out how the bus system worked because we wanted to visit my cousin at St. Xavier. We took the bus in the wrong direction and ended up somewhere on the south side in an undesirable part of the city. I hate to admit it, but I was scared shitless. Eventually we made out way back home, and I quickly learned how to ride the CTA!

It is common for students to feel discouraged from moving outside of their comfort zone, and explore Chicago as their new playground. However, keep in mind that the city isn’t as safe as your backyard and always try to travel in groups when going beyond the borders of your campus. Here are some tips for riding the CTA:

Courtesy of Kelly Martin

1. CTA Bus Tracker–>provides estimated arrival times for all CTA buses.

2. CTA Trip Planner–> A website that offers multiple transportation routes and estimated traveling times to any Chicago destination.

3. Google Maps–>Provides directions to people, but they let you choose your transportation method: car, public transit, walking, and biking.

After successfully locating your classes and conquering the CTA, some students seek a chance to start over and meet new people.  Joining a study group or going out with a friend from school are good ways to build your character. In the process though, some of us still manage to stumble into unflattering situations. Here is Jackie’s (Robert Morris) freshman flashback:

I was freaking out about my first college statistics exam, so I decided to join a small study group that my TA put together. I had just arrived from lunch to find that 12 of us had to cram into a small meeting room. While we were silently solving an equation, I had leaned over to get a closer look at my book when a small fart surprisingly slipped out! I figured it would be easier to make a joke out of it, except no one else found it humorous. I could have died right there on the spot!

"Man, I love college."

Courtesy of Beer Universe

Aside from freshman freak-outs, bus disasters, and classroom bloopers, what is the one thing most parents tried to prevent you from doing in high school? Under-aged drinking. College is a period in life where drinking is not only socially acceptable, but encouraged. Greek mixers, residential halls, and off-campus living are prime places for new freshmen to get experience the college party scene. These next few flashbacks speak from themselves:

“A frat at our school was throwing a recruiting party for new freshmen. It was my first time drinking jungle juice and slimmy jello shots from paper cups! Very classy. After a night of heavy binge drinking, a friend had to come get me from the dorms and drove me back home for the night. My parents found me passed on out the toilet, and proceeded to take incriminating photographs! Thanks mom and dad.”

–Alyssa, Depaul

“I went to this party at DePaul with a group of guys who lived on my floor freshman year. My friend was completely blasted, and had a genius idea of putting his hand on the dart board and getting others to take turns at throwing the dart between his fingers. Predictably, it was a disaster.”

–Mike, Loyola

“My friend is kind of an extremist. During one of our drunken adventures, he anxiously wanted to jump off a lecture building with a parachute (how he got it remains unknown). Needless to say, he made it out alive, but prefers to stay grounded.”

Jordan, DePaul

“I became close friends with my room mate freshman year, and wanted to throw him a party for his birthday. Our floor got along well, and since we lived in a cluster we decided to get a keg and have people over. We managed to get the keg into the dorm, but since we were too loud the RA busted us. As punishment, I had to attend several alcohol classes…on Saturday mornings. I was hung over at all of them.”

–Eric, UIC

For those of us getting ready to graduate, we wish we could return to the splendid days of freshman year; when all of our classes were 100 level and professors were more understanding of our clueless status. Freshman year is a time to have fun, meet people, explore, and face the unknown. The most challenging part of freshman year is adapting to change. During this process, we experience the good, the bad, and the ugly. The purpose of “freshman flashback” is to let you know that you’re not alone, and to look back on freshman year as one of the best in your life!

Here are some additional FRESHMEN FLASHBACK for your amusement:


“I visited my University the summer before I started, and got invited to a nearby house party. I was crunk [look it up on urban dictionary] as hell and after many drinks my bladder was on overload! When leaving the party my friend made me laugh so hard I had to relieve myself immediately—right outside the house. Although I thought I was in the clear, two guys witnessed my public affair!”

–Autumn, UIC


“My friend and I were at our college recreational center for a free yoga class. We were trying to do this complicated tree pose, but lost our balance and ended up clunking heads with each other. I was laughing so hard that I peed my pants in front of the entire class! My friends will never let me live it down.”

–Trisha, North Western


“Soon after I was recruited into my fraternity, we threw a mixer with the sorority girls. It was one of the girls’ birthdays and she was, for a lack of better words, shit-faced. She wanted to try a keg stand, but managed to loose her grip and crashed onto the basement floor; where she lay past out on the ground covered with inches of spilled beer and trash. She quickly recovered, but that was still by far the best face-plant I ever witnessed!”

–Rauhl, Loyola


It was my first weekend at school when I attended a beach theme party. The guys that were throwing it stayed in an off-campus fraternity apartment. They had filled the entire living room with 800 lbs of sand, and provided jungle juice and beer to eager freshmen. Not before long, the place was over packed and police were eventually called. Luckily, I had made friends with a guy on the third floor, and a group of us retreated to his porch. There was literally kids pouring out of the place, ditching their drinks, and jumping over fences! Watching the cops chase students like cat and mouse looked like a scene right out of a movie. That was a fun day at the beach. 😉



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