The first week of school can be a stressful transition, whether you’re a freshman still getting lost on campus or a senior who’s done this countless times before. There were probably some things you could have done to prepare (we’ve all done that last-minute packing job) but it’s too late for that now! So here are some tips to get you through the first couple of weeks while you’re living it.
1 . Don’t take on everything this week
It’s tempting to start the new school year filled with hopes and intentions of promptly reviewing your notes after class or going to the gym every day at 7am or getting a promotion at the coffee shop where you’re a barista. But know yourself. This week is stressful. Is going to the gym that early going to sacrifice some much-needed hours of sleep? Or is it going to invigorate you and give you the energy to get through a full day? Everyone is different – but ask yourself honestly. Taking on too many life-changing resolutions during this first week puts stress on top of stress and means those lifestyle changes probably won’t last. Give yourself time to unpack, get your academic and work schedules set, and see the friends you’ve been away from for 3 months. You can incorporate changes to your routine next week.
2. Go to bed
If your school has a strong ~syllabus week~ vibe to the first few days/weeks of school, it can feel a little bit like an ultra-extended weekend. Resist the temptation to party every single night and try to get your sleep schedule for the semester started. There are going to be people who stay out til 4:30am, go to 8:30 class, and then promptly head back to sleep since they don’t have any homework yet, but try not to be one of them. Get to bed at a reasonable hour during this delightful time when you’re pulling all nighters. You’re body will thank you now as well as later for developing this easy healthy routine.
3. Talk to your roommates
Maybe you’re a freshman and have just been matched with a rando, maybe you are a senior and finally living in an apartment with friends. Regardless, you need to have some conversations: about respecting space and belongings, routines of the house or room, the protocol on having someone sleep over, who buys hand soap, whether they should wake you up if they noticed you slept through class, etc. Having these (sometimes uncomfortable) conversations now during the first week rather than later makes you feel more comfortable in your living space, which is crucial during the stress of the first week.
4. Spend time outside
Today is September 9th and it is 90 degrees in Southern New England. Tomorrow is September 10th and who knows, there could be a blizzard. Make the most of the combination of great weather and not-a lot-of-work. Does your campus have a hill or lawn where everyone congregates in nice weather? Go hang out there for a little while. Or go for a walk into town or drive to a nearby state park. Spending some time in the fresh air and sunshine is relaxing and restorative and is the perfect no-pressure way to hang out with your friends. Making the most of these last few days of summer also prevents some regret later in the semester, when snow and mid-terms have you trapped in the library looking wistfully at the green.
5. This will pass
In a few weeks, the start of school will seem like a faint memory. You will get back into the swing of classes. You will remember how to take notes. You will find the toilet paper you swear you brought (or just steal some from the science center). You will reconnect with friends, old and new. So keep breathing and eating and sleeping and going to class and you’ll find the semester is moving along just fine.