1.) Take Advantage of the Location
At Emerson College, I was lucky enough to be located in the heart of Boston. The “campus” is spread out across three downtown streets; many of the dorms and classrooms are nestled within office buildings built in the early 20th century. On Boylston Street, the busiest stretch of campus is steps away from the Boston Common, where 50 acres of urban greenery make up America’s oldest city park.
It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to cross Boylston and walk straight across the Common to Beacon Hill, where luxurious brownstones house the likes of politicians (*cough* John Kerry), financiers, and doctors. Artisan cheese shops, cozy bistros, and small boutiques abound.
Regrettably, I didn’t get out to explore nearly as much as I should have. Besides a handful of lucky individuals, not many people have the opportunity to live in downtown Boston. No matter if you’re in rural Illinois or suburban California, there’s always something to see, so go out and explore before it’s too late.
2.) Put Yourself Out There
For a college freshman with social anxiety, orientation week was one of the single most daunting events I’ve ever faced. I joined my assigned orientation group on the Common and tried my best to look cool as I introduced myself to a circle of strangers. At the end of the meeting, I found out that there would be a lunch outing in the next couple of days for anyone interested.
A brave group of souls agreed to venture to Harvard Square for lunch. Some of us ended up at a hole-in-the-wall pizza restaurant called Pinocchio’s. I sat across from a girl named Breanna, who seemed just as uncertain of the situation as I was. I learned that she was a transfer student, vegetarian, and loved dogs.
Breanna has been my roommate for a year-and-a-half since graduation. If I hadn’t gone to Harvard Square with my classmates, I probably wouldn’t live in Boston now, and wouldn’t have made other friends through Breanna. Put yourself out there and take chances—be brave—because you never know who you’re going to meet.
3.) Friends Come and Go
To continue along the topic of friendship, I think it’s equally important to be aware that not everyone you hang out with that first or second semester of freshman year is going to be in your life by the end of your college career, or even by the end of next spring. Gradually, you’ll learn to recognize acquaintances from real friends, and as time goes on you discover that three, two, or even one close friend is better than several acquaintances.
If you’re interested in Emerson College, check out our story on college nightlife.
4.) Learn From Disagreement
As a Writing, Literature, & Publishing major, it was inevitable that I would participate in writing workshops. My focus was poetry, so as far as pretentiousness goes, I was steeped in a tiny classroom of would-be Ginsberg’s and slam poet champions.
With so much ego packed into one classroom, peer critiques could get pretty harsh. Listening to your classmates tear apart your writing is both a blessing and curse. But over time, you realize that you’re learning. You begin to accept criticism. It takes time, but once you see that you can always be better, you’ll listen to every opinion, no matter how critical or different from your own it may be.
5.) Stay In The Moment
It doesn’t take much effort to worry about the future. In my case, it was almost impossible to avoid. Emersonians are notorious for packing on the extracurricular and internship experiences. I, however, was not. You don’t have to spend very much time passing through cloud of students smoking between classes to hear about an all-nighter that resulted from a too-busy schedule.
At the time, I felt guilty over not being that stressed out, not attending several meetings a week for various campus groups, and, most of all, not having an internship each semester. The truth is, taking on that much just wasn’t for me. Instead, I chose to focus on my schoolwork. I wish I had realized it at the time, but my not-as-busy schedule allowed me to learn more about what I went to Emerson to study. Remember, you’re at college to learn, not to fret over the future.
A recent graduate of Emerson College, Claire Paschal earned her BFA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing in 2014. She makes her home just outside of Boston in Somerville, MA, and may be found frequenting many a coffeehouse there. She is passionate about poetry, publishing, canines, and veganism.