Five things to avoid doing your first week of school

By Sinead McDevitt, Contributing Editor

The beginning of your first-year means something different for everyone. For some it’s the freedom of being out on their own, for others it’s their first time without their parents or any real adult supervision. You have to do your own laundry and pay for groceries, and it can be overwhelming. To help, here are five things to avoid doing your first week on campus.

1. Spending all your money all at once

If college is your first time living on your own with a disposable income, it can be tempting to buy things as soon as you want them just because you can. I know I went on a shopping spree after my first paycheck came in. But it’s important to be careful and put aside some money in case something happens. Sudden charges pop up all over the place in the adult world, so try to remember to put a little to the side for a rainy day before treating yourself with the rest.

2. Pulling an all-nighter

I know the image of pulling a

n all-nighter to get a project done is considered a classic college experience, but I definitely don’t recommend depending on them on a regular basis. Trust me, it sucks, and you don’t want to fall prey to an all-nighter too many times. The quality of your work will suffer and, more importantly, so will your health. 

First off, a lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of several medical conditions, and hurts your immune system. Furthermore, since your brain consolidates and stores memories when you’re sleeping, you’re more likely to remember what’s on your next exam if you get a good night’s sleep beforehand. 

Like I said, it’s more likely than not you’ll be stuck pulling an all-nighter at least once while you’re in college — it’s okay, things happen. But those first few weeks of classes are when you get into a pattern for the rest of the year, so don’t make a habit of staying up late to get work done. It isn’t worth it.

3. Eating like crap 

I know, I know, I sound like your parents, but like with sleep, developing good eating habits can prevent you from getting sick later on in the semester. You don’t have to commit yourself to eating a rainbow or following the food pyramid, just try to make sure you keep fruits and vegetables as staples of your diet. If you’re in the dining hall, grab a banana or apple along with your breakfast, or a salad or green vegetable with your lunch, or buy fruits to snack on while you’re in your dorm.

Also, while Oakland has a lot of great restaurants that you will definitely want to try, don’t eat out every meal. Not only can it be expensive, but also you’ll start to crave homemade food pretty quickly. 

One benefit of being on your own is that you can decide what you want to eat and when. You never have to eat spinach again if you don’t want to! But it is a good habit to eat some fruits and veggies every day.

4. Staying in your room

My first semester, I was really nervous about going out and experiencing the city, and then my second, just when I’d started to get a feel for the buses and going to the Waterfront, lockdown hit and I was confined to my room back home for a year and a half. I made it a point my junior year to really get out and about and boy, do I wish I had done it sooner.

I love the Pittsburgh Cultural District, or going to the Waterfront to look at shops. Pittsburgh is filled with museums — the Andy Warhol museum is a personal favorite — and exhibits to check out, and your student ID will get you into a lot of them for free or at a reduced price. It can be a great day trip with friends.

Even if you don’t really have an idea of what you want to do, a change of scenery can really help, especially if you’re feeling stuck and frustrated on an assignment. Go on a walk through campus for thirty minutes and I promise you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your problems.

5. Being afraid to ask for help

This goes for pretty much any information. Don’t remember how to get to the second floor of Cathy? Just ask. Confused about a reading or need more time on an assignment? Email your professor. They might not answer instantly but they’ll get back to you. Ask your RA if you need help with the laundry machine or using other facilities. If you need help with homework, ask your friends or classmates. Make use of the Career Center and Pitt’s mental health services.

There is no shame in not knowing something or needing to ask for help. Everyone on campus has been in that exact position before. Even if it seems like something everyone else knows, there might be someone else with the same question who’s also too scared to ask. At the end of the day, the momentary embarrassment you get from having to ask about something you feel like you should already know isn’t going to be as bad as ruining your clothes because you didn’t know how to wash out a stain or failing a class because you didn’t grasp the basic concepts. Don’t stretch yourself too thin because you were afraid to ask for help.