A senior’s guide to starting the new semester

Whether you’ve never been in the Big Apple or you’ve perfected your campus routine, here’s how to shake off those first week frazzles.

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Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Calling all first-years! Here are some things to know to survive your first week at NYU. (Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Mayee Yeh, Deputy Managing Editor

With yesterday being my last first day of college, I think I’ve collected enough knowledge to hone in on my pre-semester preparations. I remember being an all-too-excited first-year student who was too afraid to get on the subway and definitely did not know my way around NYU’s supposed non-campus campus. From zooming — or Zooming — to and from new classes to trying to live your best life, here’s some tips to include into your daily schedule. 

Organize your schedule with a calendar

If you’re pulling up to your classes with a screenshot of your enrolled classes on Albert, there’s something wrong. Before muscle memory and routine can really do their work, you don’t want to have to decode day in and day out what building and street you’ll be heading to at eight in the morning. There’s honestly too much to remember, especially if New York City is brand new to you. I, personally, live by my Google Calendar — those notifications remind my borderline-goldfish memory of all my meetings, classes and even when to eat. It doesn’t even have to be Google — any calendar will work. Just having one place that tells you the address and your class’ room number guarantees that you won’t accidentally stumble into Spanish II or Linear Algebra.  

An illustration of an Excel spreadsheet with red, orange, and green rows highlighted.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Put your assignments into a spreadsheet

Spreadsheet, Google Sheet, Notion — same difference. If it can change the colors of its cells and sort by date, the interface is perfect. The moment you get your syllabus, which honestly may not be until hours before your class actually meets in person, you should skim the class’ due dates. Better yet, sort the information out by time, subject and urgency. I won’t be the first to admit that this isn’t guaranteed to solve all students’ greatest plight: procrastination. However, if your brain ever decides to quit the “I can do this the night before” mindset, that spreadsheet will be a fantastic resource. 

An illustration clock in the 5 o’clock position with a red letter X on the left, and a clock in the 3 o’clock position with a green checkmark on the right.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Arrive to your buildings earlier than you expect

Sure, maybe your class says it starts at 12:30 p.m. However, the time it takes to wait for an elevator to the 10th floor of Kimmel or any floor of Silver — by the way if you refuse to walk to the second floor out of laziness, I hope the Silver doors crash into you — can be way longer than you expect. If you’re the type to trust the 10-minute travel time Google Maps tells you and rush into your classroom seconds before it officially starts, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not really the move. A minute or two is definitely not the end of the world; a point off your grade can be. And make sure to read your syllabi carefully — some professors are sticklers for attendance and attribute way too much of your grade to it. 

An illustration of a pair of white shoes.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Wear practical shoes

I get it. Maybe you’ve stalked @watchingnewyork for outfit inspiration or are just trying to embrace your inner New Yorker a la “Sex and the City.” Will those heels make you look hot? Yes, of course. Are those furry boots and legwarmers camp? Definitely. However, those heels will kill your feet after three blocks and you really don’t want your boots picking up whatever grime coats New York City sidewalks. There’s definitely a safe balance between fashion and practicality. I’ve worn the same shoes since the winter of 2019 and they have yet to fail me. But, if you’re really invested in maintaining fashion, a chunky sneaker is the perfect balance between that returning ‘90s style and foot comfort. Just please don’t ever wear flip flops. 

An illustration of boba tea on the left and coffee with foam art on the right.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Separate work and relaxation

To be fair, it is a bit early to warn you about the semester ramping up and the need to set personal limits, but I am a big fan of instilling good habits early. Maybe you’re the kind of person to throw yourself into work and not make a clear difference between work and life to the point where everything is an indecipherable gray. I’m probably just projecting. Whatever it may be, take this as a warning of what not to do. I try my best to schedule fun activities on the weekend like pop-ups around the city, visiting new restaurants or cafes, or even just streaming something new. If you can, incorporating a firm deadline when you stop working and starting a self-care routine will naturally offset that day-to-day stress. You deserve a break.

Contact Mayee Yeh at [email protected]