So here you are, all ready for your first days of school. If you’re not a Miami native, you probably got on the big scary plane, said bye-bye to mommy and daddy and chose to now reside in or around campus. If you still live with your parents, you’ve prepared yourself to face traffic daily in order to show up to class. Either way, kid, get ready for a ride. Your first week here is going to be interesting.
A quick explanation of why you should heed my advice: I’m a junior. I’ve been there. I have suffered your current pains, and I’ve survived. I’m also a commuter, so what I tell you about commuting comes from years of trial and error (and error and error and error). All my information (and complaints and advice) about dorms, however, comes from people I know who reside in them- so take my words with a grain of salt, as they may not be 100% accurate.
First off: walking on campus will bless you with surprises. The greatest shock for everyone is the discovery that there are other types of people on campus than the ones expected. This sounds painfully obvious, but people don’t usually realize the extent of it until it’s face-to-face.
For you out-of-towners, this will hit you across the face like a sledgehammer- expect to hear five different languages in one day. This is in no way bizarre. For the locals, you are to encounter a shock just as great: there are people who speak only English, and who have never been to a Latin American country. This is also in no way bizarre. Everyone will have an accent you find unusual, regardless of where you’re coming from. Your only choice, really, is to get used to it, and to try to enjoy it.
Now, for you kiddies who are now going to be spending lots of time in your cars driving up and down, your greatest concern is parking. And unfortunately for us, UM has a BIG parking issue. The administration has been working on it, and there have been great improvements, but there is still distance to go. The only practical solution is to either show up on campus before nine a.m., or to come at least half an hour before class in order to procure a space- yes, it will take you that long- sometimes even longer. My recommendation is to park in a lot far away (and hence, less crowded) and take a shuttle.
The Hurry-cane shuttles, by the way, are great, wonderful things. They have stops all over, including Sunset Place on Fridays and Saturdays and the Grove on Thursdays. Use them frequently. Be their friend.
More helpful hints: use sandals in the showers and try to make nice with your roommate. That should help along until you figure the rest out yourself.
Now, a few other things: make use of your free time. More likely than not, you are going to have lots of time between classes. Wasting this time is a very, very bad idea. This is doubly true of commuters. Take that hour and read a chapter instead of watching TV. Do work. Plan your papers. Something. Anything productive.
Make use of the facilities, you’re paying for them. Go to the Wellness Center. Use the library. The UC, in particular, should be made use of as much as possible- there are everything from pool tables to chess sets to a great new arcade and Internet cafe to be enjoyed.
And last but definitely not least: relax. Sooner or later, you’ll find a groove that feels good and works for you. Until then, kiddies, just hang in there and try not to kill yourselves.
Rebeca Oliveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.