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Dear Frosh: I wish I'd embraced awkwardness

Jenna Johnson

Today's advice for college freshmen is from Serena Lee, a UCLA junior majoring in communication studies who has a strong addiction to coffee

When I was a freshman, I wish I had known that everyone feels the same way during their first college quarter.

SerenaLee_2.jpgWe're all in the same boat with the awkward initial handshakes, the homesickness, the adjustment to a new and quite overwhelming campus.

Though it might be easier to stick with friends from high school who are also at your university, go out and make new friends (who live outside of your floor). Don't be afraid of your professors and teacher assistants -- they're here to help you, to teach you. And since TAs control your grades, be friends with them (they're students too).

My favorite freshman year memories were the spontaneous ones -- going on a volunteer orphanage trip to a sketchy part of Tijuana, Mexico, with complete strangers (who soon became my friends), staying out until 7 a.m. in the morning hanging out by the beach, joining clubs and making friends, drinking coffee at the local coffee cart, protesting budget cuts and discussing theoretical film concepts in my professor's office.

Be spontaneous and shameless! If you attend a large university like me (over 28,000 students), there are so many people you can meet. So, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you in the 300 person lecture hall -- you might have something in common and become close friends.

Wear flip flops to the shower, don't take morning classes if you're not a morning person, and never try out the unique-looking dinner special at the dorm cafeteria. Believe me, I learned the hard way.

What do you wish you had known as a freshman? E-mail me your short essay (less than 300 words) and it might be featured on the blog. Read previous essays here.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  September 17, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  College 101  | Tags: Dear Frosh, UCLA  
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Next: Dear Frosh: I wish I'd challenged myself

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