Reyna: Advice for first-year students

Christian Reyna, Staff Columnist

This year, there are 1,360 first-year students representing the Case Western Reserve University Class of 2023. Each new student brings unique experiences, skills, cultures and personalities that help make our university vibrant and welcoming. 

By the time this column is published, students will have spent the last two weeks of school adapting to their new environment, learning and making new friends. First-years, to help ease your transition and learn the do’s and don’ts of your first year, here are some tips that I’ve learned through my personal experience at CWRU.

College is a new adventure. You’re living by yourself, away from family and ready to make your own mark on the world. Being by yourself is fun, but don’t forget about your family. Call home every once in a while. Send a postcard to surprise your loved ones. It may not look like it, but your family does miss you. After all, you were a presence in their household for about 18 years. When times are tough, it doesn’t hurt to call and let them know how you feel or to just catch up on what you have missed. After calling, I guarantee you that you’ll feel refreshed and much better than before.

For those of you who come from hotter climates like me (I’m from Texas), please invest in good snow boots, a good coat and winter accessories. Cleveland winters can be not fun, as the campus becomes covered in ice and snow. Wearing normal sneakers is not going to cut it. Speaking from experience, you may easily slip and hurt yourself. As for the coat, invest in one that retains your body heat fairly well and will last all four years if possible. A water-resistant coat is also pretty nice for snowy days.

Having a nice coat can make a big difference in keeping warm, but it won’t protect your face from the cold. Instead of a scarf, I prefer to use a neck gaiter for chilly days. I find them more reliable in terms of retaining heat. A warm beanie is a must to keep your head warm, and you can advertise one of your favorite sports teams to let everyone know where you are from.

Some of you are used to your high school’s workload, but CWRU could be different. Professors do assign a lot of work at times, so it is important that you establish good time management habits. Find time in your schedule to do your homework and take breaks so you won’t overwork yourself. Don’t study for hours and hours without any breaks. Your brain needs to rest from all the numbers and terms.

As a way to rest, explore Cleveland and the community around us. It may not look like it, but we are lucky to live in such a vibrant city. University Circle has so many museums where students receive free access. When I wanted to take a break or was feeling stressed, I would go to the Cleveland Museum of Art by myself. I would lose track of time while admiring everything that the museum had to offer. All of my worries would go away, and when I returned to my dorm, I had a recharged mental battery ready to do my work.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. Most of them actively want you to succeed in their class. Ask questions during class, or if you don’t want to speak up in front of the class, go to their office hours. If they don’t have office hours, go to the teaching assistant’s office hours. There is no shame in asking for more help on homework or on a subject you don’t fully understand. Taking the initiative to get help will help you learn the material more and leave you better prepared for tests.

Go out with friends. Don’t be by yourself all the time. Release your stress, do your homework or simply just talk with your friends. You never know what you’ll learn about them. CWRU is a very friendly community where everyone has the space they need to have fun while achieving their goals.

I really hope all of you will enjoy your time at CWRU. This is a great university that provides everything possible to help you become the best you can be. I’m sure that you will learn much more than what’s included in this piece, which is the fun of college.

Christian Reyna is a second-year biomedical engineering major who is planning on obtaining a Spanish minor. When he’s not writing, he is usually thinking about his two Pomeranians back home in Texas and procrastinating on his homework.