1. Check your bike. Despite Davis’ status as a bike-friendly city, bike accidents and theft are extremely common. Mason Sinclair of the Bike Barn advised students to watch the Bike Barn’s new safety video on YouTube. He also has some bike advice for new students. “Check your bike every once in a while for problems like tire pressure,” Sinclair said. “Also, lock it up – that’s the most important thing.”
2. Set up roommate boundaries. Even if the only thing you have said to your roommate so far is “I’d like the top bunk, thanks,” now is the time to discuss the ground rules of your new home. When you want your room quiet, if you are okay with sharing food and how often you are going to clean the room are good places to start.
3. Be prepared for the quarter system. The lightning-quick pace of the 10-week quarter system means that you will most likely need to start studying for midterms just a couple of weeks after each quarter starts. “We encourage students to sit down and develop a time-management schedule at the beginning of the quarter to manage their studies and extracurriculars,” said Barry Pullum, assistant director of undergraduate advising for the College of Letters and Science. In other words, get a planner and use it – that sinking feeling of realizing you forgot about a paper due the next day is not fun.
4. Don’t go home every weekend. As tempting as it may be to go home to home-cooked meals and your comfy bed every weekend, don’t do it. There is always something happening on weekends, from Aggie football games to the downtown farmers market. Besides, no one wants to be known as “that guy who’s never here.” Not only will you miss out on fun activities by going home, but also miss bonding time with your dorm mates.
5. Find your study niche. Take some time to figure out how and where you like to study most. Shields Library is a popular study hangout, but it is not the only one. You may find that you get more work done in your dorm’s study room or one of the many quiet lounges in the Memorial Union. Experiment with note-taking, flashcards and locations until you find a combination that works for you.
6. Two words: Picnic Day. Three words: Whole Earth Festival. Now you know the names of the two most anticipated events of the year that almost everyone in the nearby vicinity (and often further) marks on their calendars. Each has its own unique appeal and should not be missed.
7. Experiment with different classes. Choosing just four classes among the thousands offered each quarter can be daunting, but Pullum said first-year students should feel free to experiment with new subjects until they reach 90 units, when they should declare a major. “Take lower-division courses that introduce you to an area – the 10s [for example, Music 10] are great for that,” Pullum said. “Also, I know the course catalogue is not the kind of book you want to cuddle up to on a rainy day, but students who read the registration guide and catalogue are so much better informed.”
8. Get involved on campus. Out of the hundreds of clubs, intramural sports and religious groups on campus, there is bound to be at least one that interests you, so do not be afraid to join in. Finding an extracurricular activity you love will help you make new friends and feel connected to the campus.
9. Plan early for next year’s housing. Even though you have just barely figured out where the best food is at the DC and how to carry all of your stuff back and forth from the shower, it is never too early to start thinking about housing for next year. Unless you plan on being a Resident Advisor next year, you should start looking for an apartment or house in January, when models open for tours and new lease signings. “Know the people you’re living with and make sure you know what you’re paying for,” said Carlos Hernandez, manager of La Salle Apartments. “Budget for internet, power and gas, and think about having more roommates to save money.”
10. DavisWiki is Davis’s best resource. To find out information about restaurants or some unique Davis residents, DavisWiki should be your destination. Chock full of anything Davis related, it is the easiest way to get information quickly. You can find reviews for every single restaurant, movie theater and business in town, as well as information about Davis history, parks and more.
ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.