Getting it right

The top 10 Chico student newbie mistakes

Illustration By Erin Bell

1 Driving the wrong way on one-way streets.
It’s almost as embarrassing as it is dangerous. Be forewarned: Chico is a hotbed of one-way streets, particularly downtown. Memorize Main (which runs north) and Broadway (which runs south), along with the east-west melee that are the numbered streets.

Illustration By Erin Bell

2 Freaking out and renting the first place you see.
We’ve all done it, young and old. Moving to a new town and needing to settle in amid time pressures, it could be tempting to assume that all rentals are the same. Not so, and neither are all landlords. Do your research and choose wisely. And don’t worry: Enrollment is down, and that means property owners are competing for your dollar. You don’t need to trip over yourself to hand it to them. Also, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to pay rent over the summer to “hold” a place.

3 Drinking too much.
No, this is not a lecture. Just the voice of experience. Besides headaches, memory loss and random barfing, overindulging in alcohol is a good way to get yourself beat up (guys) or assaulted (girls). If you’re going to imbibe, pace yourself, buddy. Also (girls only), if you believe the adage that a woman should never have to pay for drinks, you’ll soon learn that most deals in life come with strings attached.

Illustration By Erin Bell

4 Taking school too seriously or not seriously enough.
Sure, college is where you get all that book learnin’ under your belt. But you’ve got to have some fun, too, or you’ll burn out. Even if Mom, Dad and Uncle Sam aren’t footing the bill and you have to work three jobs, try to find some time to relax, or you’ll find yourself a crisis case study in the counseling center. But don’t slack off completely, or you’ll end up on academic probation and missing out on the main opportunity you’re here for.

5 Latching onto some guy (or girl) you just met.
The next thing you know, you’re about to graduate and feeling stifled. Then you’re pushing 30 and don’t want to break up because you’ve “invested” so much time in this relationship. And you want to party like you didn’t in college. But you can’t because you have two kids and own a car together. It’s a downward spiral you can avoid by playing the field a bit first.

Illustration By Erin Bell

6 Blowing off Upper Park.
We cringe when we hear of people who’ve lived in Chico for three, four or five years and have yet to experience the wonders of Bidwell Park. What the hell? Would you live in Rome and ignore the Coliseum? Would you go to Yosemite Park and close your eyes driving past Half-Dome? No? Well, then, get off your study seat and trek (yes, you can even drive) to the swimming holes and hiking and biking trails for some scenic time out.

7 Buying new textbooks.
Unless you have tyrannical teachers who leave you no choice, forgo the $200 new book for the cheaper (though still costly) used version. Editions rarely change much, and that new-book sheen will wear off faster than you can say “waste of money.”

8 Not registering to vote.
Here’s a dirty little secret: Thousands of people in Chico are hoping that students will come to town, spend a bunch of money for four years, keep their mouths shut and then leave. If you want to wait until you get to know the local issues, that’s cool. But once you figure it out, mail that darn registration card and get yourself a voice.

9 Assuming you don’t have allergies.
Welcome to Chico. Now, start sneezing. Many a person has lived decades blissfully unaware of what a luxury it is to breathe freely. Then, they experience their first (or second) spring in Chico, and it’s a nightmare of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and fatigue. If nature’s roll of the dice leaves you suffering, hope your insurance is up-to-date because it could be shots-ville for you.

Mixing darks and lights.
We’re talking laundry. Your washing machine is not the place for diversity. A primer: Whites go in hot and include underwear. Darks go in cold. Bleach leaves stains; don’t leave dried clothes unattended in a laundromat, and fold sooner rather than later.