Guidance for greenhorns

An outgoing Chico State freshman shares his tips on surviving the first year

Corey Serpa stands near the entrance to Whitney Hall on the last day of his stay at the Chico State dormitory.

Corey Serpa stands near the entrance to Whitney Hall on the last day of his stay at the Chico State dormitory.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

The college experience is often one of the best, most rewarding and most fun periods of people’s lives. Best friends are made, life lessons are learned, parties are thrown, and sometimes a little studying is even tossed into the mix. Yet, some people leave university life a bit unfulfilled, perhaps disappointed by not taking advantage of everything they could have before their time was up. You don’t want to be one of those people, do you? DO YOU? All right then …

A good first step to ensure your long-lasting enjoyment of Chico is making sure you get off to a great start by getting the most out of your freshman year. The first year in a new place can be a little overwhelming at any point in your life, let alone after leaving the comfy confines of family and lifelong friends for the first time. But don’t worry: Our guru is here to make sure you walk away from it all, unscathed and ready for more.

Corey Serpa is a Sacramento native who spent his freshman year at Chico State living in the Whitney Hall dormitory. The 19-year-old is a marketing major who hopes to one day become a marketing manager. For now, however, he is here to impart his newfound knowledge to all you incoming students and Chico newcomers.

Dealing with homesickness
“To be honest, I was pretty happy to get away from home,” Serpa says. This sentiment probably echoes that of many new students, out on their own for the first time. Still, homesickness hits some people pretty hard. If home is anywhere that doesn’t require you to hop on a plane to get there, try to make it back every so often. It’ll give you a good chance to see old friends you left behind and your parents will definitely appreciate it.

As for when you’re in town, “Find friends early and you’ll be fine,” Serpa says. He also recommends trying to distance yourself a little from friends who may have made the trek to Chico with you. “You’re always going to see them, but you only get one chance to meet new people in Chico,” he says, “so be friendly.”

Meeting new friends
For those of you living on campus, or in off-campus facilities such as Craig Hall, one of the best places to meet people is in the dorms. “I just tried to be really friendly with the people in my hall,” Serpa says. “That’s how I met my best friend here.” For other great places to meet people, talk to some of your classmates, walk around campus, or take a stroll through downtown Chico. Two things to keep in mind: First, this isn’t high school; people are much friendlier in college. And second, especially in the dorms, remember that everyone is looking to make friends, just like you. So don’t be bashful.

Balancing studies and social life
Our guru got by with just one guideline during his freshman year. “Make sure you use your social time only after you’re done with your studying,” Serpa says. “Monday through Thursday are study days and Thursday night through Sunday are your times to have fun.” So when you’re fighting that urge to stay up with your buddies to catch another 4 a.m. rerun of Saved by the Bell, just keep two words in mind: academic probation.

Surviving the dorms
As a recent dorm survivor himself, I’ll let our guru give you his parting words of wisdom. “Don’t do anything too reckless in the dorms,” Serpa says. “Save that for outside. The dorms have a ton of restrictions and if you do something wrong, you will get caught. You’ve got to think of the [resident advisers] as parents.”

Car or no car?
The best way to get to know a new place is to walk. Chico is an extremely walk-friendly town, and eliminating the need for a car will not only get you acclimated quicker, but it will also cut down on your expenses. And if you really need to get around a little faster, you can always get a bike.

Chico is a walk-friendly town …

Photo By Bryce Benson

Some students don’t have financial support from their parents and therefore must find jobs around town. However, if you are one of the lucky ones, don’t be in a rush to pull down that barista job you had back home. “I suggest not getting a job your first year, if you can,” Serpa says. “It distances you from friends and will make you miss out on important experiences.”

But no matter how you get your money, you will definitely have to learn to budget. “Save your money for the weekends, when you can have the most fun.”

… or get a bike if you must get there faster.

Photo By Bryce Benson