I'm certainly not going to underplay the fact that college is one of the most crucial periods of your life. It can be stressful at times but if you do college the right way, you can grow as a person, acquire life-changing skills, make lifelong friends, network for your career and most of all, make mistakes.
It's going to be a new experience, but a worthwhile one. I transferred from Texas A&M University to the University of Houston this year and I was in for a shock.
Here are a few things I learned by transferring to this commuter school:
1. Students who commute dress completely different.
Please don't wear your welcome week shirts from orientation, or lanyards with ID cards around campus. Since students come from home everyday, they have a lot more freedom to pick out their outfits.
No need to worry about packing light while moving in. Whether you want to slack off and wear sweats, or dig into the depths of your closet to find something cute, it's your choice.
2. If you commute, beat the Houston traffic.
Houston is known for its treacherous traffic from 7 to 9 am and 4 to 7 pm. Be on the road before 8 am and after 6:30 pm. Expect to stay on campus longer than your classes are, just because you have to wait until rush hour ends. You can get work done, mingle with friends, eat or go to club meetings.
3. Dress for the heat and humidity.
Houston weather is not easy to deal with, especially if you're not even from the area. Pack light clothing because you'll hardly ever wear jeans in the sticky weather. Loose shirts, dresses and sandals are probably your most ideal options. Make sure to carry sunscreen and deodorant with you at all times.
4. Finals Mania is a thing.
To help relieve students during finals week, twice a year UH celebrates Finals Mania. Staff serves free pancakes, turkey sausage, coffee, juice and snacks for breakfast. This is definitely the only pro of finals week.
5. On Fridays we wear red.
Don't be a freshman who's out of the loop. Show off your Coog pride by uniting with the staff and student body on Cougar Red Fridays. In case this isn't appealing enough, does extra credit from professors for wearing red on Fridays sound attractive?
6. Bring a strong bike lock.
The university is located in the third ward, and the crime rate here is at an all-time high. Don't leave your bikes lying around, or any valuables for that matter. Someone WILL steal them. My friend left his locked bike unattended for weeks, only to come back to a bike frame without a seat or wheels.
7. Visit the Houston Zoo and campus art museum for free.
When UH give you perks, use them. Visit your mascot Shasta the Cougar for free at the zoo when you bring your ID. Unfortunately, your ID doesn't get you out of the parking struggles there. The campus art museum is always free for students as well.
8. The library is the commuter's second home.
Whether you need a study area, a place to sleep, eat or just socialize, the library is your place to be. Different wings and floors are suited for different needs.
9. The hype is real at football games.
Despite UH not having as great a football team as Texas A&M, it's still worth going. Football games here are the epitome of Coog pride. What better way to pledge your support to the university other than to cheer at football games?
Games are free to attend and even if you don't have the slightest knowledge of this sport, you'll be hyped just sitting there. Go at least once in your college career, and you'll understand what it truly means to be a Cougar.
10. The struggle for parking is real.
The parking situation at the University of Houston is like going to the airport: Be there two hours early. You won't find a single spot after 10 am, so be prepared to wait around for an hour and a half until someone leaves.