We have had many "first days" in our lives, yet, we still get nervous and excited every time. This is mainly because every first day is different. After all, every person, situation, and school is different. We start questioning everything. Am I going to make friends? Am I going to like the school, professors, and classes? Is it going to be too hard? Are they going to like me? What should I bring? What should I wear? These kinds of questions stay in your mind, and the anxiety increases. Online classes could be even harder. You could feel isolated, and it may be harder to adapt. New formats, the lack of face-to-face conversations, and a disorganized schedule can make you lose your peace of mind. However, you should not freak out. I am going to give you some tips that you may need later on.
What every first day has in common is the change of schedule and the potential for homework. Do not leave tasks for the last moment. Usually, professors start with homework assignments on the first day of class, and if you leave something for later, you may not have enough time to catch up. That brings us to the first tip:
1. Organization is key.
Plan in advance. Get a list of supplies and books you will need and buy them before the first day. Try to get in contact with your professors or the school to know some specific supplies that you might need. Add to your list a few folders and organizers. Believe me, you will need them. Buy an agenda and try to write everything in it. Every doctor's appointment or even the plans you have on weekends. You will need more time to study than you think. Check your backpack, lunch box, and water bottle. Pay close attention to see if you need to buy new ones. If you buy them ahead of time, you can find great supplies at a really good price. Another thing you have to plan ahead is clothing.
Keep in mind what it is that you would like to wear during the first week of class. If you are using a uniform or scrubs, make sure that you have enough and that they are clean. Be sure you have enough outfits that are appropriate for school too. Many successful students make sure the night before that everything is packed and ready to go.
2. Get used to the new schedule.
Sometimes it is really hard to start waking up early when you are coming back from a long vacation. Try to go to bed early and wake up early 14 days before school starts so you can get used to the new schedule and it won’t be so hard to adapt. The night before the first day, try to eat lightly and get 8 hours of sleep. The day before, do relaxing activities and try not to think too much. You are going to need your brain and mind 100% ready the next day. For that, it is also important to eat well. Have a fulfilling and healthy breakfast that day so you can feel ready. That has something to do with the next tip.
3. Set your alarm with plenty of time
Give yourself lots of time in advance so you can be relaxed and not panicking. Take your time that morning to enjoy your breakfast. All you need has to be ready in advance, and you should have planned how to go to school already and how much time is going to take you. If you are taking online classes, make sure your computer and applications work properly. If you do not have a schedule to follow, make it. Try to wake up early and do your assignments in the morning. It is always hard but it gives you more productive hours throughout the day. Leave some time for the unforeseen and arrive early for the next tip.
4. Arrive early to school or classes to build connections.
Do not be shy. Say hi and ask questions. You can have some questions planned to ask new people so you look more natural and sociable. Do not forget that everyone is in the same situation, and they will appreciate you trying to connect. Introduce yourself and try to find things in common. Ask about classes and extracurricular activities. Always have a positive and respectful attitude. The more outgoing and natural you look, the more people you will know. Be yourself and find friends that send the same vibes. Introduce yourself to professors and create good impressions. This applies to face-to-face and online classes. Sometimes it is weird to socialize through a screen, but make as many connections as you can. You are going to see the same faces for a long time and having friends or group studies in your class is going to improve your grades and your mental health. Do not forget to ask for numbers if you connect. Do not feel weird asking for it. At home, you will have more questions about your first day and the days to come. If you have someone in the same class to talk about it you are going to feel better.
5. Decorate your desk and area of study with your personal touch.
This gives people a reason to talk to you and gives you a thing to feel more close to home.
First days are always stressful and overwhelming. Do not forget that you are not the only one in that situation. Take this opportunity to learn about you. What makes you worried, what stresses you the most, and what can you learn for future "first days." Make new friends and new experiences. Stop thinking about the details, see the whole picture, and have fun!
Andreina Di Geronimo from Venezuela is studying pre-courses for the health science program at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. Her favorite things to do in Tampa are running the Riverwalk or along Bayshore and going to the beach.