Tag Archives: advice

The Dos and Don’ts to Ensure a Successful (and Non-Traumatic) Freshman Year

David L. Garcia and Shelby Black

Staff Writers


Lose your ID I cannot emphasize this enough. This ID is your first and most important companion here at USF. It holds your food money (a.k.a “flexi”), bus pass, and access to campus buildings and your dorm room. It. Is. Everything. If you do happen to lose it, you can purchase a new one on Lone Mountain (a.k.a Lomo), but that beautiful bus pass that gets you around the city is gone for good until next semester. Be sure to purchase an ID holder at the bookstore.

Leave your laundry in the machines It’s a hassle already having to do your laundry, but it’s an even bigger problem when there are no available washers or dryers due to finished loads that haven’t been taken out. Do you and your peers a favor, and don’t leave your laundry in the machines. Set a timer to let you know when you’re laundry is done to avoid angry residents and stolen clothes!

Be afraid to speak up Seriously, everyone is just as scared as you. Everyone is just as confused as you. Everyone assumes they aren’t going to make friends. You are going to make friends; you just need to say “hello.”

Call it San Fran Or Frisco In a few months, when you finally go home for Thanksgiving, some silly relative will call your new home by one of those nicknames. Just ignore them. This is your city now; know what to call it. Most of us call it SF. Simple, easy, and hard to misunderstand. The City is also common. The City by the Bay is good, but only if you need to be poetic for some reason.

Skip the welcome week activities Yes, it’s cheesy, and awkward, and no, you probably won’t make any long lasting friendships playing a silly icebreaker. Doesn’t matter. The silly games give you confidence, which is the key to having a successful freshman year.

Worry about keeping in touch with friends from high school You won’t lose everybody. It’s OK. Everyone’s busy with his or her own life. If you find yourself sitting in your dorm, wondering why an old friend hasn’t responded to your text, don’t sweat it. They’re probably out making some friends, which is what you could be doing!

Ignore your Dons email Any official school news is sent through email, and it’s the main form of communication between you and your professors. Be sure to check it daily, first thing in the morning. There’s nothing better than getting an email at 7:30 a.m.  saying that your eight o’clock class has been canceled. Good thing you checked your email.


Get a lay of the land As a freshman a lot of new things are being thrown in your face at once, so it would be a good idea to get accustomed to your surroundings. For example, consider trying to find your classrooms and check out the buildings before school starts; no one wants to be that kid who walks in twenty minutes late to class, especially on the first day.

Download a transit app If you’re new to San Francisco, figuring out the bus system will definitely be tricky at first. Luckily there are a handful of convenient (and free!) apps available to download that will help you get around the city. Three popular apps are Routsey, Transit and Muni Watch.

Do something with your roommate, especially if you’ve never met before Watch TV, study, eat dinner in the Café, hell, go to Lucky’s together because you both forgot to bring nail clippers. Whatever. Spend some time getting to know the stranger you’ve got to live with for the next nine months.

Call your parents, at least once a week, if not more They worry, and honestly, you miss them. C’mon. Admit it. Just a little. You do.

Join an on campus organization There’s dozens to choose from. Join anything that strikes your fancy. Most clubs LOVE having freshmen join (someone needs to be groomed for leading the group in a few years). It’s a great way to meet upperclassmen. And if you end up hating the club, just drop it. You’re not married to your decision.

Use your MUNI pass It wasn’t free; don’t waste any of that valuable, valuable tuition. Learn the bus routes, pick a place in the city you’ve never been, and go, even if just to say you’ve been there. The city’s a great place; MUNI will help you explore it. And be sure not to lose your ID, unless you want to have to sneak onto buses and run the risk of a giant fine.

Make the most of your freshman year Yes, cliche I know; but, freshman year is going to be the best year of your life, and the only time you can get away with mostly anything. It’s going to go by fast y’all, so make a ton of friends and some amazing (albeit slightly ridiculous) memories and capture everything on camera. 

Use all of your Flexi At the end of the year, your meal plan money will disappear, forever. Unless you want to buy a lifetime’s supply of Fritos and toilet paper, eat up! Or, your Flexi can be your ticket to making friends with upper classmen by treating them to meals.

Dear Tracy,
One of my professors only likes to hear his own voice in class- he never stops talking! What can I do to keep my sanity during his never-ending diatribes?
I Have Thoughts

Ask Tracy

Dear Thoughts,

Your professor talks the whole class long? What planet are you from- this is college, that’s kind of the point. Professors teach… it’s what they do. I’m all about a good discussion class, after all everyone “has thoughts” and some are even worth sharing, but it sounds to me like you’ve found yourself in a good old fashioned lecture class and if that’s the case, then my best advice is to just buckle down and listen. It might be exhausting and you might get tired of your professors voice after an hour (or 5 minutes, but who’s counting), but your professor is teaching the class for a reason. Even if your professor goes off-topic, there’s always something interesting to learn from them (I’ve gotten some excellent restaurant recommendations this way).

Maybe this is more of a “you have questions and aren’t getting any answers”  kind of a situation? If that’s the case, I highly suggest office hours or email. Every professor at USF holds office hours at least once a week, and in this case, that’s a whole hour where you know exactly how to reach your professor with your questions. Emailing your prof is always good too-sometimes it’s easier to address specific questions when they’re in email form, and let’s hope your professor’s fingers get tired so he doesn’t send you a long-winded response.

My last-ditch advice is to join the dual degree teaching program and become a professor yourself… then you’ll have your own class of students who are obligated to listen to you!

Do you have a question? I’m pretty sure I know everything  and that makes me qualified to answer it! Email your questions to [email protected]
-Tracy Sidler

Style File: Classing Up Your Fashion

Welcome back to fall when styles are as fresh and crisp as the air and our wardrobes are forcefully cut in half by college closets. No matter our grades or ages, attention must be paid to what we “don” for the 2010/ 2011 school year as we mature both in front of the mirror and away from it.

Before we get too deep into the spirit of our “collegiate couture,” let me introduce myself to “Style File” reader rookies. I am an USF senior back stateside reporting to you fresh from the style trenches of Paris after a semester abroad. I am excited to continue delivering style advice, trend reports, and fashion news through “Style File.” After image courses in Paris and New York, internships, retail experience and a personal passion for fashion, I offer you my take on the runway, the real way. I am a proud advocate of staying true to personal style. My job then is to point you in the direction of your most confident and chic self.

As we climb the ladder to a graduation date, we usually have four years, or four steps, to develop our style. Now that I approach my fourth and final step at USF, I reflect on the stages of my style maturity after three years and goals for my senior year. As I peer into the looking glass of my style past and future, each year has provided a different fashion perspective. IMG_0628 003

Suitcases in hand and my most treasured fashion pieces tucked neatly away, I forced myself to acclimate to a roommate and a limited living space. My high school days of daily car transportation, bathroom privacy and my lifetime’s collection of clothing at my fingertips were over. However, we have all chosen a school in a city of style, freedom and expression. I didn’t leave my wardrobe ensemble ideas at home because they were fresh in this city. Freshman year is full of change and adjustment so I found it wise to pull from what I knew and was comfortable in. Naturally I pulled other style ideas from my peers, and discovered Haight Street. My transformation was fun and easy, with a slight vintage overdose from Haight’s Wasteland and Held Over. If you are just starting out on this journey, stay true to your style roots as you set out on this adventure called college. When looking in the mirror, remember you know that face and style you are observing, and welcome your personal style standbys. This city is full of inspiration, so let it come to you spontaneously.

My fashion collection in San Francisco had doubled as I brought more and more clothes from home and explored every shopping facet the city had to offer. I was moving into a single room at Lone Mountain which became more of a closet with a bed in the corner. I settled into my identity at USF and felt comfortable changing my style everyday. I undoubtedly had “multiple style personality disorder” as I was not editing my shopping choices to fit my true personality and identity. Sophomore year was a year of exploration and pushing my boundaries as far as I could. I remember buying a vintage fur shrug made of four coyotes, tails included. What was I thinking? I don’t regret a moment of my chaotic style and encourage you to use this year to make mistakes to find what you look your best and feel the most comfortable in. At times you might catch a glimpse in the mirror of a “worst dressed” day, but trudge ahead.

I worked for a fabulous stylist in the city, moved into my first apartment (without a closet) and gained fifteen pounds. It was time to learn control. At the beginning of the year, I was dressing to hide the body that I was not comfortable with and started buying clothes just to make me feel better. This was a mistake. As I started to prepare for Paris, I took control of my body and style. I lost the weight and edited my closet to reflect the lady that I wanted to be. Only having two suitcases to bring to Paris taught me to use little and make a lot of of it. I felt simplified and less cluttered. Don’t worry, I am not telling you to prepare for weight gain and a move across the Atlantic. However, now is the moment to critically gaze at your reflection to find confidence in your style and shed the unwanted excess in your closet.

I am now back in San Fran feeling refreshed by a new perspective on fashion that I acquired in Paris and, if I dare say, wiser. I just moved back into my apartment with ten pairs of shoes instead of 45 and many extra hangers. My focus this year is refinement as I prepare for life after college.
I unpacked my clothes box yesterday and reminisced with a few “friends” hanging on my clothes racks. My leopard print L.A.M.B. sweater was with me freshman year on my first date with my boyfriend and again accompanied me on a long walk we took last night. The sneaker boots I bought on Haight during my initial visit to USF are worn and dirty, but hold the top shelf still this year on my shoe rack. I feel I have come full circle from freshman year. I am looking ahead to my stylistic future but tightly hold on to the pieces that have worn through the last three years. Looking in the mirror and feeling confident is the wisest and most mature style stage on the step ladder. Sometimes taking a moment to reflect in the mirror can be challenging and a bit scary but as soon as you start climbing, your maturity will serve as your reflection. Have a column suggestion or need some personal styling advice? Email me at [email protected] to get in touch with me and your style. Happy styling and reflecting, whether in front of the mirror or not.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain
Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian

A Few College Pointers From Someone Who is Way Smarter, Funnier and Cooler Than You Are

I’ve learned a lot in the past four years. I started off at Northeastern University in Boston and hated New England. It felt like an extension of my upper middle class suburban high school and I was the weird girl, yet again. When I transferred to USF it was nice to be back West (I’m from Seattle) and around like-minded people that seemed to appreciate my eccentric-ness. My college experience has taught me a lot about the world around me, but also about myself. The most important thing I learned is that your life and your experiences are what you make of them. This is my advice:

1) Make friends that are different than you. There’s no reason to pigeonhole yourself in your social life. I’ve formed incredible friendships with people it seems I have nothing in common with. It forces you to get outside your comfort zone in a really important way. Since starting college I’ve befriended sorority sisters, Evangelical Christians, even a pageant girl. Through these relationships I learned we had a lot more in common than I anticipated and we had A LOT of fun together. You may see a new side of yourself come out. Give yourself the freedom to be friends with all kinds of people. You won’t learn anything hanging out with people that are exactly like you.

2) Live outside of San Francisco and your hometown. I never studied abroad, but last summer I did two internships in New York City. Moving to a new place forces you to be resourceful and adaptable. Try finding a normal grocery store in New York (my tip, take the subway to Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn). Finding friends without the aid of school or orientation requires that you take risks and experiment in your social life. Living in New York, my socialite wannabe roommates dragged me to a hip club in Chelsea where I was the only girl with visible tattoos, glasses and a Padawan braid. I felt completely out of my element, but that’s important sometimes. Plus, everyone in the club got to see and envy my smooth dance moves.

3) Get a tattoo (if you want one). I’ve talked to so many people about how badly they want tattoos, but they’re too scared to get one. They spend years thinking about it and never take the plunge. Do it! I know the arguments – my parents will kill me, what if I regret it, what about when I get old? Well according to a study at the Pew Research Institute, the Millennials (that’s us) are the tattoo generation. Their study says that 38% (almost four out of ten) of us have a tattoo. Out of those of us that are already tattooed, 31% have one tattoo, 50% have two to five tattoos and 18% have six or more. When mom and dad ask how you’ll look with tattoos when you’re old and saggy, let them know that your peers will look exactly the same.

4) Join a club or organization. I know it sounds cheesy, but I felt fairly isolated on this campus as a transfer student before I started working for the Foghorn. It’s nice to have a place on campus, an activity and a group of people you feel connected to. When I walk around campus with other friends that transferred, they’re astonished by the amount of people I know. All of that is due to this paper. Beyond the social benefits, working for the Foghorn has allowed me to create something that I think is important. It gives me a platform to write about my interests and share cool things that I like with my peers. And I mean, without the Foghorn how could I write a 1,000-word article about myself? On campus groups need all the help they can get.

5) Become a regular. Find your favorite places around the city, coffee shops, video stores, restaurants, and visit them often. The relationships you make with the people you interact with daily can transform your experience living in a city. I make a point of going back to the same places and having real conversations with the people that work there. I’ve spent hours goofing around with Jeremy and Ben at Lost Weekend Video in the Mission and my barista Brett at Four Barrel directed me to his website to watch a video he made of himself dancing to “Born in the USA” in bright orange underpants. Find an independent record store, coffee shop or bookstore and make connections with the people that work there. They might just be the coolest people you meet here.

6) Experience the city. There’s SO MUCH going on here. Explore all of what San Francisco has to offer. There are great restaurants, bars, stores and coffee shops. People travel from all over the world to visit this place (I know because I live two blocks from Alamo Square Park and I see the tour busses every day). Play tourist for a day – go visit the different neighborhoods. Get a dim sum in China Town, a slice of pizza in North Beach, some fish and chips at Fisherman’s Warf and burrito from a Mission taqueria. Hit up City Lights Books, SF MOMA, Paxton’s Gate and the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. Go see live music! This city has a history of spectacular live music (Bill Graham, anyone?). There are venues all over with bands playing every night of the week. Get out of the Haight Street, Clement, USF area and discover all the great places to hang out.Get some help from SFist or Yelp! first.

7) Utilize the fresh start. This isn’t high school anymore! Take advantage of this new beginning to be whatever and whoever you want to be. If you want to change your personal style, go for it. If you want to explore new types of music, this is the perfect opportunity. Play around and experiment. Don’t feel tied down to any particular “identity.” I think in a larger sense this ties back to not pigeonholing or sterotyping yourself. You can like indie rock, hip hop, yoga, bike riding, coffee, Anthropologie, live music, classic rock, reading, sports, the Gap, vintage, cooking, break dancing, reggae, jogging and contemporary feminist theory all at once! People are complex with lots of completely unconnected interests. That’s cool! That’s what makes us fun and exciting! You don’t have to be the indie rock, coffee shop, record store girl that only wears vintage. You don’t have to be the sporty dude that only talks about girls and beer. Be whoever you want to be. Be yourself.

Seniors Gear Up For Graduation, Turn to Career Services Center For Advice in Weak Job Market

As the spring heads in with the celebration of Passover and Easter, many students at USF come to terms with graduating in less than two months. Graduating from college allows for students to finish their educational paths, and step out into the world as knowledgeable, independent, and career-minded individuals. Yet, for many students it can be a scary time in their lives. Forced to figure out what to do with their lives, whether it be what is the right job is, how to find that job, and maybe if graduate school should be an option–all are difficult decisions and questions for students facing graduation just around the corner.

Career Services is a vital part of USF and takes great strides in helping assist students in their needs. USF Career Services provides counseling, advising, and opportunities for students to find jobs and internships during and after college. They greatly encourage students to bring in their resumes to have it reviewed by the counselors. This helps students prepare for interview for prospective employment after leaving USF.

For seniors that are graduating and have never been to the career center, it’s a good time to check in. Career Services has done several things in order to provide more opportunity and time with students on campus. They have extended, modified, and increased their drop-in hours. Career services has increased drop-in time from 14 hours to  21 hours per week. Now drop in hours are scheduled 11:00am -2:00pm Monday, Thursday, and Friday; and 4:00pm – 7:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. This adjustment in the rescheduling of drop-in hours has been really popular with students. The drop in hours now fall more in line with the dead hour on campus and during time where students have breaks, enabling them to easily make time to visit Career Services.

In fact, the number of students coming into Career Services has increased by 25% from the previous year. The change in students coming in is not simply due to the hour changes, but also to the changes within the current economy. From the previous years of the recession, students today are at a slight advantage and are more aware of the difficulty that may come when looking for work and establishing careers. Alexander Hochman, Assistant Director/Career Counselor at USF Career Center said that the economy is in recovery and it’s up to student to get the jobs today. Hochman said, “My biggest words of wisdom, is to tell students to be persistent. People cannot simply turn on their computers and spend an hour looking for work, and think that they have done an adequate job search anymore.”

Graduates are having their resumes checked, and making sure to take advantage of the Career Service Resource on campus in order to have an advantage when entering the workforce. Most students though are unaware that Career Services continues to be available to students for up to a year after they graduate. This gives students an outlet and a connection to USF, even after leaving the school.

For most students graduating is an exciting time and some know what their plans are for their futures. Jessica M. Aceves a senior at USF majoring in International Business and Minoring in Peace and Justice is gone back and forth with her own emotions about graduating from college. Aceves said, “In the beginning of the semester I was extremely panicked and scared because I didn’t have a plan. Then once I figured out what I wanted to do, I was excited about graduation and was confident for what was to come.” After graduation Aceves plans on joining AmeriCorps and then the PeaceCorps before going back to school for a Graduate Degree. Although Aceves has decided on her plans after graduation, she plans to continue to utilize the Career Services Center at USF, even after graduating, recognizing it as a great benefit to her.

Other information and forms outreach has also been seen by the Career Services center by them incorporating being present at orientation for incoming freshmens. This year alone, 100 freshmen students watched a presentation given by the Career Services that informs them of what their services offer and how they can provide essential assistance to each student on campus. During this year, Career Services has given over 100 class presentations, by far the most they have ever given, to various classes on campus, reaching out to graduates, students, and anyone interested in what they can provide.

By large, the biggest new form of assistance that Career Services has incorporated is helping students in networking. They found that a great number of students were not comfortable in networking, and in essence where not networking at all. They have recognized this and addressed it by simplifying the process and making it less scary for students. Networking is found in various outlets and channels today, assistance can now be found through the Career Services Center with Social Media. They provided options such as Linkedin information and assistance. Even the Arts and Science Department at USF, has debuted their online mentoring program, where alumni can mentor students.

They are even seeking out in showing students different outlets that are available to them such as events. One option open to students is in March, when Career Services hosts a Career Fair. The Career Fair is an annual event, and is an opportunity for students graduating or not, to be able to meet with employers, network, and potentially find jobs for the future.

Career Services even newly established a blog where students can go to interact with others, use the site for personal reviews and references, and be able to personal quick feedback from the career services center. This resource is just one of the many way in which career services is trying to reach out to students on campus. Although there is a lot of options the small things that graduate must remember is to fill out their graduation forms and surveys prior to being able to graduate.

Even though graduation brings excitement to students, many expressed concerns and an upset of nerves for having to make decisions for their futures. Students feel pressured, nervous, and unsure of what to do. Some students are starting jobs, and others are taking time to experience traveling the world before starting their professional careers, others are entering grad school right after graduating. Alexandra L Vonder Haar is a Business Marketing student at USF, and is about to graduate this May. Haar plans to save up enough money to move to Los Angeles to get an internship with a designer or a Public Relations firm. Haar stated, “I am really nervous because I’m completely on my own for the first time in my life and it seems extremely overwhelming.” Haar felt that she could speak for the majority of students graduating in saying that 99% of graduating students do not feel prepared.

Overall entering the world and leaving college is both overwhelming and exhilarating. Which path to take and what will come of the decision we all make today will inevitably change tomorrow. Only time will tell for each graduate what the future truly holds.

Knowing that USF has their back with options, assistance, and simply support with resume reviewing allows for all graduates to take a sigh of relief.