Dear incoming Interlochen First Years…
- Don’t touch or sit on the bear. You will learn this quickly if you haven’t already, but the bear is where the people pee. Not casually of course, but hey, it’s a tradition.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Especially during the first couple of weeks. If someone comes up and introduces themselves smile and do the same. Go up, introduce yourself, ask about majors and stuff. People are extremely kind at Inty and kids who have been there for a few years usually have some good advice to give the new students. Seriously the friends and the people you meet are going to be one of the best parts of your experience here.
- Don’t let yourself get too caught up in your work. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. But don’t forget you still need to sleep (important), eat (IMPORTANT), get out (IMPORTANT), and rest for a little bit (VERY IMPORTANT). If you feel like it’s starting to get too much then go for a little walk, meditate, get some ice cream at the MoFro (Melody Freeze), chill with some friends, curl up in your dorm with some popcorn and a movie. It’s OK to take a breather once in awhile and you’ll find it’s easier to get back to work and focus after you’ve cleared your mind and calmed down.
- Use the Shed. The Shed is what we call the gym at Interlochen. It’s got a workout room and a small gymnasium that you can use. Whether you use it every day to get or keep in shape or once in awhile when you just want to have some fun and play some basketball it’s good to go in once in awhile.
- Don’t be afraid to use tutorials or study hall. Tutorials are individual chunks of time that teachers set aside if students want to come in and work during the evenings or if they need extra help. The teachers are amazing and seriously don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t understand something. Or if you just need a semi-quiet environment to get your work done in the evenings and you need to get out of your dorm.
- Lunchtime naps are your savior. If you didn’t get enough sleep or are just worn out from working lunch is the perfect time to take a quick nap and get recharged. Lunch is usually about an hour long, ten minutes at the beginning and end to get out/get to class then the other 40 as a break. What I found works for me is grab an energy drink or some coffee at the Scholarshop and drink that before laying down for a quick 10-20 minute nap (it takes 15 minutes for caffeine to kick in and when you wake up you’ll feel twice as refreshed as before) and going to grab a quick bite at Stone. Don’t forget to set an alarm anyway though, or if your roommate has the same lunch ask if they can make sure you’re awake.
- Feeling Homesick? Give mom and dad a call or Skype them, or write them a letter letting them know how you’re doing. Then keep working hard at your art and your studies. If that still doesn’t help, grab some friends, to go the Melody Freeze and get some ice cream before dicking around on campus for a few hours or watching a movie. Just keep yourself busy with something and the next break will be there in no time.
- Get a mini-fridge. No seriously get one with your roommate. Split the bill on it. It will save your ass when you don’t have time to run to stone/have leftovers/have drinks. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy but I HIGHLY recommend getting one with your roommate eventually. Or if you have the money each of you get one. If something doesn’t fit there’s usually a full-size fridge in your dorm that you can use with permission but it’s kinda inconvenient and yeah.
- Have microwavable food. Mac and Cheese, Ramen Noodles, Soup, Popcorn, etc. will all save your life at some point or another. Especially in the oh-so-cold winters.
- Decorate. You are going to be living in that dorm room for 9 months. Make it feel like home! Get some posters, or Christmas lights, or pictures from home.
- Counselors are there for you. If you’re having any issues, any at all that you feel an adult needs to know talk to your Hall Counselor. Not only do they have fun activities every few weeks, but they will really try and help you through whatever problem it is. If you’re feeling homesick, friend issues, anything. They are like your big sister/brother away from home. And if you don’t feel comfortable with them there’s always Hall Assistants and teachers that will be happy to help.
- Dabble in other art forms. Let’s say you are a music major. But you have an interest in theatre too. Go see all their shows. Ask to play in the pit for the musicals. Volunteer yourself for their projects. Nobody will say “but that’s not your major”. And if they do, ignore them because they’re dumb. (The music-theatre thing is just an example you could be a spaghetti major and participate in broccoli activities for all I care.)
- Have fun. Yes, it’s scary being away from home for the first time. Yes, your parents won’t be there every single day. Yes, it’s challenging and terrifying and all sorts of other things. But it is absolutely worth it. It is going to be one of the best experiences of your lives and please don’t be afraid to branch out or try something new or talk to other students or go to mixers or anything. If you have any questions or just want someone to talk to I’ll always be around campus and feel free to introduce yourself or give me a hug or anything. You’re one big weird family when you’re here and even if you don’t know everyone, they’re still there for you. Make the most of everything and don’t let it go to waste. Have nights with your friends, go downtown, try an art form you never tried before, experiment with mug recipes. But most of all just have fun and enjoy it. Work hard with a smile on your face. And if you ever need anything I’m here. So are your friends, your teachers, your parents, your dorm, and the cool thing is, you’ll be there too.
- Love yourself. Be kind to yourself and others. If you feel you don’t love yourself at one point or another, don’t fake it until you make it; fake it until you BECOME it.
- Addition (May 28, 2016): Enjoy it while you can. Love yourself, love your opportunities, love your successes and failures, love your insecurities, love your friends and family. Love love. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.