Dear IU Newcomer:
First of all, congratulations on having made the right choice: attending IU. (I’m *mostly* kidding.)
As a recent grad, I have a lot of thoughts about how I spent my time at IU and how, in light of the pandemic bringing last semester’s in-person activity to a screeching halt, I’d do things differently. So, with a heaping dose of nostalgia, here’s my advice to you: Say yes to everything. Join all the email list-servs. Get a good taste of what all the cool and talented and passionate students are up to. Try new things that you’ve always harbored a curiosity for—for me, that was Model United Nations and helping edit a literary journal. Maybe even get a tad bit overwhelmed by it all.
With social distancing still a major imperative if we’re going to beat the pandemic, campus life is probably going to look and feel a lot different this fall. I can assure you, though, that your fellow newcomers will also be yearning for the new social connections college usually promises. So jump on the Zoom mixers, even if they seem a little goofy or awkward. You’ll be sure to find friends, collaborators, and other new connections—people with whom you can catch a film at the IU Cinema once they’re able to resume their normal programming. For now, though, catch Fallout: Art in This Time, an online gallery from the Grunwald Gallery of Art about the work and practices of artists during the pandemic. I think you’ll be inspired by their resiliency under the circumstances—and hopefully, take some of that with you as you head into what is sure to be an unusual semester.
And here’s my second piece of advice: Once you’ve got a good taste of everything IU has to offer, start saying no to things. You can’t do it all, as tempting as it is to think you can. Think hard and long about what makes you happy, what makes you curious, and, yes, what lines up with where you want your future career to take you. Saying yes to too many responsibilities and obligations inevitably means you’ll drop the ball on someone—and that’s a terrible feeling. So be intentional but firm about where your boundaries lie. (They should most definitely include you getting enough sleep!) I think if you do this, you’ll hit the fine balance between getting the most out of your time at IU and being good to yourself and your wellbeing.