Welcome to Gonzaga. You’ve made it to campus, ready to start a new chapter of your life. The world is a different place than you perhaps thought it would be, but this in no way means you won’t be successful or find your niche.

Your first few weeks on campus can be daunting while you try to find your footing and your place here at GU. I promise you that this feeling is only temporary, and to help you with your transition I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to help you feel at home on campus. 

Experience everything you can. In the event your classes and other events are moved online, getting involved is still an essential part of creating your GU community. Participating in whatever format and capacity is offered is a great way to build relationships with your peers, roommates and even professors. Be sure to look around campus to find out what events are taking place.

Step outside your comfort zone. It is perfectly OK to be nervous or even scared coming into your first year, but don’t let fear stop you from trying new things or sparking up a conversation with someone new. You never know where a little courage can lead you. 

Be authentic. Being vulnerable and honest is difficult, especially around people you’ve just met. The payoff of this is immensely rewarding and can help you find ways to feel fulfilled on campus. Don’t be afraid to switch things up week by week, you aren’t obligated to stick with every activity you try.

Start good study habits now. Experiment and find a routine that works best for your style of learning. Maybe you need to always sit in the same chair in class, listen to music when studying or wait a few hours to process information before starting homework. Whatever your style is always make sure to set aside enough time for assignments and studying to avoid last minute cram sessions. 

Academics are important, but so is your well-being. Take time out of your week to spend with friends and practice self-care, however that may look for you. If it’s watching a movie, calling home, taking a walk or all of the above, care for your mind, body and spirit. It will inevitably make you a better student as well. 

Learn about the different resources on campus and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you are seeking academic tutoring or someone to confide in about your feelings, GU has resources for all our students’ needs. 

Talk to your RA. In addition to being lovely people who are excited to get to know you, the resident assistants are here to support and guide you in anything you may need in your first year. They know first hand the jitters that come with being a freshman and are here for you as you transition to life at GU. 

Explore Spokane. From Centennial Trail and Manito Park, to the downtown Riverside area, Spokane has much to offer all year round and will quickly start feeling like a new home. 

Go to office hours. Office hours are a great tool even if you’re not struggling in a class. They are beneficial to establishing a good relationship with your professors and help create that sense of community that GU is known for. Your professors are as excited to meet you as you are to meet them. 

Call your mom. It’s simple but it’s true. Make sure to keep in contact with friends and family from home often to help ease the feeling of homesickness. This feeling is completely normal and many students experience it whether they’re honest about it or not. Hearing a familiar voice, even for five minutes can help you feel calmer and ready to take on the day. 

At the end of the day, remember that GU is here for you no matter what. Whatever your needs may be there is always someone on campus to help you, all you have to do is reach out. 

This year will certainly have its ups and downs, as like any new school year, but if you engage in the community and stay safe, you can thrive and find your place on campus. We’re happy to have you and excited to meet you.

Caitlin Relvas is a staff writer

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