Advice for the Overwhelmed

I was a new Upper last year, so I can easily recall my first few days at Andover. My dominant feeling? Anxious but excited, and very overwhelmed. I hated my BlueCard picture, had no clue how to actually open my mailbox and couldn’t keep track of anyone’s name, even my roommate’s. Yet by the end of the year I started calling Andover my second home. I understand that life here appears overly stressful and chaotic. I am not going to lie: at times, it is. But we all manage to pull through. So here, in no particular order, is my advice to you on how to get through the year: 1. Find a routine. Though waiting around at 2 a.m. for your laundry to finish and chatting until the wee hours of the morning with your best friends from home may seem reasonable now, by November things won’t look so bright. As simple as it sounds, establishing habits and finding a regular schedule helps your life at Andover fall into place. Set a daily time to go to sleep, put down your 17th slice of breakfast pizza (though it is delicious) and start balancing your meals, avoid midnight caffeine binges and make note to get your laundry done on the weekends. 2. Find time to relax. As part of your routine as an Andover student, you must, must, must set time aside to relax. By relax I do not necessarily mean whip out a yoga mat and start meditating on the floor. Rather, find something that takes your mind off of school work. For me, I might play my ukulele (yes, I own a ukulele), clean or brew some tea. Others run or doodle or even knit. Life at Andover does not always have to be stressful! And yes it is completely possible to have a full schedule, do varsity sports, be active in clubs, direct drama labs and find time to relax. The secret: don’t procrastinate. 3. Sleep. Get some. At least 8 hours. Every night. I’m not kidding. 4. Take advantage of all the resources. Almost every week at Andover, incredible speakers fly from around the world to talk to us. So, see them! Sit in on CAMD scholar presentations, chat with your teachers during conference, find interesting clubs to attend, and sign up to go work in a soup kitchen! The more you take initiative around campus, the more rewarding your school year will be. 5. Don’t freak out. Have no fear, you will catch on to the weird Andover lingo in no time, master pathway etiquette with ease, scope out your favorite part of Commons and figure out how to work the lock on your mailbox. Just remember, you were accepted at Andover for a reason. So stop thinking that you will fail all of your classes. Instead, focus that brain energy on something worthwhile, like meeting people and exploring campus. HAVE FUN. So, there it is: my advice as an old new Upper to all of you new students. I hope it will help you through these tough,first few weeks of school. I wish you all the best of luck in this 2009-2010 school year and beyond! Calista Small is a two-year Senior from Northfield, Minnesota.