Upperclassmen secrets for freshman newbies

by Gretchen Kuhsel / Beacon Correspondent • September 21, 2016

Emerson’s Class of 2020 may seem like they’ve mastered the art of looking effortlessly cool (ahem, 17-year-old in the chic jean jacket and Ivy Park hat smoking a cigarette outside Whiskey Saigon in between classes), but that doesn’t exempt them from figuring out how to navigate the unchartered territories of freshman year. Luckily, there are thousands of upperclassmen who have had two or more years to make mistakes, learn from them, and then make plenty more in college. 
 
Not-so-lonely hearts club
Mary Frances Noser, a junior performing arts major, has been a sister of Kappa Gamma Chi since her second semester of her junior year. She said that as an underclassman, she noticed many of the women she admired at Emerson were involved with the professional sorority, so she lined up to pledge and proudly sported her emerald ascot around campus. 
 
“I looked to my sisters in Kappa for support,” Noser said. “I went to all the info sessions and meetings, but really didn’t think I was going to get a bid because I was just a freshman. But now, here I am, two years later and I’m so happy that I saw what I wanted to do and just went for it.” 
 
Like Noser, Suzie Hicks, a junior marketing communication major, said she felt her freshman standing held her back from joining professional organizations. Though her resume now boasts impressive positions like production coordinator for the children’s theater group Kidding Around, vice president of a capella group Noteworthy, and promotions and DJ at WERS, she says she only had the courage to audition for Noteworthy during her first year at Emerson.
 
 “My first semester freshman year, all I did was go to class and sleep. I was not involved at all with things like orientation and the EVVYs because I didn’t think that I was good enough. I completely regret that,” Hicks said. She said if someone were to tell her freshman year that she was applying to host the 36th annual EVVY award show in May, she wouldn’t have believed them. 
 
Like Hicks, Autumn Myers, a junior marketing communication major, wants to urge freshmen to get involved with organizations that might seem out of reach. Myers said she lives her life by the motto “fake it ‘till you make it”—an attitude that has landed her two eBoard positions, as well as an exciting internship at the major concert producing company, Live Nation. 
 
“Even if you see a position that’s made for upperclassmen—apply,” Myers said. “Just go for it and make them say no to you, because for all you know, they might accept you based on who you are or what experience you have.”
 
If you wanna be my lover…
With almost 800 young adults living in Little Building alone, exciting and potentially complex love lives are bound to bud in these beginning years of college. Many upperclassmen tell their war stories of  “floor-cest,” a tongue-in-cheek term used for relationships between floormates. 
 
Jess Fillipone, a junior journalism major, met her boyfriend of a year and half in the sweaty, dank basement of a Mission Hill apartment. They quickly bonded over the fact that they were both promised a wild college party, and it was anything but that. She admits that it wasn’t the most romantic setting, but she said she’s thankful to be in a committed relationship and out of the dating scene. 
 
“Dating at Emerson is just... it’s just weird,” Fillipone said. “We’re such a small school and it can be awkward.” 
 
Logan Romjue, a junior visual media arts major, had quite the opposite experience, though. Like many students, they came to Emerson in an existing high school relationship. Both Romjue and their partner came to Emerson together, but ended up not branching out as much as they could have because of their relationship. 
 
“I wish I had paid attention to making sure that I was becoming the person that I wanted to be, even though I was focusing a lot of my energy on being in a relationship,” Romjue said.
 
They said they don’t think that breaking up with a significant other is the be-all and end-all solution, but much like Noser found reevaluating friendships helped her grow as an adult, Romjue wishes that they took a step back and thought critically about their relationship. 
 
Romjue said they didn’t realize how co-dependent they were until they studied abroad at Kasteel Well. With the Atlantic Ocean between them, reflection ensued, and they came to the difficult decision to end the relationship. 
 
“I had a lot of time to think and be my own person, and I realized that I needed to let go,” Romjue said.
 
You gotta get with my friends  
Thanks to class Facebook groups, many first year students come in to Emerson having a basic understanding of who their roommate and/or suitemates are. At the very least, they’ve discussed who is going to bring a fridge and hopefully decided against the Bob Marley poster. Your roommate is often the first friendly connection you make at Emerson, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. 
 
Friendships within Fillipone’s suite didn’t come as naturally as she hoped. She has since found her core group of friends through her work at WERS and in her classes, but she said that she didn’t feel like she could turn to her roommates for support. 
 
“I tried really hard to be best friends with my roommates and suitemates. But, if it doesn’t work, don’t force it. Learn how to be civil and live with each other, but make your own friends,” Fillipone said. 
 
Learning how to reflect on relationships and make healthy decisions for friendships is something that Noser knows well, too. When explaining how a friend she met during orientation started to emotionally drain her, she recalled having to put herself first and end the friendship. 
 
“When friends come and go, that can hurt. I found that it’s totally okay to remove yourself from bad situations with people who you thought were your friends. It’s okay to drift apart from people in a kind and considerate way,” Noser said.  
 
However, in drifting apart from people who you originally thought would be life-long friends, it makes space for new connections. Suzie Hicks said that once she came to terms with the fact that she and her roommate were not best friends, she pushed herself to branch out of Little Building dorm and find connections elsewhere. 
 
“My heart is really full because of all the people I’ve met through orgs. If I didn’t meet them, I probably would’ve transferred,” Hicks said.  
 
Growing pains
Many Emerson students pride themselves on self-assurance when it comes to knowing what they want to get out of college and their careers. Hicks said she had resigned herself to taking marketing classes, eventually working for a major marketing firm, and perhaps acting on the side. Just two years later, though, she’s embarking on designing her own major and dreams of running her own non-profit and theater company. 
 
“If there’s something that you’re not doing because you don’t think you’re good enough, or don’t think that you’re capable, ignore that little voice in your head that’s telling you that,” Hicks said. “As long as you say ‘here I am, I am willing to commit to this, and I am good enough,’ everything will fall into place.”
 
Noser is a strong believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, too. She said that one of the most important and inspiring lessons she learned as a freshman came from her acting professor. He had a poster on his door with a large circle titled “your comfort zone” and a small circle on the side titled “where growth happens,” and a dotted line connecting the two circles. 
 
“Do what scares you,” Noser challenges freshmen. “If there are people in your common room and you don’t really know them— just go and sit down and see what happens. If people are going to the Esplanade at 11 o’clock at night, just go and figure out what happens. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but at least you know.”