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Opinion

Changes in the current semester call for creative planning, ideas

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February 3, 2012

Winter break is now over and we have been back on campus now for nearly two weeks. A month long break was relaxing and a chance to “recharge” from last semester for all of us, but it did not prepare us for the changes to happen in the new semester. There are new classes, new professors, new people, colder weather and even a change in who you still see on a daily basis and who has suddenly disappeared.

I personally did not realize how different my fall semester would be from spring semester already. I thought they would both be strikingly similar, living in the same room and having a few of the same classes. But it felt like the first day of college again when I walked into classrooms where I knew absolutely no one. I am sure everyone has experienced the same thing. There is nothing more intimidating than not knowing anyone. The semester will become a lot easier if you just turn to the person next to you and say “hello.” That could be difficult to do, especially if you are shy like me, but I have realized that saying hello can go a long way. You might just meet one of your closest lifetime friends in this new semester. This is only my second semester of college and reaching out to people I don’t know has helped me form some really strong friendships already. Having a study group with a few people from new classes is also a good idea to help meet new people and really learn what they are like. It not only helps you succeed in class, but it will also expand your social circle and make the campus seem that much smaller.

Another intimidating part of starting a new semester is a change of professors. After a three-month-long semester, you get accustomed to your professors’ teaching styles and get to know them on a personal basis. Then, suddenly you are in new classes and have to get accustomed to new teaching styles. It does take a while to get used to, as I have realized with my new classes. However, taking advantage of office hours, making sure you know exactly what to expect in the class and getting help from your professor can make you feel more comfortable in the class.

Coming back from break means coming back to brisk, gloomy days. Not to say that November and December had their fair share of frigid days, they did, but the early months of the new year leave people “down in the dumps” and not willing to go outside. I don’t understand how people could like the subzero temperatures and sidewalks that are solid ice. I thoroughly enjoyed this mild January that we had with sunny days that got into the 50s. People were happy about the miserable cold returning! I do not enjoy the freezing winter and I am sure there are others that do not either. There are many ways to get through these long, cold winter months. For instance, going sledding is always a fun activity, even in college. Also, making hot chocolate, tea or a bowl of soup are great ways to keep warm during the cold days.

Some of the new changes take us by surprise and we are not sure how to react to them. A new semester brings new students to campus, but it is also a surprise to return to your dorm room to discover many people you formerly lived with and talked to all the time, are no longer there. Whenever I would talk with my mom about the people I live with, she would often say, “You watch, half of those people will be gone by spring.” I never truly believed her, but I came back to discover that some of the rooms had been left vacant and people that had once lived just a few rooms down had left for various reasons. It seems very empty now without some of the people here, which is sad. But this new chapter just means moving on with your life and getting a fresh start. That does not mean you don’t contact the people that are now gone, but focusing on classes and getting involved on and around campus is more important.

These are just a few tips and things to keep in mind as the new semester starts. There are many changes for everyone, but the trick is to just know how to handle the changes and make the best of it. Happy spring semester, everyone!

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.