Advice for Emersonians

by Holly Van Leuven

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Two years ago, I was one clueless Emersonian. I knew that I would be part of the first batch of students to reside in the Colonial building, and I stalked the Facebook Class of 2013 group daily to figure out how to check my meal plan balance and access my ECmail account, but I didn’t even yet know how to ask the questions that mattered. So, with two years of life in Boston under my belt, I offer the following advice with the best of intentions. Whether you are an incoming freshman, a transfer, or a rising senior, you can always find more ways to make the most out of your time at Emerson and in Boston.

Make a list of everything you want to see and do.

Seriously. Not just a mental list, or even a bucket list, but an honest-to-goodness pen and paper (or marker board) list of those things that will be absolutely crucial to your four years in Boston. Every time the Duck Tours pass by the DH windows, I swear I have to embark on one before I graduate. I also have to see the city from the top of the Prudential Center, attend a lecture at MIT, see the Pops, and Shakespeare Under the Stars. They’re all just sort of vague notions of what I ought to do, but once I commit them to paper, they add a whole new dimension to my Emerson experience. They make me realize all the city has to offer, and the short amount of time I have to really live Boston. The paper list, in short, is much more motivational – who doesn’t like checking things off lists?

Don’t worry about pleasing everyone.

This might be most applicable to incoming freshmen, but I’m sure we can all use reminders from time to time. One of the most intimidating experiences of your college career can be orientation. You are in a foreign place, with hundreds of people everyone is calling “your family.” You are watching the super-cool OLs act all buddy-buddy with each other, and telling the Union Bank Building and the Ansin Building apart is just as difficult as figuring out who your lifelong friends will be from amidst the throes of people. Just enjoy what comes. Play corny icebreaker games and laugh at the Dating Doctor. You don’t need to be friends with everyone at orientation, nor must you be bosom buddies with everyone living on your floor. It’s nice to be able to talk with everyone, but chances are you will be able to connect best with those people who are in your classes and your extracurriculars. Care more about bonding with those with common goals or values than the people you are thrown into the same room with.

Take the stairs.

Elevator traffic at Emerson will probably ruin your day at some point, so be proactive. That, and you will never have to feel guilty about Brownie Waffle Night if you incorporate more movement into your day. There’s something empowering about climbing to the fifth floor of Walker (but I wouldn’t go more than five flights at a clip).

Take a “terrible” teacher.

I swear if there’s anything less likely to kill you than the stairs, it’s probably Emerson’s faculty. Whether for gen-eds or major classes, there are always those professors that students seem to hate. You know, the ones with the Rate My Professors rating of around 1.8 or so. People will tell you those profs are evil, their workloads are terrible, etc. I have taken classes with many of these professors, and while they will challenge and motivate you, they will not destroy you. Most of the “worst” profs have turned out to be the best (not to say that there aren’t disappointments every once in awhile). So stay open to new challenges and ways of thinking. Be willing to cry once in awhile. You will learn more than books and PowerPoints can tell you.

Get involved in Community Service.

The opportunities here are boundless. Emerson’s Office of Service Learning and Community Action can make you feel more connected to the Boston community than the Sox or chowder can. Between their outreach programs and great organizations like Alternative Spring Break, Emerson Peace and Social Justice, all Emersonians really have a chance to make positive change their work and pleasure.

Have some advice for Emersonians you would like to share or a question to ask? Leave a comment below.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Holly VanLeuven says:

    Hi Holly,
    I couldn’t resist writing to you as we share the name Holly VanLeuven! Also my grandmother, Edna Clowes, attended Emerson back in the early 1900’s. She came by train from Butte, Montana to Boston to go to Emerson. Small world now, not so small back then!
    Good luck with your studies at Emerson.
    Holly VanLeuven

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