The year 2020 was unparalleled and brought hardships for many people — especially students and people working. 

Unfortunately, I am one of those students who was sharply affected. I had to have a virtual high school graduation and start my first year of college at home. This was quite a unique circumstance for myself and many incoming college students who thought they would get to have the ‘’traditional’’ college experience.  

Looking back, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to spend at least a portion of my first year here in Athens. Considering I spent half of my freshman year at home, coming to Athens in January was a really good fresh start for me. 

With this in mind, I have a few special takeaways from my first year here at Ohio University. 

Cherish your friends & make new ones

The biggest thing I can take away from my first year at OU is that I’m very glad I had an amazing support system and group of friends who helped out a lot this year. Coming to campus, I was lucky to have made a bunch of friends from my learning community and I had connections before I had even moved to Athens. So, a little advice, please make sure you put yourself out there and try to meet a bunch of new people. 

Bring your car

When I had the opportunity to tour campus last March, my tour guides specifically stated that I wouldn't need my car here on campus. I’m incredibly lucky I decided not to listen to them. I paid the small $175 fee for a parking pass and I’m glad I did. I was able to go whenever I wanted and whenever I wanted. I also got to explore the beauty of Southeastern Ohio and visit numerous parks.

If you have the opportunity, please be sure to buy a parking pass and bring your car to campus because you won’t regret it. 

Take care of yourself

Please, in whatever you may do, consider taking care of yourself first. This would include your physical and mental health; keep these a priority. We had three wellness days this semester which were somewhat helpful but, they really weren't enough. As a first year student, there's a huge amount of pressure to succeed. Back in January and February, I did not manage my stress well nor did I pay attention to my wellbeing. I eventually learned that staying mindful is so very important and you should always take some time for yourself. Don’t get caught in the small things, trust me!

Don’t overpack your dorm

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Don’t bring too many clothes and too many unnecessary things when you move to campus. Consider your roommates and how much space you’ll have in your dorm. Only bring the essentials, which OU lists here. This will save you time and a headache when you try to move back out again. 

Join student organizations

For my last important takeaway, as an incoming student I highly suggest joining a bunch of student-led organizations and getting involved. I know it’s a bit cliche to tell incoming college students to get involved, but joining orgs like The Post has really opened numerous doors for me and put me on the map. You get the chance to meet a lot of new people and network. 

Tre Spencer is a freshman studying photojournalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tre know by tweeting him @trerspencer1.