Freshman Frights

How to avoid stress, embarrassment and pernicious moths in your first year at Wake Forest


Maryam Khanum

Wait Chapel catches flames in the nightmares of anxious freshman as they embark on their four-year personal and academic journey at Wake Forest.

Maryam Khanum, Opinion Editor

Being a freshman in college is never an easy task — between the homesickness, the entirely new environment and the general sudden independence gained as soon as you move in, it’s almost too easy to find yourself disoriented and confused about how to navigate this change. 

Here are some freshman frights I personally experienced, and how I learned to deal with them. 

Dorm pests have definitely been a big part of my freshman frights. Most bugs I can handle — spiders, cockroaches, colonies of ants, all of which have, at some point, tried to become my college roommates unannounced and uninvited. However, having had a paralyzing phobia of moths for years, they are absolutely where I draw the line. 

When a particularly large one (I genuinely want to know what they are feeding these things because it was massive) staged a home invasion into my freshman year dorm, my first strategy was to just stand in the hallway with my room door wide open, hoping and praying it would take pity on my weak heart and leave me alone. A couple of times, the moth would find a secluded corner in my room to remain for a while so as to trick me into thinking it had left. As soon as I re-entered my room, it would again start whirring through the air in a spinning ball of weightless fury and drive me out again. 

It soon became clear that the moth had no plans to leave unless removed by force, so I did what any self-respecting, independent, feminist woman would do — I called some men to deal with the problem. To this day, I am not ashamed to admit that I called facilities and campus services to my tiny basement dorm in Luter to kill a moth for me. They are literally there to help, and they will help you if you ask for it! No phobia, concern or worry is too small, and you don’t have to kill that bug alone. 

Wake Forest Facilities, I just wanted to say if this article results in you guys being overwhelmed with calls for pest extermination from freshmen, I am so sorry in advance. 

There’s no denying how gorgeous Wake Forest campus is: red-brick buildings, fields of perfectly mowed grass, red-brick walls, giant blossoming trees, red-brick structures, picturesque paved sidewalks, more red-brick…

Not entirely sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot of red brick. 

The iconic red-brick aesthetic has caused some scary confusions before. Picture this: after roaming an unfamiliar campus aimlessly for 15 minutes looking for your first class of the day, you finally find the building you’re looking for — Manchester Hall. You enter and begin searching the labyrinth of hallways to find your class, but you can’t seem to find the right room number. In desperation, you question a student passing by you, who informs you, to your shock and horror, that you are in Reynolda Hall. 

I have been in this exact position before, and it is absolutely nerve-wracking. Being able to differentiate between buildings continues to be difficult. I couldn’t find my way from ZSR to the Pit for a month, an inability that you’ll find hilarious once you get situated. 

In time, you’ll learn to find your way around campus. But until then, Google Maps is your friend, and you can always pull up the app and figure out where you are. Before classes actually start, take some time to go visit each of your classroom buildings — this helped me familiarize myself with my surroundings and my class schedule. 

One of the most notorious and miserable features of the First Year Residence Halls is the fire alarms. You will definitely experience plenty of them; Luter Residence Hall experienced approximately 11 fire alarms within the first two weeks of the Spring 2022 semester. 

The fire alarms contain two components: an incredibly irritating flashing light in every single room and insufferably loud audio that, in some cases, consists of just siren noises, and in other cases, consists of siren noises followed by a verbal announcement explaining what is happening. 

By the time you get to sophomore year, you will have memorized this verbal announcement: “May I have your attention. May I have your attention, please. An emergency has been discovered in the building. Responsible personnel are responding. You are instructed to remain calm and orderly and to leave the building by way of the nearest exit.” You’ll be lip-syncing along with your friends and thinking about all the other dismal times it caught you off guard. 

As annoying as the verbal announcement may be, I have my reasons for thinking the alarms consisting of just the sirens are worse. I experienced my first fire alarm on a random Tuesday at 3 a.m. I didn’t know it was a fire alarm — all I knew was that a siren was going off inside of my room. 

In my partially asleep, disoriented state, I somehow convinced myself that the siren went off because I had left my window open that night. I scrambled to shut the window, but (obviously) this did not stop the siren from blaring through my residence hall. Frantically, I called my RA (shoutout to her if she is reading this, probably not, since she graduated in 2021, but thank you so much Schanika!) who calmed me down and explained what was happening to me, telling me to put on a jacket and evacuate the building. 

Essentially, if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Your Resident Adviser! They were freshmen once, too, believe it or not, and they understand exactly what you’re going through and how disorienting it can be. They will let you know what to do in unfamiliar situations, and tell you how to navigate this completely new environment. 

Over the course of the four semesters I’ve spent at Wake Forest, I have never been able to actually save my food dollars or make them last until the end of the semester. Every semester, about two or three weeks before its end, I experience an all-too-familiar sinking feeling when I realize I have run out of food dollars and my dining options are now confined to the seemingly treacherous Pit. 

We’ve all seen the memes — raw chicken, moldy ranch, toast as hard as rocks — a modern college horror story. Except, it actually isn’t all that bad. Sure, you won’t always end up with a meal you absolutely loved at the Pit, but you can always get creative. Toast a bagel and then bring it over to the salad station. Make a sandwich with salad toppings. Put some cream cheese and fruit over a pastry. Use the sandwich press for things that aren’t sandwiches. The options are vast, the possibilities endless. 

Lastly, the question on every college freshman’s mind, the question that remains as they pack up their things, travel to campus, set up their dorms and hug their parents goodbye. 

“Will I make friends? Will I fit in?” 

The most predominant freshman fright by far is not finding one’s own place in college. Not being able to cement yourself into a new community, not being able to find that foundation of people and failing at being independent. 

It will continue to be genuinely terrifying, but a piece of advice I’ve heard repeatedly that has only seemed truer and truer as I’ve continued my journey through Wake Forest is that college is what you make of it. 

Wake Forest has over 250 student-run organizations for almost every interest or hobby you may have — don’t hesitate to join the ones that you like and find your people. Extracurriculars are one of the best ways to meet people you have things in common with and make friends (if journalism happens to be one of your interests, I have a great recommendation for you). It may not work out on your first try, but in a body of over 5,000 students, you’re bound to find people you fit in with. 

Remember to put yourself out of your comfort zone, be open to new possibilities and try new things. Good luck!