Choose your own adventure

Dear Class of 2015,

Welcome to Oregon State University! Whether you’ve traveled more than 8,000 miles to become a Beaver — like Indonesian Johannes Simanjuntak — or only had to drive a few blocks — like Corvallis-raised Olivia Hawkinson — you all now share one amazing home.

This fall, the OSU community is expected to include 25,000 students. That’s more students than the number of citizens in the countries of Palau, Anguilla or the Cook Islands. Like a country, OSU is comprised of diverse people with different backgrounds and interests who are united by their love for one place. At OSU, our students aren’t just bound by orange and black, but by the desire they share to improve themselves and the world around them.

Join the club

Opportunities are everywhere here — all you have to do is look for them. Just ask senior in marketing Joven Rasgo, who works as public relations and marketing manager in the Memorial Union Basement.

“There are so many different resources in each building that you can use,” Rasgo says. “You never know what you can find.”

Scholarships, clubs, internships and study help are some important resources a walk around campus might lead you to, but you’ll find that fun is around a lot of corners too.

In the MU Basement, Rasgo manages the business of play. Students can relax in the Basement with bowling, darts, shuffleboard, arcade games, foosball, air hockey, pool and TV and video games in the Beaver Den. Comfortable chairs and a relaxed atmosphere make the Basement a good place to lounge, and the many activities mean it’s one of many great spots to meet people on campus.

If bowling and billiards don’t appeal to you, find students who share your interests in one of nearly 400 registered student organizations on campus. With a wide variety of clubs, including groups focused on robotics, horticulture, chess, dodge ball and photography, there is almost certainly a club to meet your interests. Join one of OSU’s student organizations, or create your own — four students are enough to register as a recognized organization.

Senior Kelli Burkholder, who says she didn’t know about many of the university’s resources when she was a freshman, recommends that new students get started right away by taking advantage of the many activities that are available.

“Get involved early,” Burkholder says. “Right now there’s a lot of advertising and events focused on getting students involved, so now is a good time to seize those opportunities.”

Meeting new people and getting involved is exactly what freshman Kirby Erdman says she’s looking forward to most at OSU.

“I am both nervous and excited to start college — but mostly excited,” Erdman says. “I am nervous about meeting so many people at once and living away from home, but both of those things will also be exciting.”

Erdman came to OSU from California after hearing about OSU throughout her life from her father, an OSU alum. Though she was excited to be part of the college-town environment in Corvallis, Erdman says coming to a new state where she knows almost no one was intimidating. To find her place at OSU, Erdman plans to try out different activities and surround herself with other new students.

“I will definitely be doing as many things as I can,” Erdman says.

Beaver culture

Last year our students represented all 50 states and 91 countries. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet people who have experiences to share that you’ve never imagined. We’re proud of the cultures that make up our student population, and many cultural groups have developed their own support systems on campus to serve students and share their culture with the university.

“I like to see where people came from,” says freshman Lishan Yoder. “I like to learn about other cultures. When you learn and understand where other people come from, not only does it make you a better person, but it also helps you make better connections.”

Yoder was born in Ethiopia and lived in Kenya as a child, before moving to Portland, Ore. OSU’s cultural and resource centers, and numerous student cultural associations, as well as the diverse student body, promote a blend of cultures that allows students like Yoder to share their unique experiences and learn about other cultures while picking up lunch or relaxing on campus.

“I have pretty diverse friends so far,” says Leonardus Joshuang, a freshman from Jakarta, Indonesia, who heard about OSU at an educational fair. “I have made friends with someone from Germany, I played soccer yesterday with a guy from Iran and my roommate is from Hong Kong.”

You can take your understanding of a particular culture even further through an OSU study abroad program. Immerse yourself in a foreign country for a month, term or full academic year. Life-changing experiences are waiting in the nearly 70 countries all over the world where OSU offers study abroad programs. Whether you want to improve your foreign language skills, complete an internship abroad or simply savor the sights, sounds and tastes of a rich, new culture, OSU has a program suited to your goals.

If you want to learn about other places and cultures in the meantime, look no further than the people around you. Striking up a conversation may lead to new insight — and new friends.

Balancing Act

Beginning college can be an overwhelming experience, and it’s important to find a balance that includes academics, activities and fun while maintaining your physical, mental and social health. This can be especially difficult if this is your first time trying to manage school, personal health and a social life without your parents.

“I’m a little bit nervous about balancing everything out,” Yoder says. “I feel like as an incoming freshmen you have your classes but you no longer have Mom and Dad holding your hand, or your teachers reminding you what you need to do. If you don’t do something it’s your responsibility.”

While it’s true that you’ll be responsible for your own success, there are many resources on campus that can help you stay on top of things.

“Take advantage of your advisor,” Burkholder, who works as a program manager at Dixon Recreation Center, says. “The library provides study rooms and whatever technology you need, which have been great resources. Don’t be afraid to look silly or ask questions, because the staff members are here to help.”

Whether it’s a math class or an English essay you’re struggling with, there are resources on campus to help you get through any class, assignment or exam. Tutoring in multiple subjects is available in the Academic Success Center, located in Waldo Hall, along with other resources to support your academic progress. The ASC’s Writing Center, for example, is full of students familiar with essay-writing strategies who can help you improve the structure, grammar and content of your papers.

Many courses have dedicated tutors, and in those that don’t, forming your own with other students can make study time more fun and lead to new friendships. If you do find yourself struggling, you may be surprised to find how helpful your professor can be. Even when they’re teaching a class of 300, most professors are eager to aid students who take the initiative to ask for help.

And if you’re looking to relax, you can check out the Mind Spa (which is run by Counseling and Psychological Services) where you can soothe your mind, body, and spirit, for free.

When it comes to balancing a multitude of activities with academics, senior Annemarie Schulte has a lot of experience. This year, Schulte is captain of the OSU Elite Dance Team, a member of Delta Gamma sorority and a student worker in the College of Forestry — all in addition to working to finish her double degree in English and education. To keep up with all of her activities while maintaining her academics, Schulte says she takes advantage of any extra time she has to complete tasks.

“If you can get it done within 20 minutes, do it right then, don’t wait,” Schulte says. “Never forget what you came to OSU for: academics. I find that when your studies start to suffer, everything else crumbles as well.”

When classes and homework become too stressful, Burkholder recommends exercising during study breaks to simultaneously reduce stress and promote physical health.

“I think it’s crucial to your success here as a student to find an outlet,” Burkholder says. “It might not be working out in a structured manner, it might be taking a walk around campus with a friend or getting involved in intramural sports, which is a less structured workout but still provides exercise and fun.”

Through OSU Recreational Services, students can use facilities at Dixon Recreation Center, McAlexander Fieldhouse and the Student Legacy Park to work out, play sports and learn about health and fitness.

Those who enjoy watching games can experience the excitement of Pac-12 sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, soccer or another sport that inspires you to stand up and cheer for your team, there are plenty of games, matches and meets where you can support OSU Athletics and sport your Beaver pride while feeling the thrill of competition.

Starting now…

It’s time to begin your college experience. The class — or the party — that you’ve been imagining all summer, the dorm layout you’ve arranged in your mind, the friends you’re ready to meet, it’s all happening now.

“I’m really excited for everything,” says freshman Stephanie Huang after her first day on campus. “It feels so different than high school. I’m living on my own now, and it’s a lot of freedom.”

If Huang’s feelings resonate with your own, use the excitement and ambition you’re feeling now to do something amazing here. The resources and experiences available at OSU are what you make of them. Study abroad in Tunisia, England or Argentina. Complete an internship as an engineer, a photographer or a designer, or blend the three together. Maybe you’re not sure if you want to start a club, become ASOSU president or participate in groundbreaking medical research. The good news: You can do all three without leaving campus. Welcome to OSU. What will you do here? That’s up to you.

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