Transitioning to college: tips and tricks from a peer health educator

Posted by Adam Cohen

Welcome (back) to college. I know, I'm a little late with the welcome wagon and you're all sick of hearing it already, but I've got some good information to share that will help you survive these first few weeks and have a successful semester.

It may sound like I'm only speaking to first-year students, but really, who wouldn't want to hear some good tips to improve quality of life on campus? I'm going to cover some basic elements of campus life in this article, as well as some tips for an easy transition.

Let's start with nutrition. Eating at the dining hall can be really exciting, especially when you first get to school. Unfortunately, this means overeating in the buffet-style setting will be one of the most difficult things to resist.

In order to maintain a healthy diet, there are a few simple changes you can make while eating at D-Hall. First, try to take a full look at what there is to offer for the day before grabbing that slice of pizza right when you walk in, or heading straight to the diner.

Secondly, look out for some healthy foods to add to your plate. The dining hall offers great healthy options – be sure to check out Emily's Garden for a small DIY salad, one of its pre-made salads or delicious vegetarian options

Try to keep your focus on balance. Replace a piece of cake or cookies at lunch with a fresh apple a few times a week, or grab a refreshing glass of water instead of sugary juice. Following one or all of these simple tricks will find you in much better nutritional health in no time.

Let's move on to fitness. Skidmore students are actually much more privileged than it may seem when it comes to fitness opportunities, and fitness is a huge part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and feeling good in general.

Our campus is very walk-able, allowing all of us to get at least some exercise in our daily activities (not to mention the stair climbing exercise that the residents of Scribner Village get each morning!)

But just walking around campus is usually not enough exercise for the day. We have great gym facilities with all kinds of exercise machines and sports equipment. The gym is open to all students and faculty, with long hours from early morning to late at night on the weekdays.

We also have access to plenty of outdoor activities while the weather is still nice! There's nothing like going on a hike or run in North Woods, and for those of us with bikes, the ride to town is beautiful this time of year.

For those who don't own their own cycles, the bike rental program on campus is a great resource – just rent a bike from Campus Safety on the ground level of Jonsson Tower for the day and go for a ride!

There are also mountain biking trails close to campus, which the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association (SMBA) and its members constantly use. Check out its website for more information - Skidmore's a great place to take up mountain biking, hiking and even intramural sports!

Finally, one of the most important topics as we progress into the colder weather is wellness.

This semester I'm living in Scribner with three friends, all of whom have a cold or cough. Sickness spreads like wildfire on a college campus, so it's definitely worth taking some precautions.

Your first defense against sickness is sleep. I know it's practically impossible to get enough sleep at college, but do your best. And if you don't get enough sleep, at least try to take a nap during the day – it really helps!

There have actually been some studies suggesting that taking a nap during the day actually helps you remember what you've learned that day. My suggestion is try to fit in a half hour nap if you feel you need it.

Additionally, try to wash your hands often and well. Avoid sharing drinks with others who may be sick, and if you are sick and don't feel well enough to go to class, then don't! Most professors are very understanding when it comes to sickness-related absences, and you don't want to spread germs to an entire class. (But don't take advantage of the sniffles just to sleep in, as tempting as that may be.)

If you do get sick, don't be afraid to get help by going to Health Services. It's a great, free service to students and should be used when necessary.

I hope this information has been helpful, and that students will take advantage of the resources at Skidmore.

Adam Cohen is a Peer Health Educator who knows more about your body than you do.

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