Etiquette Guide: Look like you know what you’re doing
This whole week, you’ll probably be inundated with information about Carnegie Mellon: how to use the Port Authority buses, how to get along with your roommate, and how to be prepared for your classes. While that information is important and useful, it doesn’t really teach you how to deal with Carnegie Mellon’s unique idiosyncrasies. So here are a few tips on how to seem less like a first-year (no offense) and more like a well-adjusted member of the Carnegie Mellon community (you’re welcome).
Don’t bring your Segway indoors. Perhaps you’re one of the few people at Carnegie Mellon who have a Segway; good for you. But do you really need to ride it through the University Center? You don’t see anyone riding their bicycles indoors. Park it outside, please.
Do paint the fence. You’ve probably already seen the Fence and heard all about it during your various campus tours. It’s not overrated, though. Painting the Fence is an integral part of the Carnegie Mellon experience — and if nothing else, it’s probably the only time you can graffiti a piece of public property without the risk of getting in trouble. Just make sure you follow the rules when you paint it.
Do be passionate. Chances are, in high school, you often had to tone down your love of LARPing or obscure British poets for fear that your peers would judge you. Well, it’s your lucky day — here at Carnegie Mellon, everyone has something specific and nerdy they love, so don’t be afraid to tell your roommate about that great new anime you found online. Be careful, though — it’s good to be passionate, but...
Don’t make obscure references in conversation. You can usually take it for granted that whomever you’re talking to reads xkcd and will understand Pokémon jokes. However, unless you know you’re talking to a fellow Homestuck fan, please don’t start speaking only in Homestuck references. It will just confuse people.
Do be quiet in the upper floors of the library. Its nickname may be Club Hunt, but it is still first and foremost a library. If you want to take a break from studying and Skype loudly with one of your high school friends, do it somewhere else.
Don’t sit by yourself at a large table on the University Center’s second floor. Do you see how that table has five chairs surrounding it? That means it’s supposed to have five people sitting at it. There are a lot of other people who eat there, and if you take a large table to sit at by yourself, everyone else looking for a table will silently judge you.
Do know how to order food efficiently. This includes, but is not limited to: having your money ready when you’ve reached the checkout counter; knowing your order when you get to the front of the line at La Prima; and having your sandwich order ready when they ask for it at The Exchange. You’re all smart people. Just use common sense and be quick about it.
Do dump cheese onto your pasta at Pasta Villaggio. The pasta, be it with marinara, alfredo, or vodka sauce, can lack a little zing in this University Center eatery. For one, it needs more salt. Plus, it doesn’t help that the cheese shaker at the counter has a problem letting the Parmesan fall out of those tiny holes. So don’t feel bad if you have to open it up and pour some extra on your pasta, even if other people glare at you. Just know your food is going to taste wonderful.
Do leave the computer clusters and act sociable. Yes, we know you’re a computer science, engineering, or College of Fine Arts student. And fine, let’s just agree that business and humanities students have a lot of work, too. But always sitting alone in the computer clusters isn’t healthy. Go study with your friends or take a break and get some Razzy Fresh. Honestly, it is somewhat sad to see people at odd hours — for example, 3 a.m. on a Friday night — working alone in a cluster. Do everyone a favor and go have some fun.
Do stand in line to get a free mug the next time someone donates millions of dollars to Carnegie Mellon. When Carnegie Mellon received a generous donation of $265 million dollars from Bill Dietrich last year, a lot of us missed out on the “Thank you Bill” glasses and other merchandise. It’s a great souvenir. Those who got it know its sentimental value. And those who didn’t, well, better luck next time.
Do go to social events with free food, but be social while you’re there. There are plenty of barbecues and free dinners that will happen at the beginning of the semester. By all means, take advantage of the free food — you are a broke college student now, after all — but don’t show up for the sole purpose of loading up a plate and leaving. Try talking to the members of the organization hosting the event. Even if you’ve never been interested in that activity before, give it a chance. You no longer have to be the person you were in high school; you’re free to be interested in anything and everything. And even if you try an activity and don’t like it, at least you’ll have met new people.