CMU Survival Guide

Credit: Zichen Liu/Photo Editor Credit: Zichen Liu/Photo Editor

As someone who is in constant flux between days when I feel overwhelmed and incompetent and days when I feel in control and impossibly content, I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m qualified to give advice on how to survive (let alone thrive) at Carnegie Mellon.

What I can say is I love it here, but it took some time to learn how.

So, here are a few lessons that turned Carnegie Mellon from my school to my second home. Hopefully they help you feel the same.

Find Your People
From classmates, to lab partners, to roommates, to the assortment of people you end up seeing at random parties, you will meet so many people at Carnegie Mellon. The key is to figure out which ones you really want to get to know.

Find that person or group that makes you laugh, makes you excited, and makes you think. Find the other nerds that care as much as you do about the things you love. Take advantage of the strangers in your new classes, or start a conversation with that person you keep eavesdropping on. Be willing to reach out and push through the awkward first moments of introductory conversation for the chance that once the conversation gets started you won’t want it to end. It might take a while but eventually you’ll find them.

Stay Close to Your People
When you do find your people, stick by them. It’s easy to make friends, but the further into the year we get the more difficult it becomes to find time to maintain them. Make an effort to hang out, to get lunch or grab coffee or just talk. And along with your new people, don’t forget the old ones. Basically, don’t forget to call your Mom. Or your best friend, or your brother, or whomever it is that means home to you.

Stay Healthy
Eat vegetables. Not only are they good for you, but also they can taste really good!

Get sleep. Not minimal sleep, but maximum sleep. The kind of sleep that’s a 10- to 12-hour blackout. Because why compete for who can get the least amount of sleep when you could be the one who sleeps the most?

Drink water.

Wash your hands and avoid all people that make the slightest coughing or sniffling sound. Invest in NyQuil, Vitamin C, and copious amounts of cough drops and tissues.

Exercise. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, whether it’s walking on the track, going to a Group X class, riding a bike, or getting swole in the weight room. Consider using your daily Group X class to try something new like Zumba or kickboxing, and convince your friends to come with you so you can all laugh at each other.

Stay Happy
Find a balance. Work hard and reward yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You have RA’s, advisors, friends, and organizations such as CAPS, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and so many more that will always be there to support you. Don’t let labels get to you. You are not your major or your grades: you are so much more. Try to feed your passions by taking advantage of the places, experiences, and people Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh have to offer. Try getting off campus to eat, see a show, or visit a park or museum. Or just find a place on campus to soak up as much sun as possible while it’s still shining. Check out the mindfulness room if you’re looking to take a break or pet some puppies.

Speaking of puppies, take advantage of all dog sightings. Seeing a dog (or the BXA cats) should be the first step in your journey to petting that animal and eventually rolling around on the ground with it. You will feel so much better after a dog gives you a slobbery smile.

And most importantly, don't judge your insides by other people's outsides.

What I mean is, you will have tough times. But so will everyone else. There will be moments when you find yourself comparing yourself to others or holding yourself to impossible standards. In those moments remind yourself that you are here for a reason, that you deserve to be here, that the tough times are worth it, and that in the end, everything is going to work out just fine.