A group of students standing around a table for friendsgiving
Category: Campus Life, Student Experience

Title: A Student’s Reflection on Her First Semester of College at Georgetown

Author: Sydney Carroll (C’27)
Date Published: January 17, 2024

With my second semester beginning, I’ve officially survived my first semester on the Hilltop! It feels like I’ve been here for years and also like it’s been two seconds since I flew in. 

Arriving at Georgetown, I was definitely excited but also super nervous. I felt like I had done all that I could to prepare — I’d packed, found my roommate and watched countless dorm tour videos (which is crazy because I’ve now made my own dorm tour video). Let me assure you that no matter how many videos you watch, you still can never fully be prepared for what college will bring. However, hearing from people who have been where you are before can still help calm your nerves and give you insight into how to move forward.

So, after a semester filled with highs, lows and everything in between, I figured I’d take a moment to reflect on my time in college thus far and give some advice to whatever scared 18-year-old finds this blog next August while searching through Georgetown’s website, just like I did.

Go To Floor Events to Meet Friends

A group of students standing around a table for friendsgiving
A friendsgiving hosted by my floor (complete with a real turkey!)

Maybe I just got lucky to have an awesome floor in my dorm, but my floor events have been some of the most fun nights I’ve had all semester. We’ve had everything from a poker night to a poorly cooked Friendsgiving, and it’s helped build a sense of community on our floor. More importantly than any scheduled event, most nights when you walk by our common room you’ll find anywhere from 3-20 of my floormates just hanging out, talking, doing homework and probably making some form of mac and cheese. Being close with the people on my floor has made my life so much richer, and awkward bathroom run-ins that much more bearable.

Be on the Lookout for Free Stuff

Two young women in a basketball stadium in the stands
My friend and I at a Georgetown basketball game that was free for all students!

As college students, all of our bank accounts are likely on life support, and that’s why finding free stuff is a life-saver. For starters, there are tons of ways to get free (or nearly free) items from your fellow Hoyas — there are GroupMes for free food left over from events, furniture and textbooks people are giving away, and even free tickets for Georgetown sporting events. Also, attend events hosted by the Georgetown Programming Board like movie nights, ice cream socials and festivals held on Copley Lawn for free food, entertainment and fun! A highlight of this semester was when an event had like, 5 leftover Chipotle burritos, and I was the hero of my floor for grabbing them and bringing them to the common room. Free food isn’t just good for your bank account — it will make you lifelong friends.

Get Creative With Your Meal Plan

As a girl who proudly has tummy issues, I was worried about eating in college. And while Leo’s doesn’t exactly have a Michelin star, I’ve found ways to have a wide variety in my diet by using my meal plan all across campus. There are tons of hidden spots and options on campus that it feels like people don’t know about, so use those Meal Exchanges and debit dollars! My personal favorites are the fruit and cornbread from Epi’s, a meatball sub from Royal Jacket, salads from Crop-Chop, blueberry muffins from Whisk, a bacon, egg and cheese from Einstein’s in Car Barn, and Leo’s mashed potatoes (all on swipes or exchanges!) 

Hillary Clinton on a podium in Gaston Hall
Sec. Hillary Clinton speaking in Gaston Hall!

Attend Events

This is such an obvious Georgetown thing, but it shocks me how many people don’t take advantage of how many incredibly accomplished people come speak and attend events on our campus every single day. In one semester alone, I’ve seen Hillary Clinton, Rep. Al Green, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenskka, Christianne Amanpour, Rep. Maxwell Frost, Rep. Zooey Zephyr, Rep. Mauree Turner, and tons of other equally accomplished people. Not only have I gotten to watch these people speak, but I’ve also had the chance to individually speak with many of them, which has been such a great opportunity and so inspiring. You can find out about these events by checking your email and keeping up to date with organizations like GU Politics, GU College Democrats, and the Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, to name a few. Feel free to also check Georgetown’s official socials, which have their stories updated every week with exciting events!

Explore DC

A young woman in front of the U.S. Capitol on a cloudy day
In front of the U.S. Capitol for a College Dems lobbying day! (Complete with a red tongue from my gum)

Everyone is always like “Georgetown bubble this, Georgetown bubble that,” but one thing I’m actually really proud of from last semester is that I feel like I got out into DC a lot. I can’t express how important it is to actually explore the city we’re in — it’s really fun and honestly relaxing to get out of the school environment. Some of my favorite DC activities have been getting dinner with friends in Chinatown before a basketball game at Capital One, exploring Capitol Hill on a College Democrats lobbying trip, going to Blagden Alley with one of my classes (shoutout Race and Class in D.C.!), seeing the Broadway play POTUS at Arena Stage, and even just biking to DuPont Circle for a fun night with friends. We all chose to go to college in a city, so actually take advantage of it! I, however, don’t recommend falling down the escalator of the Columbia Heights Best Buy and getting a bruise that lasts for two months (not that I know anything about that).

‘Do It For The Plot’

My roommate put these words on a sign in our room, and this semester, I did lots of things for the plot. For those not on TikTok, doing things for the plot simply means doing something because it’ll be a fun story or could have interesting consequences. Most of the time, this just means saying yes. I’ve found myself doing things for the plot at Georgetown, and they nearly always work out. For instance, applying to be on the board of the Bachelor Appreciation Club for Hoyas (BACH), riding bikes across DC with friends, or even just going on a midnight run to Wawa are things I’ve done for the plot — and some of my best memories at Georgetown.This past semester I have made so many friends and some of my best memories by saying yes, going with the flow, and seeing where life takes me.

My first semester on the Hilltop certainly took me on some unexpected adventures. Despite being uncomfortable, scared and confused at times, not only have I survived the first half of my freshman year, but I actually think that I did pretty well. Adjusting to college, at Georgetown or literally anywhere else, is tough. However, difficult things often become the most rewarding. Just because I made it through my first semester doesn’t mean I’ve got everything (or really anything) figured out just yet. Lucky for both of us, you’re stuck with me here at Georgetown Stories for another seven semesters, so stay tuned!