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Fresh Perspective: Food and friendly faces made this freshman's first week in Athens memorable

Fresh Perspective: Food and friendly faces made this freshman's first week in Athens memorable

Originally published in The Post.

Kris Perez, a freshman at Ohio University, takes in his perspective of surviving and exploring the new campus he calls home

When I first arrived on the cobblestone bricks of Ohio University last week, I was nervous. As a freshman, I was terrified of the shift from high school to college course work. I was worried about time management and being away from friends and family. Many of these fears rushed through my mind as I made the trek from my car to my dorm on West Green.

At first glance, I was a bit worried about the medium-sized campus as a whole. I kept thinking about the possibility of getting lost or even arriving late to a professor’s lecture. I soon realized after living here for a week, you tend to learn where to go relatively quickly.

The fears I had when I first arrived melted away and were replaced by feelings of acceptance due to the incredibly polite faculty and students who welcomed me as I first stepped foot on campus. I genuinely believed Athens could soon become my second home.

My first day on campus consisted of getting acquainted with the beautiful surroundings I heard so much about from alums and friends. While walking through College Green, I became captivated by the nature and serene setting surrounding me. OU’s infamous squirrels scurried throughout campus, not minding anyone or anything that got in their way. Students sat on benches stationed all throughout the vibrant grassy areas. A random student was playing guitar, and people were eating lunch with friends. The one thing I noticed was the fact that everyone I had seen had a smile on their faces. Everyone was just trying to enjoy the sunny day on campus the weekend before classes started.

College Green captivated me with its tranquility and lively color, but my thoughts immediately shifted once I came to Emeriti Park. The park isn’t anything extravagant, but the beauty of the pond and the serenity at night helped me to relax — that will come in handy when I need a break. I was beginning to find that OU was full of places to explore. Even the minor things such as the park and College Green were enough to make me excited to spend the next four years here.

There’s just something about this town that’s so welcoming. I don’t know if it's just the way people are in this region, but back in the suburb of Pickerington, Ohio you don’t get much of what I’ve experienced down here. Regardless of where I’ve been on campus, I’ve never been treated in a way which made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. That is something that’s important to me and a lot of other students who attend universities away from home.

The faculty members are eager to connect with their students and the upperclassmen ensure the freshmen that the next four years will be some of the greatest years of their lives. I enjoyed how welcoming the professors were the first week. Yes, we did get readings and assignments, but on top of that, the professors ensured every student they were there to help.

When I was going on college visits and applying to schools, I was looking at a few factors: The school’s journalism program (I am a journalism major), the size of the campus and how far the school was from home. After eight college applications and a tiring (not to mention stressful) senior year, I decided to join Ohio University’s Class of 2019.

Athens has a delectable selection to choose from, which may make or break my Freshman 15.

My favorite coffee shop at the moment is probably Brenen’s for its Milky Way coffee. You can’t go wrong with a little caramel, chocolate and caffeine in the morning before a long, boring lecture. Another thing I absolutely love about Brenen’s is the atmosphere. It’s a place you can go to and relax whether you’re drinking coffee or not. It’s a meeting hub where you can hangout with friends or just talk. The delicious coffee and food is just an added plus.

Coffee is a huge part of being a college student (academics, too), but so is food. Feeling like eating some quick Mexican food but not really feeling Chipotle? Two words: Burrito Buggy. It’s an Athens must, so I’ve been told. The first time I experienced Burrito Buggy I was a bit biased, but the minute I took a bite into a burrito the size of my head, there was no going back. The burrito was bursting at the seams with almost every selection known to man: Beef, chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese and whatever else they had on the menu. I was feeling adventurous that day.

Another local place I tried the day I arrived on campus was Kiser’s Barbeque on East State Street (there's also a Court Street location). Walking into the tiny restaurant on the inside of a mall, I expected nothing but a normal barbecue sandwich with nothing to set it apart from the others, but I was so wrong. I ordered a brisket sandwich drenched in the signature “Sweet Red” sauce that made it a meal to remember.

The school constantly boasts about having more than 400 student organizations, but visiting College Green during the Involvement Fair with a flood of almost every organization was surreal. It was difficult to get through the sea of freshmen, but I was glad I was able to explore what I could become a part of for the next four years. With so many organizations it’s almost impossible for you not to get involved. There’s a Pin It Club (for Pinterest lovers), a Badminton Club and even an EDM Appreciation Club. Moral of the story: If you aren’t involved, get involved.

My week was at times overwhelming, but being at a university where there are so many ways to get help I knew I would be just fine.

OU has embraced me with open arms. The cobblestone bricks have become my home after just one week, and I can now say I bleed green and white. I am a Bobcat now, and I am certainly happy I made the decision to attend the Harvard on the Hocking.

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