Welcome to Brandeis, class of 2026! Congratulations on finishing high school amid the pandemic and joining us here on campus. This board hopes that your first few weeks have been pleasant and would like to provide some tips and tricks for surviving and thriving at this special university.

Food: Firstly, make a budget for your points! Between all of the retail dining on campus, it is incredibly easy to fly through them. There are approximately 16 weeks left in the semester; divide the number of points you have by that, and try not to spend more than that in a week. You’ll want to make sure that you have enough left over for coffee and Hoot Market runs come finals week. Clubs often provide free food at their events. Not only can you get free food, you might just find a new hobby! Look for posters advertising them on campus and on social media. Speaking of the Hoot Market, mind the price gouging. Items there are far more expensive than they would be at a normal grocery store. As for the local grocers, Market Basket is generally less expensive than Hannaford, albeit a bit further from campus. Public Safety generally  runs shuttles  to both throughout the week — find the most up-to-date information on the @essbranvan Instagram page. 

Self-care: Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — adjusting to college is tough. With significantly less time spent in class than in high school, you need to be much more disciplined about working independently while also experiencing a new level of independence. It will take time and focus. Be mindful of balancing socializing with homework and studying. Specifically, if you are going to the library to hang out with your friends, that is not really studying. Make time to have solitary study time built into your schedule to get work done. Although the heat and humidity may feel never ending right now, the temperatures will drop quickly. You will long for these months: take advantage of the outdoors now! Stroll through campus and enjoy the parks of Waltham and Boston. Getting off campus, even just for an afternoon, can be a great way to de-stress.  

Having Fun: It is important to maintain a good work-life balance. Whenever you have the chance, bring your friends and go somewhere you have not been before. From Thursday to Sunday, the University has buses running between Waltham, Boston, and Cambridge. This is a great resource if you want to go to a sports game, go shopping, have food, or walk in one of the beautiful parks in Boston. If you want to go into the city during the week, the commuter rail located just off campus will also take you into Boston. It is free this month if you have a valid Charlie Card, so take advantage of it! If the big city isn’t for you, there are many parks in or near Waltham that are beautiful. Riverwalk Park by the Charles River is a great walk on a crisp fall day. Cedarwood Playground behind Massell Quad has swings and a small playscape. Prospect Hill Park is a great place to see a sunrise with a view to the Boston skyline. If you are willing to go a bit further, Walden Pond is also not far from Brandeis.

Saving Money: A part of being a college student is finding good deals when you can. Brandeis’ Student Service Bureau maintains a list of student discounts. And, your student ID may get you a student discount at your favorite shops off campus, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Finally, it’s okay if you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you don’t know what you’re doing. Chances are, most people around you, and especially other first-years are feeling the same.

P.S. Please don’t stop in the middle of the walking path during rush hour between classes.

—Editor’s note: Editor Jack Yuanwei Cheng is employed by the Escort Safety Service. He did not edit the portion of this editorial pertaining to the BranVan.