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Column: The first day is the worst day

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The first day of school is uniquely exciting for students and teachers alike. Even though we college students have already been through many first days of school, countless of us still find ourselves looking forward to that first day of the school year at the UA.

But as those returning to UA may have already figured out, that first day of school isn’t all that pleasant. 

For everyone living off-campus, the commute to UA is highly congested on the first day. Students don’t want to miss classes and in many cases they aren’t permitted to do so. Traffic starts to become heavier as you get closer to campus, and parking garages and bike racks fill up quickly. These obstacles can cause tardiness, which won’t leave a great first impression on your new teachers. 

That’s why the first day of school brings with it possibly the biggest crowds you’ll ever see on campus. At every passing interval, the sidewalks and streets are filled with people changing classes and traveling in every direction. People are bound to get in each other’s way and make the journey to unfamiliar buildings even more annoying and stressful. 

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The crowds persist at the student union, campus’s most popular destination for food and school supplies. Lines for the restaurants are extremely long, meaning the wait time for your meal is extra long. Meanwhile, students grabbing textbooks and UA gear at the bookstore are stepping all over each other trying to get to what they need. It takes extra coordination to navigate those awful first-day crowds.

Arguably the most stressful part off college are the classes themselves, and they present their own horrors on the first day. The new classrooms and learning environments can be intimidating, especially for those who are completely new to UA. New professors can be scary too—there’s no way to know for sure what they will be like in advance, and strict teachers may come off as mean upon initially meeting. Such an encounter could really kill some students’ positivity and optimism. 

On the first day, many teachers go over the syllabus or otherwise orient their students about how their class runs. From making mental notes of important dates and exams to diving right into brand-new material, the first day can leave students feeling highly stressed about the semester to come. All the new information comes at once, and it’s tough to keep track and stay on top of everything.

I definitely find myself negatively affected by all of these things on the first day of school. But even with all these stressors, UA provides many elements to make students feel at-home and happy as the year begins. From the beautiful campus and the convenience of food and shopping on campus, to the excellent education and support system that exists for pretty much any class and so much more, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Nothing that makes the first day of school bad is unique to UA by any means. Those things are components of the first day that occur on virtually every college campus. Sure, that first day may be rough, but all the good things about the UA make it worth the day’s suffering. With time, we’ll be free to enjoy normal, more acclimated days at the UA.

But for now, we’ll just have to suffer and survive that first day together.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (10/22)
742 5 0.7%
Total (8/2)
42,506 639 1.5%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated October 22, 2021