Virginia Tech Freshman Guide
Hey Hokies! I know you’re all super excited about your first year in Blacksburg but maybe you’re a bit nervous and don’t quite know what’s what just yet. Well luckily for you I am a rising sophomore with way too much time on my hands so I constructed this little guide to hopefully help you guys feel better about life at Tech.
I’m going to break this into sections for you:
· Dorm life
· Football games
· Getting involved
· Campus life
So I know the first thing you’re worried about is where you’ll be living. Unfortunately, the new cadet dorm won’t be finished in time for this semester so that means we have a housing shortage on campus. They are offering $2,000 to all upperclassmen to move off campus just so they’ll have more room for you guys! This means that some of you might be tripled or even placed in a lounge converted into a room (that especially sucks because I don’t think you’ll have a sink then).
My freshman year I lived in Lee hall which I would say is a pretty average. Some are better (like the AJ’s) and some are worse (like Slusher). You’ll each be given a closet, dresser, desk, desk chair, bed, and you’ll have one sink. The sink and closets pretty much take up an entire wall so you essentially have 3 walls to work from. I recommend both of you at least half lofting your beds (I full lofted mine and my roommate half lofted because she’s scared of heights). This will give you more floor space and open up the room in general. Here’s what my room looked like back in August before we fully decorated and it became a total disaster.
As for roommates my number one tip is to be honest with each other. My roommate and I have a ‘no shit’ policy meaning that we’re both extremely honest with each other about any issues that might come up. I regularly yell at her to take out her trash and she yells at me to clean up under the sink. We are the only roommates I know that haven’t gotten in some weird passive aggressive fight because we stick to being straight up with each other. We’re rooming together this year too so clearly it works.
The building itself won’t be bad either. In Lee the floors are separated by gender but honestly living on a co-ed floor won’t be an issue either. I have seen boys walking to the bathroom in just their towels and they have seen me doing the same. Think back to those first couple of days in 7th grade when you had to change for gym for the first time. Everyone was super self-conscious and you changed in a bathroom stall so no one would know that you’re on your period. Now think about the last day senior year when girls strutted around the locker room in nothing but thongs and it wasn’t weird at all. That’s what walking to the bathroom to take a shower will be like. It’ll be weird at first but you’ll turn into that thong wearing senior in no time I promise.
Protip: They don’t clean the bathrooms on the weekends so if it’s Sunday night wait until tomorrow to take that shower. Trust me.
You’re RA is not some scary person out to get you! They’re actually the nicest people in your building and if you’re cool to them they’ll be cool to you. If something is bothering you in the building (roommate issues, gross bathrooms, loud neighbors, broken elevator, etc.) they are the people to talk to. Contrary to popular belief they’re not out to get you either. As long as you’re not disturbing everyone around you and you’re not a danger to yourself or people around you they most likely won’t write you up for being drunk. It’s only when they see alcohol with their own eyes or you’re throwing up all over the place that they HAVE to step in. I’ve gotten an RA to let me into my room at 3am while I was visibly wasted and my roommate and friends waited in the bathroom for the all clear and they didn’t care. Be responsible, respectful, and coherent and they won’t write you up.
Protip: If an RA hears you throwing up in the bathroom they HAVE to call an ambulance by law so if you have a little stomach bug (or knocked back one too many drinks) your sink is your best friend.
I’m going to write this section as if I was writing to my past self. I knew how to play football and I regularly watched NFL games (fly Eagles fly!) but I didn’t know people got so excited over college sports (I’m from the north I’m sorry!). So here is your basic northern girl’s guide to Beamerball.
First off this man,
Frank Beamer, is the most winningest active coach in college football and if you don’t love him now you will by the end of the season. Hokie football is regularly referred to as Beamerball because of his unique coaching style. Personally, I love him most for the creation of the Fantastic Frank, but that’s a story for the food section.
Our quarterback is Michael Brewer
He threw the most interceptions of any quarterback in all of college football last season but he did beat Ohio State and he kind of looks like Zac Efron so people have varying opinions about him. Apparently we just got a freshman that will be a lot better than him so fingers crossed!
Your first game is going to be a bit insane because we were the only team to beat Ohio State last season and you guessed it, we’re playing them first! Plus Sands is giving us the next day off so if nothing else be excited over that!!
Now for Lane Stadium… The side with the scoreboard is the North end zone aka the student section. If you’re in the student section (which you want to be) expect to never sit down. People have shirts that say “you can sit when you graduate” and they mean it. This is the section that’s always on TV and is the representation of our school. If you’re not going batshit crazy then are you really a student here? In front of the students in this end zone is the Marching Virginians. They have set songs for each situation on the field and you will know all of them by heart by the end of the season. South end zone is home to the cadets and their marching band (yes we have 2 marching bands). When we score they’ll do pushups on the hands of other cadets. They get to wear fancy uniforms and is probably the most fun they have all year to be honest. You will love the cadets.
If all you care about is being a good spectator, all you need to know is jump for Enter Sandman, don’t sit, yell like crazy whenever the other team has the ball, shake your keys on “key plays” (when the other team is on 3rd down), every 1st down and touch down we get you will chant “H-O-K-I-E-S Hokies!!”, Skipper (the cannon) will be fired every time we get a field goal or touch down (don’t be scared it’s fun), and if you hear “LET’S GO!” you respond by screaming “HOKIES!” at the top of your lungs. Also we love horses on treadmills. Don’t ask just cheer.
Apparently they don’t do a good job at teaching you guys about this stuff. Basically the bigger your plan is the more money you have to spend throughout the semester. Everything is bought using that money. It is not a swipes per week system. If you buy steak 24/7 you’re going to run out of money pretty dang quick but if you live off of nothing but coffee you’ll have extra money left over at the end of the semester. Everything is 50% off with the meal plan so that $10 steak will only take $5 off of your meal plan. Every dining hall has these little cards that tells you how much money you should have left by what date so you can tell if you’re on track or if you should lay off the sushi for a couple weeks. Try your hardest to stick by them. I get the smallest meal plan because you can always add more at the end if you need it.
I’m going to break down all of your food options by dining hall here so this section may be a bit long.
it’s not the fanciest looking dining hall it still has amazing food. Here you
have stands for smoothies, sandwiches, locally grown organic food (closed on
the weekend), Chicken and mac and cheese, pasta, Chinese food, burgers, Mexican
food, “cheesesteaks” (I use the term very loosely), sweets, and a salad bar.
Personal favorites: Fantastic Franks from Frank’s Deli, Buffalo chicken sandwiches from Flips, and of course chicken parm from the pasta place (this is a special and is only offered every other Wednesday and Friday. People actually go nuts for it I once waited a half hour for it and I have zero regrets).
Warnings: I’m from South Jersey and let me tell you that “Philly style steak sandwich” is NOT a cheesesteak. If any variation of a cheesesteak has the word “Philly” before it do yourself a favor and don’t get it. I could go on an entire rant about how bad this “cheesesteak” was but let’s just leave it at I almost threw up and I became very homesick and craved the real thing for 3 months until I finally went home and got a real cheesesteak. No one should try it but if you’re from the Delaware Valley I’m sorry but you can kiss cheesesteaks and Wawa goodbye for as long as you’re in town.
Attached to Owens is Hokie Grill. There’s not much to say about this place. There’s a Chick Fil A, bbq place, Pizza Hut, and Dunkin Doughnuts. Protip: doughnuts are only 49 cents on the meal plan.
West End was the world’s first pay for what you get dining hall in the world and is what earned us the #1 spot in food. Here you can get burgers, sandwiches, wraps, steak and lobster, salads, sweets, smoothies, pizza and pasta.
Personal favorites: Steak from JP’s, chicken Cesar wrap from Wrap World (best bargain on campus if you ask me), hot wings from the Fighting Gobbler, and the Cajun cream sauce special at the pasta place.
Warnings: Super crowded from 5:30-7pm. Go early or late if you don’t want to wait ages for your food.
This is the only all you can eat dining hall on campus. Because of that it’s a bit more on the pricier side. Don’t go here unless you’re really going to get your money’s worth. Definitely go here if it’s a themed day (CHOCOLATE DAY IS A REAL THING AND IT’S GLORIOUS) and be sure to stop by at least once for Sunday brunch (which lasts until 3pm).
Personal favorites: Everything on chocolate day, eggs benedict on Sunday brunches at the Chinese place.
Warnings: This is probably the worst dining hall on campus which means it has pretty good food. If this is your worst food than you are in the right place my friend.
Located on the first floor of D2 is Dx. Basically take a crappier version of Wawa and shove it into a hallway and make all the customers drunk and you’ll have Dx. Since it is the only food option on campus after midnight (it closes at 2am) it is a popular place to go after a night out. You will find yourself stumbling through here at one point.
Personal favorites: Corndog nuggets and the butterscotch pudding with Heath bar crumbles.
Warnings: The sushi is gross and a lot of people get sick from the food here (I never have so I don’t know what their problem is). Basically this is what normal schools have as their actual food and this is your crappy late night place so be happy.
This whole building is basically all dining halls. Deet’s is your typical little coffee shop. They have ice cream, coffee, baked goods, and even paninis. It’s open until midnight and there are lots of chairs so I usually find myself there late at night working on group projects with people.
Personal Favorites: Blacksburg sunset (get lemonade for sour, sprite for sweeter) and the southwest chicken panini.
Warnings: No outlets for your computer so come charged up if you plan on staying awhile.
Although mainly the student center Squires still houses Burger 37 and ABP. It’s all a bit pricier but it’s on the meal plan and you won’t find a better burger or milkshake on campus.
Personal favorites: B7 burger and the chipotle mayo for the fries at Burger 37, free refills of lemonade at ABP.
Warnings: Super crowded most of the time but worth it.
The only dining hall on the academic side of campus! It’s closed on the weekends but here you can get bagels, convenient store stuff, coffee, crepes (crepe guy is super attractive), sushi, hibachi, salads, Qdoba, southern fare, steak and fish, smoothies, and pizza. Check out the cadet room on the first floor it’s one of my favorite places to study.
Personal Favorites: Beef at the hibachi place (only at lunch), custom salad at the salad place, taco salads at Qdoba, and salmon from Fire Grill.
Warnings: closed on the weekends and always packed between classes.
Now the part you all hate: actual learning. This is more going to be little tips and tricks than anything since I don’t know your major. I am majoring in Mechanical engineering with a minor in Biomedical engineering so if you happen to be doing one of those feel free to ask me about more specific questions!
Please don’t be afraid to go to office hours! Your teacher will help you I promise and sometimes they’ll even give you little tips or benefits that won’t be offered to other students. I’ve gotten extensions, extra credit, news before everyone else, and candy just from dropping by my teacher’s offices. Trust me it’s worth it and a whole lot better than failing and feeling alone.
Do your work as soon as you can. Life happens and you will have unexpected events come up that you didn’t plan for. Would you rather fall to just 4 days ahead of schedule and go out and play bumper soccer with your friends or stay up until 3am doing that chem lab you haven’t looked at since lab day? You will have so much more fun (and sleep!) by staying on top of your work.
Plan out your next semester schedule early. Look up your proposed degree path and see what you should take in the spring. Go to Hokie Spa and sift through the timetable of classes for the spring until you’ve found that perfect schedule and request those classes. When you don’t get any of the classes you requested, use coursepickle to tell you when the classes you want are open and get your perfect schedule. Protip: schedule free time for 8am and never be scheduled an 8am ever again!
This one is the most important if you ask me. Classes are one thing but being a part of the Hokie nation is another. Every year in September we have this thing called Gobblerfest which is basically this event where almost every club on campus comes out to the drillfield and tells you information about their club. This is a great time to explore your interests and find where you belong at school. Thanks to Gobblerfest I’m now a sister of a sorority, on a design team, public relations officer of the Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Society, and vice president of Engineering World Health (and all of this in one year!). I met some of my best friends from these clubs. If nothing else you’ll get tons of free things at Gobblerfest (all of the sunglasses I own are from this event) so make sure you go and check out clubs!
However, clubs aren’t the only way to get involved. In the spring Tech has The Big Event, the largest collegiate Relay for Life in the world, the 3.2 for 32, and so much more. Get a group of friends together and spend you weekends helping people and having fun. You don’t have to commit to a club, just one day. It’s a lot of fun and I promise you you’ll come out feeling like you were really a part of something bigger than yourself.
As a freshman you’re guaranteed campus housing. But what is campus like? Are there traditions I’m not aware of? Are there shortcuts to places I’m not aware of? Don’t worry! I’ll break it all down for you here!
By this point you probably have seen the drillfield and know the two distinct features in front of Burruss and Torg Bridge.
The pylons each represent Virginia Tech’s principles. In the center sits a cenotaph, DO NOT TOUCH THIS!!! The cenotaph is there representing all of the Hokies who have received a purple heart. We don’t touch it as a sign of respect to them. If you see someone touching it (or using it like a coffee table like I once saw) kindly tell that person why we don’t touch it. Hokie respect people.
This is the April 16th memorial. After the shooting that took place on April 16th, 2007 a group of students were sitting on the drillfield wondering how they could honor their fallen Hokies. They decided to go to the quarry and take 32 Hokie stones (one for each live lost) and place them in a semicircle in front of Burruss. These makeshift stones were eventually given to the families of the victims and were replaced with today’s Hokie stones (which have each of their names engraved into them). Every April 16th a memorial service is held here and cadets guard each stone with pride. It is easily the prettiest place on campus during that week.
The next tradition occurs on the first snowfall of every year. The cadets vs. civilians snowball fight happens on the drillfield and is easily the most epic snowball fight you’ll ever be a part of. Last year I saw people with lab googles, Captain America shields, American flags, and even the Hokiebird took part in it! Keep a look out on Facebook when it snows because that’s where the date and time will be announced.
Each and every class at Virginia Tech creates their own class rings. After the rings are given out there is a huge dance to celebrate it. It’s kind of like the college version of prom except you’ll actually have fun at this dance.
Similarly, the Military Ball takes place every year. Cadets HAVE to bring a date so get out there and find a cadet to dance the night away with!
So now you know some of the traditions on campus but how do you get around easily? Well you can’t go wrong with walking. If you have a crazy schedule like me and you need to go to Litton Reaves to Randolf in 15mins (good planning on my part I know) you might want to invest in a nice bike. Make sure you register it! It’s free and it will stop you from getting a ticket with VT parking services or will help VTPD track down your bike if something happens to it. If bikes aren’t your style I’ve seen people on skateboards, longboards, scooters, unicycles, tricycles, you name it. If you plan on bringing your car make sure you get a parking pass and be careful where you park! Getting a parking ticket is on the Hokie bucket list because it happens so often. When in doubt don’t park there.
If you need to go off campus Blacksburg Transit is your best friend. Download the BT4U app to see which bus will take you where and at what time. Below is a list of places I went to often and which bus will take you there. I know it’s scary at first. (Note: there are 2 Krogers in Blacksburg. “Ghetto” refers to the smaller, older one next to the math empo; “Gucci’ refers to the bigger, newer one on South Main (no I didn’t make these nicknames up.))
University Mall- Ghetto Kroger, Math Empo, the “mall” (like 4 stores and the empo lol), Panera Bread, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, and Macado’s.
University Boulevard- Literally all the same places as U Mall you might just have to walk like 3 feet extra.
South Main- Gucci Kroger, Cookout, Our Daily Bread, and downtown (if you’re super lazy).
Two Town Trolley- CHRISTIANSBURG, Walmart, the hospital (only on week days), the Christiansburg mall (aka the closest thing to civilization you’re going to get down here), and the movies.
I hope this whole thing helped someone out there and I can’t wait to see you all in Blacksburg in just a couple weeks!