by Nicco Gentile
It has been said that college is the best four years of your life. As students, we are told to make the best of them; we're told to have fun, learn, and make lasting friendships. The first year must be the most important. It practically determines how the three years after it will play out.
Niagara is one of the smaller campuses in the area, in the country even, but students are still able to make their time here the best possible.
What is freshman year without activities? Niagara's Campus Programming Board takes care of all students at NU, but especially the freshmen.
It all started with freshman orientation during the summer months. CPB really got the year going with the fall orientation for freshman students. The NU roof photo, a walk to the gorge filled with surprises and some good food was followed by an outdoor glow party. For freshman students it was a chance to meet the other students and feel comfortable on campus.
The fun didn't stop after fall orientation. "Late Nite Niagara" took over the spotlight for Friday nights on campus. Activities such as "Open Mic night," as well as a series of performances by magicians, comedians and improv acts made Niagara the place to be on Friday nights. It all culminated with the spring concert that featured a country performance by Rodney Atkins at historic Lewiston's Artpark.
Besides the on-campus activities, CPB also planned a series of trips to see the Buffalo Bandits and the Buffalo Sabres in action at the First Niagara Center, as well as trips to Toronto to see the Raptors and Blue Jays.
Another feature of life on campus here at Niagara is Clet Dining Hall, where the most popular topic of conversation is the food. Clet "fine dining," as it's known, has its good days, but also includes those days where the food leaves students wondering what they just consumed. I guess you can say that it's all part of the experience.
The first year has been all fun and games, except for the weather. Frustration is the best way to describe the past winter season, which continued to linger in the month of April. Students made the best of the cold and snow, as several messages were carved out in the snow over in O'Shea quad, including "#ThomasBurns," which easily became a highlight of the spring semester.
The winter weather became extreme enough for classes to be canceled two days in a row. In order to thank Mr. Burns, who made the announcement, NU students embarked on a "tweeting" frenzy. In fact, there were so many tweets including "#ThomasBurns" that it was trending worldwide on Twitter.
We're here to make memories that will last a lifetime. Please excuse the Hallmark-ish sound of that, because it's not far from the truth. So in testament of that, I asked several freshmen to use one word that summed up their first year at Niagara:
"Life-changing. I know that's two words, but nothing better describes my first year than that," answered Michael Burke, a business management major.
"It's hard to just use one word, but I think 'awesome' describes it pretty well," responded Andrew Parsnick.
Emily Baumgarden, a student of Niagara's renowned nursing program, called her first year entertaining. "There was never a dull moment while living in the dorms," she said.
"Different, it was a big change!" said Brandon Bueme, an O'Shea resident.
Tre Hunter described his first year as "Unpredictable. I never knew what was going to happen next, and I still don't, which makes me really excited for next year."
After asking a few more freshmen the same question, I got the feeling that all of them were still excited about school and the coming years - which isn't a surprise considering how much fun everyone seems to be having here on and off campus. It's safe to say that first year students at NU have made the most of their first two semesters.
Moving away from home for the first time can be tough on students, but it doesn't seem to be affecting the Class of 2017. We've already selected our classes for the fall semester and are arguably just as excited for our second year as we were for our first.