Sharing embarrassing first year stories

Photo by Jamie Howell

As a Freshman, nothing makes you feel more comfortable and reassured at FASET or other orientation meetings than asking upperclassmen about their first-year and how they lived it. I’m not talking about how well they did in their classes, how many friends they made their first day or how cool their fraternity’s initiation process was. The truly good stories are those that were lived with uneasiness and embarrassment. While successes and achievements can be inspiring, the tales of mistakes are often more instructive and always provide a good laugh. Here are some embarrassing first year experiences that sophomores, juniors and seniors agreed to share, though anonymously.

A fourth-year ME major from India had an incredibly uncomfortable first day in Atlanta.

He put it very mildly: “I came a little unprepared: I landed at the airport by myself with three pieces of luggage, no map or mobile internet and little or no information about check-in.”

He then proceeded to ask around for directions to the campus, and luckily for him, local Atlantans’ cordiality helped him out. But after getting off the MARTA at North Avenue, he realized his misfortunes had just begun.

“Loaded like a mule, I came out to the scorching sunlight. It was mid-August, around two o’clock and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Needless to say I started sweating within a minute.”

Oblivious of the check-in instructions, he didn’t get his keys at the ECHO office and couldn’t settle down. Instead, he dragged his luggage half across campus all the way to Clough Undergraduate Center, where International check-in takes place the week before classes.

“I climbed Freshman Hill under the burning sun and I finally showed up in front of the OIE staff exhausted and dripping with sweat: it was a pretty embarrassing scene.”

Fortunately during move-in week campus swarms of helpful assistants, and he was taken care of without hesitation.

Something a lot of us have experienced as Freshmen is locking ourselves out of our dorm room, but this second-year EE major has definitely had it worse than all of us.

“It was my fourth day on campus and I was living in Smith. That morning I woke up early and went for a shower: I left my clothes in the room, I wrapped up in my towel and locked the door behind me.”

Worried about his shower (in Smith, fighting for a shower can be a real challenge), he forgot his keys. He had just finished showering when the realization hit him. He ran back to the room, but his roommate had already left for classes.

“I had no phone to contact Maintenance, no clothes to wear and, most importantly, I had class in an hour! I felt so embarrassed as I started knocking on every door of the hall to find help, even more so when somebody finally answered and I had to explain the whole thing.”

After a good laugh, he was given some clothes and walked to ECHO where he could sort it all out.

A fourth-year EE major had a similarly drenching experience. He lived in Smith and like every honest East Campus freshman he used to climb his way up Freshman Hill to get to class.

“It was a morning of my second week of class and it was raining cats and dogs.”

Knowledgeable about Atlantan Summer rainstorms which give rapidly way to a hot sun, he dressed lightly.

“I put on a shirt and flip flops. Big mistake! Bobby Dodd Way was flooded with streaming water! But it was too late to turn back and change — I would have missed class! Although I loathed the freezing sensation that tormented my feet in the cold water, I kept going up.”

Around him were other students who struggled with the water flow, but they all had closed shoes.

“Every now and then I got puzzled looks which meant something like ‘What is that weirdo doing in flip flops?’. I was already glad that the hill was coming to an end, when all of a sudden I slipped on the wet asphalt and I fell butt to the ground, while my flip flops jumped up in the air and fell a few feet downhill. It was all so fast I couldn’t do anything about it, but as soon as I realized what had happened my face reddened, as I felt twenty-plus eyes looking at me and people snickering. Forcefully trying to keep a straight face, I stood up barefoot, picked up my flip flops and headed to class, with my head low and my butt wet and hurting — quite an embarrassing experience.”

For CS students Summer internships are a big opportunity to get some hands-on experience and to start building a rich resume. Some, the ‘brave and bold’, apply as soon as their Freshman year to big companies like Google, Uber, Facebook and Microsoft. There’s only one scary thing that makes those names seem far away from our reach: interviews.

“I applied for as many as 6 programs in a very short period of time — the applications were fairly straight-forward. Then came the interviews.”

He prepared properly for the big companies he was truly interested in, such as Uber, looking up the company’s history and reviewing certain programming languages beforehand.  Smaller businesses, though, his plan B’s, received much less attention. The result was that a couple of interviews were ridiculous, almost comical.

“There was this one time I had an interview with a software engineering company. Literally, all I knew about it was the name (barely) and that they needed programmers. He met with the two interviewers and everything was cool as they went through his resume and his skills. Then they switched to particular questions about the job.

“When I was asked: ‘So what are you looking for in our company?’ and ‘What is it about our business that interests you?’, I had no reasonable response to give them: I didn’t know what they did!”

With a guilty smile he said, “Well I know you’re looking for programmers, and I like programming”. An embarrassing silence followed. Then one of the interviewers caught the hint and with a knowing smile said, “You haven’t looked at the company at all, have you?” to which he answered honestly. After that, the conversation was moved on to different topics.

He likes to point out: “Funny thing, I still got the job offer I wanted from them, but ended up refusing it for an internship in a bigger company.”

Whether you’ve been ambushed by Atlanta’s unpredictable weather (lesson learned, always carry an umbrella), caught in an unfortunate interview or experiencing the dreaded sensation of realizing that you’ve locked yourself out of your room after a shower, most of us can bring to mind some sort of embarrassing memory from our earliest years of college life.