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The Freshman 15: The do's and don'ts of college life 

Starting college in Atlanta is exciting but also daunting. What if you flunk out of school? What if you don’t make friends? What are you going to do now that your old pot connection is hundreds of miles away? We can't guarantee that everyone won't hate you, but we can counsel you on how not to be a complete loser in college. What does your student adviser know anyway if he never got a real job after graduation? You'll inevitably make mistakes, but don't say we didn’t warn you.
Chris Mihal
You know what happens when you invite a bunch of people to a party who have little in common and less to say to each other? At best, it's uncomfortable. At worst, the evening ends with a fight and broken furniture and someone leaves in an ambulance. This is also what happens to your body when you're not careful about mixing drinks and/or drugs. Stick with clear or brown liquor all night; mixing them is gross, tacky and a fast way to find yourself hugging a toilet. MDMA is way better if you're just drinking water. Mixing coke with heroin — or any form of speedballing — is the worst idea ever, unless your goal is to die. And if someone is actually sick and/or unresponsive, for the love of God, you need to CALL 911. Oh, and take those vitamins your parents sent you. They actually help.
Chris Mihal
Parents can be so annoying: "Don't have sex," "Don’t get her pregnant," "Don't be gay, you devil child." Thankfully, you won't have to listen to their incessant nagging now that you're on your own and free to screw whomever you please. College is the ideal time to experiment with your sexuality — everyone's on the same slutty page and all your bedroom mistakes will be absolved come graduation. But one thing that's tough to shake off is crabs. And gonorrhea. And chlamydia. Atlanta has many places to get tested for HIV and STDs on the cheap with insurance or for free, including Planned Parenthood (75 Piedmont Ave., Suite 800), AID Atlanta (1605 Peachtree St.) and your school clinic. Check out HIVTest.org for a comprehensive list. Having a bisexual phase is forgivable; knowingly infecting a partner with a disease is not.
Chris Mihal
You probably think you're in love. But, trust us, the long-distance thing almost never works out. So be nice and gentle about it and just tell him or her that it's not the right time for you (because it really, really isn't) and then go out and fuck someone else and forget about it. You're going to meet more people and find out lots of things about them and they'll share parts of the world with you that your hometown puppy-love partner couldn't even imagine and maybe you'll try some gay stuff because, hey, you never know. Try dating online. You have to know what love isn't before you can know what it is. And, seriously, if you think y'all are really soul mates, then don’t you think fate or some shit will bring you back together later?
Chris Mihal
Moving to a new place without knowing anyone can be scary. You may be desperate to become friends with someone you don't even really know. Some people join fraternities and sororities to make friends, but why spend all that money to hang out with douchebags? Why not make money and douche-y friends all at once? If you're looking to expand your social circle, consider selling pot — but just for your first semester. Your customers won't be real friends, but at least they'll keep you company until you meet some actually cool people. If you decide to deal drugs, know this: Simply possessing less than an ounce of marijuana can put you in jail for a year with a $1,000 fine, but selling pot is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The irony is, you could get 10 years of isolation from society for selling drugs in order to be social.
Chris Mihal
Woah, you have a Bob Marley poster right next to a Fight Club poster right next to a Radiohead poster? Oh my God! You're so original — not. We understand that decorating your high school bedroom consisted of taping magazine clippings on the baby blue or pink walls your mom picked out 18 years ago, but it's time to grow up. Boys: No black lights, Salvador Dalí posters or those ubiquitous Indian tapestries. Girls: No watermelon color schemes, plastic chandeliers (you're in a dorm, for God's sake) or rugs over carpet — that gives people the creeps. IKEA and Target are mainstays on the college prep circuit, but Atlanta has great thrifting, too. Check out the affordable kitsch at Highland Row Antiques (628 N. Highland Ave.) or the discounted furniture at Last Chance (2525 N. Decatur Road).
Chris Mihal
Face it, you were a big, fat loser in high school. How did people stand you? Do yourself a solid and detag those horrible photos of yourself on Facebook. Phew. Now that that's done, it's time to reinvent yourself on a budget. No one has to know you were a teenage Twihard, so in college, you're free to project a cool new identity to the world. First off: College gear does not count as real clothes. It's made for sad alumni whose best days are behind them. Sell your old zip-off cargo pants and Hollister T-shirts to Rag-O-Rama in Little Five Points (1111 Euclid Ave.) and use the money to buy some new (used) duds. Next, go to H&M (231 18th St.) and buy disposable, trendy clothes to wear out (see step 12). Who needs food? If there's anything worth spending your parents' money on (see step 7), it's a new image.
Chris Mihal
Having had everything bought for you for the last 18 years, you may be feeling broke. You want new clothes and to go out to nice restaurants, but you can't manage a part-time job because of all your school work (or so you tell your parents). But if you think money is tight now, just wait until you graduate. Then you'll know the true agony of being broke as a joke. Recruiters on your campus will want to sign you up for credit cards. Don't do it. Banks may offer you student loans. Be warned that many 40-year-olds are still struggling to pay off theirs. Your best option, dear college student, is to spend your parents' money like it's going out of style. This is the last time you'll be able to do so, save when you move back home during the next recession. Want to study abroad? Go for it. Intern in New York City? This one's on your parents. Tell them they owe it to you for being such a perfect child.
Chris Mihal
Your body is a temple. Seriously, there are a lot of people out there who worship the bodies of college students and you should, too. Break out the exercise gear, go for a run, ride a bike, swim in the pool and do a little devotional time with your sweet, sweet self. Your body wants you to treat it right — to feed it vegetables from a farmers market, to drink fresh juice from Arden's Garden and to lay off the booze and smokes every once in a while. Remember that processed foods are the devil in your temple. In exchange, your body will reward you by feeling good and attracting the attention of people who also want to treat your body right. If you just sit on a couch all day, you will start to resemble one. A couch, that is.
Chris Mihal
You have big dreams about what your future holds when you graduate. Aspirations are important and it's wonderful to have goals. Unfortunately, you'll probably end up living in your parents' unfinished basement. (Hey, it's a great way to save money!) College diplomas are a dime a dozen now, so you've got to differentiate yourself from all the other faceless graduates applying for whatever social media job you hope to bamboozle old people into giving you. One of the smartest things to spend your parents' money on (see step 7) is getting them to support you while you fetch someone coffee for free. Padding your resume with internships is a great way to make job recruiters take notice — plus, you won't have any homework! With a bunch of Fortune 100 companies based in Atlanta, there are plenty of opportunities to choose from, including Coca-Cola, CNN and Home Depot. Creative Loafing offers a great internship program, too, but on a journalist's salary you'll still have to live in your parents' basement.
Chris Mihal
We know, we know. You want to change the world. The thing is, you're probably not going to solve humanity's problems between bong rips at 2 a.m. while jamming out to that totally sweet Widespread Panic bootleg and arguing about authority, maaaaan. Get some sleep and when you wake up in the morning, actually go out and get involved. Local nonprofits such as Alternate Roots, WonderRoot, Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta and dozens of others are changing the world in ways that you can help with, and very little of that involves bong rips or walking around barefoot. Look up these groups to see if their version of changing the world fits with yours. If you're not sure how to get involved, research volunteer programs through your university. They can get you started.
Chris Mihal
If you don't know why you're in college, don't want to be there and don't pay enough attention to learn anything, please drop out. We're totally serious. You're wasting your time and that of your teachers and fellow students — not to mention your parents' money. The world is waiting. If you don't want to be in college, you could be riding a bike to California or learning a trade that actually interests you or squatting in an abandoned house with your friends (Atlanta's got plenty) or starting a business or working a job that teaches you real-life lessons. There are plenty of ways to learn outside of college. Just don't kid yourself into thinking that any of them will be easier. You shouldn't give up until you find what you actually want to be doing. You owe it to yourself to live passionately.
Chris Mihal
Your first month of college is over and you've already hooked up with all the butterfaces (or butt-his-faces) on your hall. You may be scared, but it's time to take your social life outside the dorm. Atlanta is known for its nightlife, and you can show off your new clothes (see step 6) and spend your parents' money on drinks (see step 7) at one of the city's many 18-plus institutions. Tongue & Groove (Tuesday) and Opera (Wednesday) have 18-plus college nights for the "Jersey Shore" set. Boomers is an 18-plus strip club, MJQ has a down-and-dirty 18-plus dance night on Thursdays and the uninhibited Masquerade is 18-plus most nights. If you've got a fake ID, El Bar and Dark Horse Tavern are popular spots for hooking up. Maybe you'll even be blown by a stranger — just watch out for genital warts (see step 2).
Chris Mihal
Your university pretends to be a happy little universe that you never have to leave, but it's also a gilded cage, keeping you separated by convenience from the rest of the world. Though most people will tell you differently, you don't need to have a car to get around Atlanta. Check the MARTA lines and you’ll find that they can take you everywhere from the High Museum in the heart of Midtown to bars in Decatur. Riding on Atlanta's main thoroughfares on a bike can be a drag, but the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition has some smart maps that help you avoid the trouble spots while you pedal across town. And if you or one of your friends happens to have a car, pile everyone you know into it and actually GO somewhere, like swimming in the Chattahoochee or hiking in North Georgia.
Chris Mihal
The dining hall is there for some good reasons — to supply a quick bite between classes or offer a cheap meal when you need it — but none includes eating Lucky Charms and Chick-fil-A for every waking meal. If you're at GSU, the Sweet Auburn Curb Market is practically on campus and offers local and fresh burgers, burritos, African food and more at practically the same prices as your dining hall. For Emoryites, there's Falafel King, Athens Pizza and the vegan cafeteria at Rainbow Grocery. If you're at an AUC school, you should be checking out Soul Vegetarian in the West End before anything else. A final note to Georgia Tech students: It's gross to eat at the Varsity more than once a week. Check out Octane, Bocado and all the other hot-shit joints coming up on the Westside.
Chris Mihal
We get it: You've just paid for those new friends in your fraternity and now you have to decide, as a group of relative strangers, what music to listen to. You'll be inclined to pick the most nonoffensive, middle-of-the-road tunes to appeal to unfamiliar acquaintances, so Black-Eyed Peas, Jack Johnson or, heaven forbid, Maroon 5 may seem like no-brainers. Don't do it. Bland music is bad for you. The only thing worse than going to a Dave Matthews Band concert is going to a Dave Matthews Cover Band concert. What you’re listening to now will be the backdrop to some of your craziest memories, so experiment with your musical choices. Listen to GSU's radio station, Album 88, at 88.5 FM (WRAS), and Tech's WREK (91.1 FM), and read local blogs like PurgeATL and Greedmont Park to stay up to date on new music. But there's no excuse for listening to Maroon 5. Even Ke$ha has more integrity than Adam Levine.
1/15
Chris Mihal
You know what happens when you invite a bunch of people to a party who have little in common and less to say to each other? At best, it's uncomfortable. At worst, the evening ends with a fight and broken furniture and someone leaves in an ambulance. This is also what happens to your body when you're not careful about mixing drinks and/or drugs. Stick with clear or brown liquor all night; mixing them is gross, tacky and a fast way to find yourself hugging a toilet. MDMA is way better if you're just drinking water. Mixing coke with heroin — or any form of speedballing — is the worst idea ever, unless your goal is to die. And if someone is actually sick and/or unresponsive, for the love of God, you need to CALL 911. Oh, and take those vitamins your parents sent you. They actually help.
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