5 Things Sun Tzu Can Teach You About Freshman Year

6 Sep

1. Deception and Supplies

“All warfare is based on deception.” – Sun Tzu, Ancient Chinese General, 502 BC

Hey, quick – do you want to know how much a gallon of milk costs? About $5 dollars. And I’m sorry I told you that, because it’s something you shouldn’t have had to learn yet. The truth is this: Buying milk is for suckers. [1]

I promised myself I’d find a way to use an image from the Google search “milk thief” one day.

There is no reason why you should ever have to pay for milk as long as you have a meal plan. That stuff is easy to take. Grab a bag, a large bottle, a jug – whatever thieving vestibule your heart desires. Then. Go. To. Work. The dining hall charges you, like, 12 bucks a meal.  You’re entitled to a lot of that food. So load up on fruit to snack on, milk to drink, and other simple staples. It’ll give you the money to buy more of what you actually want later (read: drugs, alcohol, SWAT dress shoes, ETC.)

2) The importance of navigation

“The line between order and disorder lies in logistics.” – Sun Tzu, Ancient Chinese General, 506 BC

This is something that will be especially gratifying to learn, as there will come times when an entire group of drunken people will need it, and you will be able to provide it to them.

It is not hard to learn the streets of Evanston. Do not be like me, and continue to mix up Sheridan and Sherman Avenue until the beginning of your sophomore year. Evanston is not a labyrinth-like place. Take like ten minutes, look at a map, and really try to get the surrounding area down. It’s a small thing, but the amount of stress and smartphone diddling it will save you (and a large group of your peers) down the road [2] is worth it.

3) Learn how to manage your text messages and plan a little ahead

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu, Ancient Chinese General, 488 BC

This is a small one, but there seems to be a pretty wide variance in the amount of responsibility people feel towards answering their text messages. Generally, it pays to be attentive to your phone – obviously not overly attentive, if you’re with anybody you should keep the thing in your damn pocket – but attentive enough on your own so you’re not missing out on things. The first year of college is a time where very few people I knew had their shit together scheduling-wise. This meant that most cool things that we did happened within a few hours of their original, ideological inception. People who don’t pay attention to their phones or bother to communicate with the other people they know will probably miss out on some cool “shared”[3] experiences. Plus, a lot of roommate quibbles can be avoided if you guys keep in pretty good contact. Solid phone-work will mean you’ll never have to walk in on something crazy.

4) Don’t make yourself take hard classes

“What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.” – Sun Tzu, Ancient Chinese General, 498 BC

 When it comes to what you’re majoring in, you should take whatever courses are richest in content, regardless of the grades it will give you. However, when it comes to distribution credits, it’s nice to save yourself some stress and take the easy route. Researching CTECs is the first step, but the most important thing to do is communicate with other freshman. You can bet at least some of them are doing the same research as you, and pooling your resources can allow you to figure out the best courses to take care of your peskiest requirements. If you’re dreading Art History, and know you aren’t going to like it, try to make it as painless for yourself as possible. I once got a math credit for playing hackenbush.

5) Learn not to make fun of yourself for being a freshman

“Baby you’re a fiiiiiiiiirework.”  – Sun Tzu, Katy Perry sound producer/Ancient Chinese General, 2010 AD [4]

“There are only 5 primary colors, but there are more hues than can ever be seen – oh-oh-oh-ohhhhhhhh.”

Everyone around you generally knows you’re a freshman; making jokes about being a freshman to preempt comments about you being a freshman is a stupid, freshman thing to do. Freshman. Nobody really cares that you’re a freshman as long as you don’t give them a reason to think that it’s a bad thing. Relax. Enjoy. Freshman year is a lot of fun once the crying and vomiting are over.


[1] For the love of God, no pun intended

[2] Pun egregiously — almost offensively — intended

[3] drunk

[4] For those interested, the most relevant actual Sun Tzu quote is probably: “You have to believe in yourself.” [5]

[5] Seriously, Sun Tzu is the guy credited with that quote. He basically wrote Power Rangers.

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