Ask Riley: Surviving freshman year: always bring your key

Riley Brands

Editor’s note: This is an advice column written by in-house know-it-all Riley Brands. All answers are based on personal experience. Brands is not a licensed professional. Questions for Brands can be sent to [email protected].

We’ve all been there: As we come to UT and leave the comfort of our hometowns behind, there are inevitably some adjustments that have to be made to live on our own. The Daily Texan has compiled some stories of freshman-year follies along with resident know-it-all Riley Brands’ tips for surviving your first year on the 40 Acres.


Dorm life has its good and bad moments. I lived in Moore-Hill Dormitory my freshman year. One day, I had gone to take a shower. While I was in the shower my roommate left and out of habit locked the door behind him. Since I thought he would be there when I got out of the shower, I didn’t think to take a key with me. I was locked out and clothed by only a towel. I went to the front desk to try to get another key, but with my luck I had maxed out the amount of times I could get a key without out a charge to my account. So there I was, in nothing but a towel arguing with an RA over a key, as people were walking by, judging away. After 30 minutes I made my case to the RA and he let me in free of charge.

Never assume anything from your roommate. Even if you’re just running to 7-Eleven for a late-night snack, take a key with you, just in case. Unless you hit it off right away, if ever, they won’t be notifying you of their every move, so always leave your room with everything you need to get back in.


One night I fell asleep when I’d just started studying for a major test I had the next day. I forgot to set my alarm, so I woke up five minutes before the test and ran downstairs and to my test in my pajamas. I was only two minutes late (totally record time), but I failed the test and my shirt was also on backwards.

College will teach you several lessons in time management. While it’s tempting to burn the midnight oil and study all through the night, you run the risk of oversleeping and missing that big test the next morning. Unless you pull an all-nighter with someone who can pinch you if you nod off, it’s often better to hit the hay as early as possible and set your alarm for sometime in the middle of the night, if you must.

However, if worst comes to worst and you wake up just before or after a test is set to begin, don’t panic. Just hightail it on down to class and make the most of the time you have left.


I farted once in my government class. Luckily, the sound was absorbed by the cushion on the chair, but the girls next to me and behind me heard, and they were whispering about me for the rest of class. Oops.

What can I say? It happens. While our status-conscious selves try to hold it in, sometimes we just have to let one rip. It’s an uncomfortable experience as all eyes land on you, but don’t let it bother you too much. Instead, let it serve as a reminder that freshmen are just a few months removed from high school and still have some growing up to do. Trust me, you’ll have bigger problems to worry about.


Jester stir-fry, while delicious, can make you gassy if you have a queasy stomach, so watch out.

Be careful about what you eat. Your parents aren’t cooking for you anymore, so the temptation will be great to pile on the carbs and fatty foods, which can wreak havoc on your digestive system, so try to take it easy and listen to your body above all else.


Our community bath had a connected changing place, and one time, some girl straight up opened the curtains when I was naked.

Always leave something sticking out under the curtain, and if you’re really afraid of being walked in on, don’t dawdle and be conspicuous so people can tell you’re changing. And if you do get exposed in the nude, well … don’t worry, you’ll probably see plenty more shocking things in college.