Adjusting to Louisiana Culture as an Out-of-State Student

BrandonBrandon Oliver is from Houston, TX and is a Senior majoring in International Studies and French. Brandon is an LSU Ambassador and served as one of LSU’s Parent Orientation Leaders this summer.

For every incoming student, college is a great adjustment. However, there are certain things out of state students must adjust to that in state students will never experience. While attending college out of state may seem a bit daunting, college is a once in a life time opportunity, and I strongly believe an individual should not limit their options for higher education to the boundaries of the state they live in.

I came to LSU from out of state, and I would not trade my experience here for the world! When I began my college search during high school, I looked at universities all across the United States. I lived in Texas during high school; even though Texas is the largest state in the contiguous U.S, and there were plenty of excellent colleges for me to choose from, I did not find the college in state that was the best fit for me. To be honest, I dreamed of attending LSU since I was a little kid, but after I went to a Kick-Off LSU in the Spring of my Junior year, I could not imagine myself going to any other school.

My first semester at LSU was incredible! No doubt, there were some things I definitely had to get adjusted to. Coming from five hours away I couldn’t go home to wash my clothes on the weekends, I had to spend my birthday without my closest friends from high school, and I to adjust from seeing my family everyday to hardly once a month. I was the only person I knew coming into LSU, but I came in with an open mind, and I met the most amazing people.

The fall semester is so much fun at LSU. The first week students arrive on campus, there are so so many activities going on. After this, football season starts! I believe everyone should experience at least one football game at LSU during their life because it’s amazing. Homecoming and Fall Fest were my favorite events I attended Freshman year. In addition to all these great activities, I LOVED the classes I took freshman year. I remember taking Sociocultural Anthropology, and I thought it was incredibly fascinating!

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Everyone is different, but I did not feel homesick until after winter break. I truly had blast my first semester, but after I went home for the break and hung out with my friends and family, it was hard for me to leave them all again. When I got back to campus in the spring, I kept myself busy with school and decided to join a few organizations where I ended up meeting my best friends to this day.

Culture-wise, I have met out of state students who have experienced a bit of a culture shock when they first came to Louisiana. I grew up in and out of Louisiana, so the culture was nothing new to me, but I met a girl from Houston who didn’t know Cajun was culture and ethnic group, she just thought it was a type of seasoning. Most people who come from the North are surprised by the friendliness of the natives here. I personally love the French culture here. French is one of my majors, and I have had multiple opportunities to practice my French with native speakers and attend French festivals, which I would not be able to do if I attended college in any other state.

The best advice I could give to an out of state student would be to have an open mind, and to GET INVOLVED. I literally knew no one on campus the first day I arrived, but by Sophomore year LSU was my home. People come to LSU from all over the world and there are plenty of resources at LSU to ensure the success of all their students.

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GEAUX Greek

IMG_3586Brielle Moreau is from Prairieville, LA and is a Junior majoring in Biological Sciences. Brielle is an active member in the Greek Community, an LSU Ambassador, and served as one of LSU’s Parent Orientation Leaders this summer.

Going off to college means so many new experiences and one of those is Greek Life. Greek Life has honestly made me feel at home for so many different and unique reasons. Being part of the Greek community is an opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself. The moment I joined my sorority, I knew that it was going to be the start of a great time here at LSU.

Before coming to college, I was worried about meeting new people and finding ways to get involved on campus, but Greek Life quickly made that very accessible to me. Greek Life is constantly giving back to the community in ways that I could have never expected. Events like Habitat for Humanity where all of Greek life comes together and builds houses for those who need them allowed me to further my bond with my sisters and other Greeks as well. I have thus far been able to make meaningful connections with individuals that will last a lifetime.

When I joined a sorority, I gained 300 new sisters to support me and guide me through my college career. These new sisters are from all walks of life and from all over the world. Not only did becoming Greek allow me to find my home, but it allowed me to make a home for others.  Even though every member of my sorority, and Greek Life in general, is from different places, we all come together to make a positive impact in our community and on campus.  Every sorority and fraternity has their own specific philanthropy that is special to them and throughout the year they host events and fundraisers to raise money to support those philanthropies.

Not only are members involved with helping the community, many members are also involved with student government and a vast variety of other organizations on campus. LSU offers over 450 different organizations on campus and Greek Life is just one of them. Apart from the involvement of the chapter as a whole, I also live in the sorority house so it has truly and literally become my home here at LSU.

Four Years Later…

Nicole PicNicole Dominique is a soon-to-be LSU graduate with a Dual-Degree in Microbiology and English Literature.  Nicole is from Thibodaux, Louisiana and has served LSU as an Ambassador, Parent Orientation Leader, BIOS Mentor, and Cox Communications Student Athlete Tutor. Recently, she was awarded as a member of the LSU Tiger Twelve Class of 2017 for her service to the campus and larger Baton Rouge community. After graduation, Nicole will attend LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a combined M.D./M.P.H degree. 

Two papers, two exams, and a couple steps across a stage: it seems strange that this is all that is left of my LSU career. Being so close to graduation, this semester has forced me to reflect on my time at LSU.

It’s unbelievable to me how much LSU has given me. I’d like to think that LSU, the experiences it has provided me, and the people on campus found me in the times that I needed them the most.  I will leave with significant memories including volunteering at the Crisis Intervention Center, studying abroad in the U.K., assisting families and students through LSU Ambassadors, and meeting many genuine people. From my random roommate freshman year (still a close friend) to encouraging professors, LSU seems to attract individuals eager to connect with others.

LSU has taught me about myself and has given me a deeper love for Louisiana, motivating me to give back to the state that has raised and formed me.

College is challenging, but in a way that enables you to find your passions (still a bittersweet and scary time). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the help that enabled me to arrive at this point. For future students, I would recommend seeking out our post-orientation programs, like STRIPES (for entering freshmen) and BIOS (for entering science majors). I attended BIOS, and it gave me an insight into what being a Science major was like before beginning in the Fall. Additionally, I benefited from Supplemental Instruction, study sessions led by fellow students who have already taken the class, especially for notorious classes like organic chemistry.
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LSU gave me experiences that I never imagined being able to do, and I was able to pursue an education that I really enjoyed. I know that my time here has been meaningful and will remain with me. LSU has a way of making itself your home and a place that you are sad to leave with only 2 weeks before graduation. I can’t in any way tell everyone how to chart their path, but just know that there are many resources, experiences, and kind people waiting for you!

What My First Year at LSU Taught Me

Tori2Tori Landry is from Albany, LA and is a freshman majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in public relations. Tori is an LSU Ambassador and will serve as one of LSU’s Orientation Leaders during FOAP 2017 this summer.

Going to school in a small town, the idea of change is a frightening one. As frightening as the thought may have seemed, it was always a dream of mine to attend LSU.

When I first attended my orientation session, I was beyond anxious. I felt that I had made a huge mistake. Who was I to think I could actually thrive in such a large campus? Who was I to think I could make a difference or be remembered here at LSU? I left orientation feeling hopeless and became nauseated at the idea of leaving the small town I had become so accustomed to. My mom offered advice saying getting involved on campus is the best thing to do. It wasn’t until I became a member of LSU Ambassadors that I realized how true this actually was.

I attended the info meeting for LSU Ambassadors in the fall semester. Because I had to attend the meeting by myself, I was petrified. To this day, it is still one of the best decisions I’ve made. I felt so embarrassed being there alone because I had always depended on my friends and family in everything I did. If I hadn’t attended that info meeting I wouldn’t be the person I am today. College taught me it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to be alone. Everyone is just trying to find themselves. A lot of that goes hand in hand with doing things on your own.

My first year has taught me momentary fear can lead to everlasting success. If you Tori1are fearful because you graduated with a class of 118 students and you feel you’ll be just another number at this university, get involved! Push your limits – go out of your way to make friends and make the experience memorable. LSU offers more than enough opportunities to get involved as we have over 350 organizations offered on our campus.

My first year taught me it’s okay to try new things and discover what your dreams really are. To think that I will be orienting new tigers this upcoming summer is mind-blowing in relation to where I just was last summer.

What a difference a year can make, and it’s all up to you to make it a remarkable one!

Making Orientation Better for Your Student

BlaiseBlaise LaCour is a Mass Communication Junior from Natchitoches, Louisiana currently serving as the Communications Chair for LSU Ambassadors. She attended the Southern Regional Oriental Workshop in 2016 and 2017 and served as a Parent Orientation Leader in 2015.

LSU is constantly working to have the best orientation program possible for incoming students, parents and their families. Part of what we do as a university to keep our orientation leaders as informed as possible is send them to an annual conference called the Southern Regional Orientation Workshop (SROW). The organization orientation leaders are chosen from, the LSU Ambassadors, selects a group of its members to send to universities across the south where they attend presentations and learn how other universities run their orientation programs.

This year, a group of about 40 Ambassadors, including myself, loaded up a bus and traveled to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia for the conference.  Since the SROW committee had been chosen in November, this was a highly anticipated trip. In the months leading up to SROW, we prepared detailed presentations to bring to the Presentation Groupconference. Most presentation groups researched universities across the country in order to compile a well-rounded set of information for their presentations. Presentation topics this year covered areas like campus safety and financial literacy. At the conference itself, other universities discussed diversity, first generation students and the importance of social media at orientation. Over the course of SROW there is a large exchange of information between universities as a result of these educational presentations.

In addition to presentations, the Ambassadors participate in the song, skit, step and dance competition that takes place at SROW. Entering under the dance category, we performed a 3 minute and 30 second routine set to music combined with voice-overs that spoke about resources LSU offers its students. (https://youtu.be/jVoFKIyDoa4 ) This was one of several ways we displayed how dynamic LSU is as a university.

After four days in Georgia, we returned back to Baton Rouge eager to share what we learned at SROW. The conference seemed to pass in the blink of an eye in comparison to the months that were spent preparing for those four days. Because of this experience, the SROW committee is now a tight knit group of students who are well prepared to serve the university that we love. Committee Picture

GEAUX Get Your Tiger Involved!

lindsey-blog-photoLindsey Powell served as the Orientation Leader for the University Center for Advising and Counseling this past summer. She is a sophomore from New Orleans, LA and is majoring in Biology for Pre-Pharmacy. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Student Government, Pre-Pharmacy Club, and Greek Life. Her favorite spot on campus is her sorority house.

This past summer I served as an Orientation Leader here at LSU. One phrase I told to all of my students coming through was “Get Involved!” My students heard it from me, other leaders, upperclassmen friends, and all of the speakers they listened to in those two days. There are so many reasons to get involved in college; Mainly, because it helps students meet so many new people and it brings them countless opportunities.

I think the reason I harp on getting involved so much is because the organizations I’ve joined since I’ve been at LSU have impacted me to a point that I don’t know where I’d be without them or the people I’ve met while being involved in them. Take it from me, since my freshman year I have joined three major student organizations. I became an LSU Ambassador, I hold a position in student government, and I am part of a Greek organization. The coolest part about all three of these organizations is that it brought me to people and gave me friendships I probably would not have had otherwise. I’ve gained best friends, study groups, and even roommates from these organizations. Of course, your student doesn’t have to join every organization that interests them. If they attend a meeting for an organization they think they would like, even if they don’t join it in the end, they may make meaningful connections or gain useful information they never would have without attending.

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Here at LSU we have over 400 student organizations. There is something here for everyone, no matter race, religion, personal interests, or talents. We have clubs for just about every major, if not all of them.  Joining that could help your student for the sole purpose of always having a study group. The people they will meet in those major-based clubs will be taking the same classes as them throughout their time at LSU. Or, like me, being a part of the Pre-Pharmacy club allows me to hear from representatives from different universities across the country about their Pharmacy programs and what they have to offer. My membership in this club is opening doors for me by giving me the opportunity to talk to representatives and figure out if one of those schools is where I would like to eventually study.

I wish every freshman tiger could read this, and even the upperclassman that haven’t found their place on campus yet. Meeting people different from yourself and surrounding yourself with people who are both similar and different from you helps you grow as a person. It helps you figure out who you are and find yourself, as well as learn about those who are different from you.

So, while you read this and hear my story, think about your tiger moving away from home and starting a whole new chapter in their life. Encourage them to get involved and to not only make those life-long friendships, but to also open those doors to new opportunities they didn’t get in high school.

An Open Letter to Nervous Parents

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Paige Picou will be serving as the University Center for Advising and Counseling POL. She is a Junior Psychology major from Houma, Louisiana. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Psi Chi, Freshman Leadership Council, and STRIPES. Her favorite spot on campus is the Bookstore.

Entering college is a time filled with nervousness, excitement, and hopes for the future. While students are packing their things, scheduling their classes, and planning for the experience they’ll have at LSU, there are obviously a lot of emotions involved in the process. However, while most of the attention is rightfully placed on the students themselves, people often forget that this is a very emotional time for the parents as well.

I know as my parents were moving me into my residence hall before the start of my freshman year, they were also filled with excitement for me, nervousness about how well I would adjust, and worries for our future. Not only did they want me to be successful and happy, but this was also the first time in my life that we hadn’t all lived under the same roof, and I know they were going to miss me as much or more than I missed them.PAige blog 1

I can only imagine the stress that goes along with sending your child away to college, but as a student who has faced this experience with my own family, I can assure you that your child can succeed here. LSU has worked tirelessly to try to create programs that can help students academically. The Center for Academic Success provides free walk-in tutoring to students for any subject that they are struggling in. Additionally, supplemental instructors are provided for classes that are typically difficult for students. These supplemental instructors are students who have already taken this particular class and made an A in it and then retake that class to help the new students. They will hold review sessions twice a week with worksheets and a more relaxed environment where students can discuss class material with other students. In addition to the academic resources that this university offers, LSU also has over 400 organizations for students to get involved in, and all of these organizations can be found at www.lsu.edu/tigerlink.

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Of course, there will still be times when your student will be frustrated and unsure of what to do next in a particular situation, and there will also be times when your tiger can’t wait to tell you all about the good grade on a test or the great day he or she had. While it can be upsetting to hear that your family members are having a rough day and not be able to immediately fix the situation, I think being a support system for your student is the best thing you can do for him or her. I know that when I want to vent, simply having my parents to listen to and understand what I’m feeling is a great comfort to me because it validates my feelings and makes me feel like I am not alone. They can’t fix all of my problems for me, but they are always there to listen and help me figure out how to solve my problems on my own.

I can assure you that all of the wisdom, advice, and values that you have instilled in your child have prepared him or her to make his or her own decisions here. Your child will absolutely still make mistakes, but with your guidance, your tiger can learn from these mistakes to be even better individuals in the future.