By Kevin Vestal, For The Miami Student

Ask any Miami student where they get their groceries and you will be met with a resounding advertisement for Kroger.  With this in mind, I grabbed a friend and spent my second afternoon on campus blindly following Google Maps in order to find this store and fill my fridge.

Had I swallowed my pride and asked a returning student for directions rather than my trusty smartphone, I might have spared myself the agony of walking a mile and a half back to my dorm in constant fear that my flimsy plastic bags would snap, spilling my yogurt and peanut butter into the street.  I wouldn’t have contemplated investing in recyclable bags that would be more equipped for long distance travel, to the mutual benefit of the environment and my shoulder blades. Nor would I have pondered buying my own personal shopping cart and locking it to the bike rack between grocery runs.

I have since learned of course that Miami has a bus service that goes directly to Kroger, and that my afternoon of agony was completely in vain. Seasoned students feel free to scoff at my foolishness, but I’m sure most first-years were just as clueless during our first weekend. Let’s be honest — at one point we all had no idea what we were doing.

The transition to college life is universally overwhelming, and not just due to an increase in workload. Living outside the nest comes with a lot less hand-holding than firstyears like myself are accustomed to. This challenge, however, serves to validate our adult status, and is part of the exciting experience that is college life. For the first time in our lives, we are the ones responsible for doing our laundry and keeping our own refrigerator stocked, which can sometimes leave us a little dazed when our underwear drawer gets empty or our milk supply gets low.

This new reality can be a tad daunting, and discovering the ins and outs of college life sometimes requires a helping hand, but from where? Good old mom and dad no longer have all the answers and have been replaced by your first college roommate who, chances are, is just as ignorant as you are. Unless you are lucky enough to have an older friend or sibling on campus to shepherd you in, being a freshman in college requires a little branching out to learn the ropes.

Sure, nobody wants to look foolish by asking a stranger for help, but this is a necessary part of the freshman experience. I’ve learned there is no shame in talking to your RA. They want to give you answers –– that’s why they decided to be your neighbor instead of living in a comfortable apartment off campus.

While I admit my journey to Kroger was a little shortsighted, I have no regrets from my rookie mistake. Mistakes like these are just one more opportunity to learn and grow, which is why we are all here at Miami in the first place. Before I make my first run to Walmart, you can bet I’ll have done my research.

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