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While I sat snug as a bug in a rug, thousands upon thousands of you rushed to your orientation leaders for golden tickets—or rather, orange wristbands. Parents had left. The crash course in socializing had begun.

You met your OL group for the first time while sitting in a circle on a patch of manicured grass. At first everyone placed their jean jackets under their pants but after a few minutes they all said, “Screw it. I’m in college now. So what if I have a wet stain on my tush?!”

Welcome! Happy NSOP! I love NSOP season, it’s my favorite time of the year.

My biggest piece of advice for you is treat this week as a brutal battle—whoa, say that five times fast. (Actually, I just did it—and I can only imagine so did you—and it is not that difficult, which disappoints me profusely.) Sure, everyone might be shooting smiles at you right and left, but that’s just ammo that you’re not familiar with. They are all here to win.

Win what? Willy Wonka’s grand prize: If you get NSOP right, a glorious Carman-party-filled social life awaits you. If you don’t: sadness, emptiness, regret, wondering whether you even came to the right school.

Many people will tell you that you have a very low likelihood of finding lifetime friends during NSOP and not to worry because, well, you will make friends in your own time. Well, guess what, people are just shoving statistics down our throats. Screw The MEDIA and FAKE NEWS.

I left NSOP last year with two best friends. I came up on top. Brutalbattlebrutalbattlebrutalbattlebrutalbattlebrutlebattle—maybe the reason that tongue twister fails to defeat me is because winning NSOP has made me an indomitable champion.

So this is how you do it: Have your birthday during NSOP.

Everyone told me that the worst thing that could ever happen to you is having your birthday during NSOP. But I don’t have a time machine, all I have is my intellect. So I milked the birthday line all day and received free Korean snacks and a shout-out at an EC party, and my mom sent balloons. (Which, FYI, do not really work as a care package because they did not fit in my mailbox, and I had to go through this whole thing with the delivery guy and that kind of took away some of the magic of the whole thing. It’s not like I’m bitter. It’s more just like, “Oh, OK, we’re all learning.”)

Now, you might say: But my birthday isn’t during NSOP! This is unrealistically specific advice! If you were not physically born during the week of NSOP, that is OK. I officially give you full permission to lie. I actually recommend lying about everything. This is a fake week, and everyone knows that.

If you don’t want to do the birthday thing, then come up with something else. Because you’re going to have to introduce yourself a lot this week, and no one wants to hear about how you ran the Model UN club in your high school, Shawn.

Also, please, please, please don’t introduce yourself as someone who loves to watch Netflix. That does not mean anything or say anything about you. You are essentially just saying that you enjoy using a corporate streaming service that is eating up all of the independent movie theaters and video stores and inspiring memes about sexual activity among young people.

In reality, you should be hiding the fact that you love Netflix so much. Pretend you’ve never even heard about it, and wait for one of your new friends to introduce you to the website/app, and tell them you’ve never created an account. This implants the seed in their head. Wait five seconds. They turn to you and say, “I can give you my account information, and you can use it whenever you want.” Astonished, you respond, “What? That’s too kind. You don’t have to do that.” “No please, it’s my birthday present to you.” Whoa, it worked. You take the username and password and run. You’re welcome.

(Another appropriate response would have been “Although that is very kind of you, I actually subscribe to Kant’s universal formula which argues that we can’t live our lives like an exception to the rule and essentially states that if everyone were to use other people’s Netflix passwords then no one would be paying for a Netflix account so Netflix would not be able to exist. Thus, no one would be able to enjoy the benefits of the service.”)

But you know what? What do I know about anything? If you’re gonna say that you love Netflix you should say it. There’s no such thing as winning NSOP, and it’s totally okay to not find friends right now or feel a little out of place. Also, maybe don’t lie. And you should definitely not listen to sophomores soaked in irony because a little more earnestness could save this scary, scary world we live in.

Have fun leafing through our eleventh issue, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, As We See It!

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