The first few weeks of college can be stressful for everyone, but especially for freshmen who are stepping out of their comfort zones for the first time. Entering college constitutes a considerable lifestyle change — adjusting to greater freedom, taking difficult classes and learning to get along with your roommate.

It can be hard to deal with stepping out of your comfort zone, and it’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine of going to class, getting food and going back to your dorm to watch Netflix. But now that you’re here, you should embrace change and explore the new city you call home. Become a citizen of Binghamton.

Exploring a new city can be overwhelming, but learning the Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) schedule is a great place to start. The OCCT blue buses can take you almost anywhere in Downtown Binghamton, giving you access to the whole city. Whether you choose to explore Washington Street or the West Side, there’s a lot to see besides the insides of the bars on State Street. Additionally, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have just arrived in the Binghamton University. This is the first time ever that BU students can explore the city with the tap of a finger.

Downtown Binghamton offers a wealth of activities, traditions and special events to help introduce you to the city. Check out First Friday, an art walk that takes place on the first Friday of each month, go for a swim in Recreation Park, test out your painting skills at Mural Fest or sample the city of Binghamton’s restaurant scene during Restaurant Week.

You can also register to vote in local elections and allow your voice to be heard in the community. Now that you’re away from home and you may have more freedom to exercise your own beliefs, this is the perfect opportunity to incite change in your new community. Participating in your new community will also expose you to people and ideas you may have never encountered before college. Take advantage of this opportunity to understand how the people in this community think and live. College is not only about majoring in one subject area — take the time to learn about the world and people around you.

The city of Binghamton mayoral race is well underway, so learn about the candidates by attending rallies and community meetings. You’re considered a part of this community now, so you should exercise your right to have your voice heard.

Becoming a citizen of Binghamton means becoming your own person. Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy, but once you’ve overcome the hard part, it’s easy to continue. Although it’s never too late, starting early in your college career will ensure that you have the most fulfilling four years possible. You’re now not only a part of BU, but of the surrounding area. Learn to take advantage of all that these communities have to offer.